A team from Binny’s visited Bordeaux, one of France’s most famous wine regions. They tasted samples of the 2013 vintage – now available en premier – visiting chateaux and negociants. Read yesterday’s report here. Steve is back with more:
Day two and we’re on the right bank in St. Emilion and Pomerol. Vineyards spread out along the countryside, but upon reaching St. Emilion, the city is right on top of the vineyards. In fact, Chateau Ausone is on a hillside above their vineyards just 500 meters behind town. Just like we saw on the Left Bank yesterday, the local population and the vineyards are completely interwoven. Towns have grown as a result of the success and history of the wine region, which again is so different from the other regions I’ve visited. St. Emilion especially is a gorgeous old commune straight out of a fairy tale. Old with buildings staggered over steep hills, narrow passageways, vineyards enclosed by stone walls. A tourist destination and certainly worth the visit.
Tasting Bordeaux, Day 2
Many of the chateaux we visit offer an array of wines, not just the one or two bottles bearing the chateau name. Some owners have holdings in other wineries, some have multiple labels, and some have friends with less-known estates who also need representation. Our stop at Angelus, for example, includes an array of over 30 bottles, many we’ve never seen before. We start at La Confession. They offer eleven wines, all of which show well. Croix Mouton, Conseiller, 20 Mille and Sacre all express good red currant and earth tones with medium tannins in an elegant style. Grand Corbin Despagne and Croix St. George both show intense flavors and nice hints of oak. La Confession is the boldest of the flight, with muscular tannins and black fruit. The Amelia from Castillon is my favorite, with elegant balance and underlying candied red fruit.
Next at Angelus, La Fleur de Bouard and Angelus show muscular tannins and seem to be pressing for flavor. At Chateau Ausone, the Chappel Ausone shows good character due to more presence of oak, and Ausone ramps this up a notch.
I run into a couple of my perennial favorites at Canon La Graffiere: Cap de Faugeres and Chateau Faugeres. Both show promise, though nothing explosive. Solid and balanced, I can’t wait to revisit these when they hit our shelves. Canon La Gaffeliere is solid with dark berry flavors and nice oak shades. We taste two wines at Chateau Conseillante, both have dark berry flavors and a nice candied cherry lift to the fruit accented by nice oak and vanilla.
And then we get to Chevel Blanc.
This is a gorgeous, state of the art facility that looks and feels like modern art, including their futuristic looking fermentation tanks. The Petit Ceval is quite nice, but the Cheval reigns here. Dark black an blue fruit with Tobacco and oak showing a big presence, yet this wine still maintains its sense of style, as the tannins never overpower the fruit. This wine will need time, but could very well be the dark horse everyone will want down the road in such a difficult vintage.
Next, a quick stop at Vieux Chateau Certan in Pomerol. Just one wine, and definitely worth the stop. We are greeted in the cellar by the winemaker. In a very humble fashion, he lets the wine speak for itself. With a pretty nose of violets, plum and some cinnamon spice followed by flavors of black cherry, plum and tobacco, with juicy acidity and light oak on the finish. Good stuff.
Chateau Figeac is next. Petit Figeac is nice, with dark plum, clay soil and chocolate backed by bright acidity and a pleasant herbaceousness. The big brother, Chateau Figeac, is wonderful. Blackberry, cassis, tobacco leaf, oaky vanilla, warm forest and clay soil, concentrated, with good balance between tannins, acid and fruit. Complex and driven, this is one to look for, and so far the best wine I’ve tasted from this vintage. More stops include Chateau Clinet in Pomerol – with plum, black cherry and boysenberry fruit framed by clay earth and an underlying freshness, we again have a potential winner – and Chateau L’Eglise Clinet, where we taste six big, extracted wines.
But Wait, There’s More!
After a long second day of tasting 2013 wines, we’re finally off for some dinner and relaxation. We join a negociant for a dinner of fresh Normandy oysters and a beautiful veal stew served over jasmine rice. But before we can eat… you’ve got it, more wines to taste. We taste an array of Bordeaux, but none are from the 2013 vintage. It’s refreshing to savor wines with a bit of age to them.
A few notables are 2012 Roc de Segur, 2011 Milord (previously known as Mylord, they changed the spelling) and 2011 Trois Moulins. Binny’s has offered all three in previous vintages, and all offer great production at a great price. The new vintages are as solid as the previous. Several other newer wines, including 2010 Chateau Mirambeau Papin, 2011 Chateau La Diligente and 2010 Chateau Milon also show well, with bigger berry flavors and great balance. And dinner is excellent.
Day two complete, time to recharge the batteries. More tomorrow…