Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bordeaux Delisieux

This week's class focused on Bordeaux, and it's a good thing it was saved for last.  The wines from this region are exceptional.  The appellation system in Bordeaux is all messed up, and there are over 10 000 appellation chateaux, which makes it another really difficult to know regions (like Burgundy).  I am not looking forward to being tested on my knowledge of this region because of that!  [And we have a test next week *cringe*]  There are, thankfully, a few main regions and chateaux that are important to know, and so our tastings this week focused on them.  The wines were fantastic overall, so it was hard to pick a favourite.  The least favourite was easier, but it wasn't actually from France.  I will explain more below.

My favourite wine of the night was a Chateau Monbrison Cru Bourgeois 2004 from Margaux.  Margaux is well-known for its excellent mostly-cabernet-sauvignon wines, so it was no surprise that this one was magnificent.  It was a deep mahogany colour with just a touch of sediment, indicative of its age.  It had a complex nose of cassis, plum, tea, leaves, pepper, graphite, mushroom, and other things.  The taste was juicy, angular, and elegant; it tasted like minted black currant, toffee, and graphite.  The finish was long and velvety.  This was really a pleasure to drink.  It felt graceful and delicate on the tongue, though it carried a big muscly taste - it was like a ballet dancer, all strength and lightness.  Recommend!

My least favourite of the evening was a Stagecoach 2006 cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley in the USA.  I feel like it's a bit unfair to compare this wine to the French wines, but the instructor has included one or two new-world wines each week, of the same grape as that native to the area in France that we're learning about, in order to contrast the styles.  The wines taste very different because the climates are so different, the history is different, the terroir is nowhere near the same, and all these things affect the grapes and their production into wine.  I therefore try not to compare too much, because they're just not the same sort of thing.  Unfortunately, the other Bordeaux wines were *really good*, and this one was a bit disappointing even among its new-world peers, so it appears here tonight.  The nose was lovely, with lots of black cherry, vanilla, licorice, cloves and mocha, but it was unbalanced.  The wine really socked me in the mouth, and had unfortunate tannins and high alcohol taste.  Bummer, but maybe other years are better for this wine.

A special treat for the evening was a spectacular 1995 Chateau Barde-Haut St. Emilion Grand Cru.  Consistent with the region's wines, it was mostly merlot, and had a rich red-brick colour, and the most delicious, round, velvety taste.  Trying this wine was even more special because a man in the class brought this in to share with us, out of his own generosity.  I don't know how long he had the bottle, or what madness drove him to bring it in to divvy up among 25 people, but I thank him from the bottom of my heart for deciding to let us try it.  It was a real and rare treat.

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