This past Saturday, Kara and I headed over to Cin-Cin Wine Bar for another tasting event…
Bordeaux France is one of the premier wine appellations in the world. Although there are 57 regions within Bordeaux, there are really only four that you would need to become familiar with in order to sound like a wine geek:
Graves (including Pessac-Leognan, and Sauternes): Found on the “Left Bank” of the Garonne River, Graves is known for reds, dry whites, and some of the best dessert wine in the world (Sauternes).
Medoc: This is a wide-spread region found along the “Left Bank” of the Gironde River. There are seven major sub-appellations of the Medoc (Haut Medoc, St-Estephe, Paullac, St-Julien, Margaux, Moulis, and Listrac), all producing reds. In 1855, sixty-one of the chateaux were classified under the Grand Cru Classe (5 of which were of such high quality to be called Premiers Cru).
St-Emilion: Found on the “Right Bank” of the Dordogne River, the wines of St-Emilion are always red. Piggy-backing off of the Medoc, St-Emilion also has a Grand Cru Classe ranking for their chateaux.
Pomerol: This is the smallest of the top red wine regions in Bordeaux. Pomerol, also on the “Right Bank” of the Dordogne, makes about 15% as much wine as St-Emilion. Though Pomerol does not have a ranking system, one can almost be assured (since they are so scarce) that most Pomerols are the bomb.
As far as grape varietals go, you will rarely see the breakdown of grapes listed on the bottle. Bordeaux does, however, follow rules in terms of which grapes are allowed in their wines. The whites of Graves (including the dessert wine of Sauternes) is primarily made of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. As far as reds go, Bordeaux can be made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. To figure out what is the predominant grape, just look at the rivers. Wines from the “Left Bank” are Cabernet Sauvignon based, while those from the “Right Bank” are mostly Merlot.
On the real, though… I’m tired of getting my nerd on. Let’s get some drink!
There were three distributors at the event; James, Luke, and Jon. Each had their own table with hella different styles of Bordeaux to choose from. To make sure we started with whites, moved to reds, and finished with Sauternes, Kara and I had to bounce around a bit from one table to the next.
First… The Whites!
Chateau Ducasse 2010 Bordeaux Blanc ($18): We started at Luke’s table with this white wine made of 60% Semillon. It had a crisp, flowery finish. A great way to start the day. 86
Chateau Hout Rian 2010 Bordeaux Blanc ($11): Over at Jon’s table, we picked up this white made of primarily Semillon. Again, this one had flowery notes, but with a hint of honeysuckle. It was crisp and dry. 85
Once we got our palates primed, we headed moved into the reds at James’ table.
Chateau Petit Manou 2007 Medoc ($21): So, here I am telling you the Left Vs Right Bank rules, and the first red I show you just shatters them. This is a Left Bank wine that is made like a Right-Banker. The Petit Manou is 70% Merlot. The fruit is bright cherry and cranberry with a soft, buttery finish. Good stuff. 87
Chateau Picque Caillou 2007 Pessac-Leognan ($26): A Left-Banker with 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc, the Picque Caillou had a dusty nose with a green palate. 87+
Chateau Mongravey 2008 Margaux ($33): A true Left Bank Bordeaux made of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, the Chateau Mongravey falls under the Cru Bourgeois (just under Grand Cru) classification. This one brought lots of dusty cranberry and Earth notes. 89
Chateau Pipeau 2007 St-Emilion ($34): A Grand Cru from the Right Bank, the Pipeau is 90% Merlot. Now, don’t get it twisted. This is a Merlot with balls. There is a BIG barnyard funk on the nose. The palate brings BIG leather and minerality. It is both juicy and Earthy. Nice! 90
To the next table…
Lafleur Gazin 2007 Pomerol ($45): 80% Merlot. This Right Bank wine brings bright cranberry and cherry fruit. A smooth wine. 89+
Chateau Hout Beausejour 2007 St-Estephe ($25): Barnyard. Raspberry. Dry palate. Good acid. There is a growing note of mushroom the longer the wine stays in the glass. 88+
Chateau Paveil de Luze 2008 Margaux ($30): This is a Left Bank red made of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon The Paveil de Luze has some nice cranberry fruit, but it is more texture driven than anything else. There is a nice acidity on this. 89-
Chateau Gloria 2008 St-Julien($63): 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot from the Left Bank. This wine is silky smooth with leathery tannins and raspberry fruit. Lovely! 91+ G-L-O-R-I-A!
Croix du Trale 2009 Haut-Medoc ($16): We were just about to move on to the last table, when I realized that we missed one of the wines. Considering that the Gloria was so dope, it’s hard to go back to the Croix. Dusty raspberry with butter. Nice, but no Gloria. 88+
With that, we moved on to the last table…
Chateau Belles Graves 2007 Lalande-de-Pomerol ($28): Though not from the actual Pomerol appellation (Lalande-de-Pomerol is on the other side of the train tracks), Belles Graves is well-known for a different reason. This is the wine that Jacques-Yves Cousteau would take on all of his adventures. A Right Bank wine primarilly made from Merlot, this wine was hella tart and dry with fruit of cherries. Not my cup of tea. 86
To make up for the Belles Graves, Luke provided the only vertical of the day with two (real) Pomerols…
Chateau Gombaude Guillot 2005 Pomerol ($67): Now this is why I love these tastings! I’ve heard plenty of folks rave about the 2005 vintage of Bordeaux, but until now I’ve never had the opportunity to taste any 2005 that would be considered more than just a table wine. This Pomerol is 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. On the palate, this right-banker was one smooth criminal. Beautiful cranberry fruit, and a good hit of oak. This wine has the body to last another 15 – 20 years, but is elegant enough to enjoy right now. 92.
Chateau Gombaude Guillot 1996 Pomerol ($60): Oh my! The nose this wine is just dope! Loads of juicy blackberry get smoothed out with tannins of delicious cigar tobacco leaf. Wow! Sometimes I wish you could taste these things with me. Wow! 93
We finished off the tasting with two Sauternes dessert wines…
L’Alliance 2009 Sauternes ($27 Half-Bottle): Luke served us this Sauternes made of 90% Semillon. There is a BIG nose of apricot and gapefruit. On the palate the SWEET dride apricot overpowers the typical yeasty finish. Good, but not what I think of when it comes to Sauternes. 90
Chateau Haut-Peyraguey 2005 Sauternes ($56): Jon capped off our tasting with this Permier Cru chateau from the epic 2005 vintage. In comparison to the L’Alliance, the Haut-Peyraguey is much more reserved with its fruit. This is a yeast-driven Sauternes (the way I think it should be). This dessert wine has a good sweetness, but it is not obnoxious. 91
And there you have it…
One good time.