Thursday night at Fine Wines of Stockton we tasted the final group of 2009 Bordeaux. This last shipment of Bordeaux finally arrived via “slow boat” from France and it was a great way to end our tastings for the year.
With each of these Bordeaux tastings, what we try to do is choose the wine we think has the best potential to age well. Of course, cost always factors into our choice. When Pete and I are tasting, we each choose our favorite wine before the wines are revealed. Often, but not always, we agree on a favorite. If we do not, we re-taste the two favorites, consider the price of the wine and then make our final choice.
Our goal is to always purchase at least three bottles of our favorite. This gives us the ability to hold the wines for several years, and then begin tasting them at yearly intervals to see what they do. We make notes, then see what happens next time we taste. It is fun to see how the wines evolve.
We often do this with Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc as well. Generally most other varietals we purchase with the idea of drinking while we are waiting for the Bordeaux to age. In addition, we purchase Bordeaux for every day drinking too. Sometimes the wines are drinking well now and we buy them to drink reasonably soon.
The things we look for in a Bordeaux to make it age-worthy are complex flavors and ample fruit in relation to tannins so that there will be flavor left as the tannins fall away. In addition, the wine should not be lacking in acid. At this point we expect the tannins to stand out and to be a bit rough, in fact that is part of their appeal. I do not favor bitter tannins, however.
So, here is the final group of 2009 Bordeaux:
Chateau Malescasse – Haut-Medoc. This Cru Bourgeois had dark fruit on the nose and dark fruit with a bit of vegetal flavor. It had good acidity and significant, but bitter tannins. This was the least complex of the wines in this group.
Chateau Andron Blanquet – Saint-Estèphe. This dark ruby wine had a bit of spice on the nose and bright fruit with well-integrated chalky tannins. It had a long finish with both flavors and tannins and had a light mouth feel. The fruit flavors were more complex than the first wine with a bit of vanilla in the background.
Chateau Haut-Bergey – Pessac Léognan. The slightly stinky nose blew off to cedar and vanilla. Dark fruit flavors, vegetal flavors and a burst of cedar accompanied significant grippy tannins. The tannins were not as well integrated as the last wine. The finish was long with flavor and tannins.
Château Gloria – Saint-Julien. The coffee nose was followed by tobacco, cocoa and dark fruit flavors. Significant grippy tannins finished long with flavor. This wine had very complex flavors.
Château La Croix de Gay – Pomerol. The slightly vegetal nose was followed by slightly sweet dark fruit, caramel and a bit of vanilla. Tannins were significant and very grippy. This wine had a light mouth feel. The flavors in this predominantly merlot wine were significantly sweeter than the preceding wines.
Château Carbonnieux – Pessac-Léognan. This Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc, yes a white Bordeaux, blend had melon on the nose and a combination of citrus and melon flavors with good acid. Also present were very light tannins with a long finish of apricots and tannins. It was so amazing to taste the delicate flavors of melon and apricot along with tannins. This was an exceptional white wine. Pessac Léognan is the one area in Bordeaux that is allowed to produce both red and white wines and label them as Bordeaux. I’m glad they do. George loves to pour these fine white wines last just to prove they can stand-up to the red Bordeaux wines.
The two wines we liked best to put in our cellar were the Chateau Haut-Bergey and the Chateau Gloria. The Chateau Gloria had more complex flavors, but was significantly more expensive than the Bergey. We purchased four bottles of the Chateau Haut-Bergey. We will just have to wonder what the Chateau Gloria will taste like in years to come.
We will resume tasting at Fine Wines of Stockton on January 10 with a continuation of our Tuscan Red series – Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.