Tag Archives: Bordeaux

Is This a Wine to Age?

The Pairing Red Wine, 2012 The Paring 2012 Red

The best way to learn tasting is to taste a wine that shows signs that it is made to age, because it can balance our impressions of so many wines made for immediate consumption.  The Paring Red Wine, 2012 is our example.  As you taste it, note the fruit:  no fruit, no future is the adage to keep in mind.  Does this have lots of fruit?   Then ask, “Are the acids strong, which if they are, signals aging potential?” And of the tannin (which is a preservative) ask again, “Is there a good amount of it that will preserve the wine for years to come?”  I would answer there is a good amount of fruit, but not a great amount; the acid is strong enough and the tannin is there in plenty.  It has a potential to age more and needs to, but how long?  Safely, another 5-10 years.  I’d check it at five.

Blackberry predominates.  Dark cherry, cedar and reminders of licorice make for some complexity.  Full fruit, acid and tannin take control of the palate alright.  It is a wine that needs age and if you can’t keep it in good storage for a few more years, try decanting or use an aerator

This is an example of a wine at four years that gives evidence of being made for the future, not the present.  If you consume it now, do so with a rich meal to mellow its tannic grip.  This wine will teach you what a wine that is made to age tastes like and it will familiarize you with the attack of a wine in its youth — out of balance, but making its journey to a balanced wine.  This one reminds me of a mid range Bordeaux of 20 years ago.  Besides, it is a Bordeaux blend with Cab Sauv 53%, Merlot 24%, Cab Franc 16% and Petit Verdot 7%. 

As expected with a wine designed to age, the tannins on the finish show a little bitterness still and with age, they should mellow and integrate, becoming finer and softer as age lengthens their molecular chain

Also as expected, after oxygen had been introduced by aeration, the wine rounded and became a rich, pleasant and smooth experience, which increased its score to 91. 

Rating:  Now 87; in a few years or after aeration, up to 91. 

Emotional rating:  Wait a few years and as it softens, it will please more. 

Availability:  Widely available.

Domaines Baron de Rothschild/Lafite

Thibaut Cuisset

Thibaut Cuisset

World Wide Estates: Domaines Baron de Rothschild/Lafite.  

The Rothschild’s have made their mark in the wine world and any wine lover visiting the wines of Bordeaux, whether on location or not, should include at least one of their wines.  Consistency has been a trademark.  Quality has been another.  At times they have hit the ball out of the park and more frequently, they have produced throughout their range of wines products that demand attention and score well.

My first introduction to Bordeaux wines was the humble Mouton Cadet.  However, it had

Cellars at Domaine Baron de Rothschild

Cellars at Domaine Baron de Rothschild

enough of the real thing to encourage my exploration and love of Bordeaux wines.  But Bordeaux is changing fast.  The methods or the New World and the influences of technology are being adopted and felt as I have already remarked in other articles.  What you thought of Bordeaux may not be true anymore, but one thing will be true: Bordeaux is still a top ranking name in the world of wine.

Now to a reasonably priced but still impressive current offering: Domaines Baron de Rothschild/Lafite Reserve Speciale, Bordeaux.  It is in my glass and I will make some comments that you can add to, so get yourself a glass and evaluate with me.  The one I tasted had been on argon for a while and seemed none the worse for the passage of time.  If the delivery system is foolproof, argon can be best way to keep a wine in perfect condition.

First impression as I tilted my glass was dark, dark, almost black at the core.  Aromas!  Yes, for a Bordeaux of this price all I could have expected — blackberry and some black currant of course, blueberry, licorice, caramel, and toast all presented with an edge of minerality.  So far, not disappointing and, in fact, an interesting, complex, soft nose with promise.

It’s medium to full bodied with strong, young tannins a medium length and a pleasant finish.  If compared with a Napa Cab, I found it less fruity and, as might be expected, more of the Old World minerality showing.  Some ability to age a little can be expected.  The left bank of Bordeaux is not Cabernet Sauvignon but the famous blend of grapes dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon that makes for a distinctive wine copied the world over.

Taste!  Your comments count.  We all experience wine through the emotional bank of our memories and so, yes, you are right.  Enjoy.

Rating:  88

A ‘Modernized’ Grand Cru Wine from St. Emilion

St Emilion vineyardChateau Haut-Segottes St Emilion Grand Cru 2010

Like all of Bordeaux, St. Emilion is undergoing some major changes in the way their wines are being made — in both the vineyard and the winery.  In the past, it has been known for rich red wine and that remains true.  While that remains true, but as more attention is being paid to the vineyard practices, the wines are becoming richer, showing more fruit and alcohol as the grapes ripen more.  Climate change, whether cyclical or the result of a warmer climate due to polluted air as some feel, is making a difference.

This wine is promoted as Grand Cru and therein lies a caution for the uneducated buyer.  Unless it says Grand Cru Classe, the term does not mean what one would commonly think.  The top ranking is Premier Grand Cru Classe and the second, Grand Cru Classe.  All the rest are lumped under the term Grand Cru.  There are hundreds of the latter, so don’t expect when you see ‘Grand Cru’ that you are buying the top class wine.  That said, some of the Grand Crus can be excellent wines and very impressive.

The main grapes are Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  This one shows a little age and will illustrate some aspects of both St. Emilion and the modernization of winemaking.  It is deep, ruby and almost completely opaque, raising our expectations of a rich concentrated wine.

Fruit, earth and oak flavors emerge, creating a complex wine of medium aromatic intensity.  Reminders of dark chocolate and licorice fold over a vanilla, blackberry, and blackcurrant base.  The wine has a smooth texture, but there is, as we should expect of French wines in general, a minerality that suggests its Old World origin.

Chateau Haut Rian 2015 – A Mouthwatering Bordeaux Blanc

Chateau Haut Rian Bordeaux Blanc 2015

Chateau Haut Rian Bordeaux Blanc 2015

Chateau Haut Rian Bordeaux Blanc 2015

We visit Bordeaux again, this time with a Bordeaux Blanc.  At 60% Semillon  and 40% Sauvignon Blanc, this wine is traditional but not without its distinctly informative characteristics.  Semillon can have unique characteristics as in Australia’s Hunter Valley, but it is usually passed up by most wine lovers due to its having little aroma when young (the exception being its use in Bordeaux’s great sweet wines) — a nondescript grape that needs something.

In this example, what it needs is supplied (for those who want to benefit from Semillon’s slight creaminess and fuller mouthfeel) by the addition of the lively Sauvignon Blanc, as is typical in the white wines of the Graves.  Notice how this added grape variety, although at only 40%, dominates the wine. A little Sauvignon Blanc goes a long way!  Just 5% can dominate the flavors of some white grapes.  This wine comes alive with its forward acidity and aromas.  New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc flavors are all over it: grapefruit, lemon, gooseberry and green melon along with the grape’s natural herbacoussness.  It lacks the more tropical fruit flavors, probably because it was picked before they formed and/or the effects of a cooler climate, both of which may be expected in Bordeaux.

The lemon/lime, which is also characteristic of Semillon, emphasizes the lemony notes of the Sauvignon Blanc.  Semillon’s acidity also adds to the zest of this dry lively aperitif wine.  This wine comes from old vine Semillon grapes and the limestone soils may be the source of its minerality.  Ah!  That’s the difference to that NZ Sauvignon Blanc you may be tasting alongside of this wine.  In fact, do try them side-by-side because when we get to Sancerre, you will notice not a similarity to NZ Sauvignon Blanc, but a contrast.

This wine is clean and well made.  Its purpose is written in its smell, taste and finish —  a light and very refreshing aperitif, a mouth-watering delight.

Rating: 87

Wine with the Perfect Progeny of Fruit and Oak

Tamarack Cellars

Tamarack Cellars

Tamarack Cellars Petite Verdot 2013

Tamarack Cellars in Walla Walla, Washington has crafted a 100% Petite Verdot varietal worthy of attention.  Traditionally this  grape has been used to deepen color and supply greater fruitiness in Bordeaux wines.  It often fails in the star role but shines as a supporting actor.  Experimentation as a varietal has increased as the popularity of fruit-driven wines have become more the rage.  All that fruitiness can be very appealing to the novice and indeed it has its place.

Red wines of great nobility, however, have long been married with oak and the flavors of both the fruit and the oak form a character that enhances the wine in all aspects, in my humble opinion.  Too much fruit or oak is the bane of many a would-be great wine.  And how do you create the perfect balance?  It is not easy ,as seen by the majority of reds that may have achieved balance between acid, tannin, alcohol, and fruit but created an imbalance with the oak.  Balance is achieved not only with the longevity of the wine in mind, but with the marriage of these oak and fruit flavors that give birth to their harmonious complexity.

Tamarack has done this well.  The Petite Verdot’s flavors have been filled out and deepened by the right amount of oak that does not go unnoticed to the discerning taster.  Likewise, the oak flavors have been enriched and transformed by the vibrant fruit.  This is one of the most attractive Petite Verdot wines that I have tasted and it will offer a great experience for the educated wine lover.

Rating: 91

Emotional rating:  Very high for the taster that wants the adventure of complex harmony that only a perfect balance of oak and deep fruit can offer.

Availability:  Try the internet wine sources for availability in your region.