Friday, November 27, 2009


The LCBO has a boxed set of six Bordeaux nicely packaged for the holiday, so I thought I would splurge myself to a bit of Christmas in the present, get in the holiday spirit, and learn a bit about Bordeaux.

If I can't actually get to France in the near future I can at least explore the fruit of vineyards so near to Paris.

Yvon Mau has presented the collection in a nice wooden chest that will get a second life on the boat next season. All the wine inside is AOC Bordeaux. Unfortunately, no 2005 vintages. Although it is commonly said there are no more bad vintages in this region anymore, 2009 is supposed to be one of the best in 60 years. I know it was a good year for me, too.

The first bottle I opened was Chateau Haut Biraud, 2007. Or as Rob called it, 'Hot Broad.' Not one of the better chateaus in France but now for me at least, one of the best names. The wine itself was surprisingly opaque in the glass, a nice deep garnet, and great legs when swirled (just what you'd expect of a hot broad). Wonderful aroma and nicely balanced. No finish to speak of, though. Blend 55% merlot, 30% cab sauvignon and 15% cabernet franc.

Next was Chateau Boutillot, 2007. I'm guessing when Rob sees this label he'll dub it 'Boot a lot'. The tasting notes say, "a gracious Bordeaux blessed by nature and terroir... produced by a certified sustainable agriculture estate." 51% merlot, 41% cab sauvignon and 8% cabernet franc. I prefer this to the first, although it isn't as nicely balanced and is a bit sharp on the first taste, it has a very lasting, satisfying finish.

Three of the six bottles are 2007 - a year the Wine Doctor calls 'the Hollywood vintage': prolonged desperation through a chilly summer with no apparent hope of reprieve until almost the last minute, a miraculous change of fortunes when all looked lost, and it all - well, almost all - turns out alright at the end:
  • Early but irregular budbreak
    Followed by irregular flowering and ripening, requiring a lot of work in the vineyard.
  • Cool and drizzly summer weather
    Delaying ripening, encouraging disease, requiring even more work in the vineyard.
  • Miraculous recovery
    When all hope seemed dashed, warm September weather meant that there would at least be wines to be made.
At the Food and Wine show I went to the Lifford booth and tasted a luscious 2005 Bordeaux, Chateau Marjosse ($40). Right after I visited the Wines of France & tasted something they were promoting as 'good value' ($12)- so light I thought they'd mixed it with water. So far the wines from this case are solidly in between, as far as taste and price go. I can't help but wonder what a really fine bordeaux would taste like, a fine recent vintage (1990, 2000 or 2005) from a chateau like Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, Margaux or Haut-Brion? Must buy a lottery ticket!

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