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Bordeaux Weekend, Plus Random Thoughts

February 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Somehow, last weekend happened to evolve around Bordeaux. First, there was “Lafite Around The World” tasting at Saltwater Grille restaurant in Stamford, featuring Lafite-Rothschild wines from around the world (don’t worry, there was no “all you can drink” Chateau Lafite). The actual French wines (2008 Chardonnay from Languedoc and 2009 Lafite Reserve Speciale Blanc and Rouge) were rather unimpressive (drinkable, but not necessarily enjoyable). Chilean Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is usually a good wine, and the 2008 was no exception. Amancaya, which is a blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina, produced jointly by Lafite-Rothschild and Nicolas Catena, was best of tasting, with silky smooth tannins and soft full-bodied fruit expression. It perfectly complemented couple of excellent appetizers served at the tasting, such as steak tartar and roast beef.

The next Bordeaux experience was courtesy of Cost Less Wines and Liquors, which was running a Bordeaux tasting. Two of the wines in that tasting were from 2009, which is being touted as the best vintage in Bordeaux in many decades. In general, comprehending young Bordeaux wines, especially from the great years (like 2000, 2003, 2005, 2009) is not simple, as Bordeaux wines really need time in the cellar to shine. The good thing about great years in Bordeaux is that you really don’t need to look for top producers (and deep into your retirement savings to be able to afford it) – pretty much any producer will deliver a very nice and enjoyable wine. I don’t know if it is just a year, or is it a widespread change in production methods in Bordeaux, but 2009s are a lot more approachable than 2000s – and quite enjoyable already.

As we discussed before, a lot of factors influence taste. I don’t know if this is just because of the widespread notion “2009 Bordeaux are great”, but when I was drinking these 2009s, a little voice in my head was saying “just think how amazing it will be in 10-15 years…”. If you can only learn once thing from the wine world, I think that “thing” should be … patience. From harvesting the grapes at the best moment to waiting for the wine to reach optimum age to even moving very slowly while pealing a label from the bottle – patience is a friend around wine…

To give you quick roundup on the tasting, the last two wines were my favorites – 2006 Marquis de Pez, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, was austere and fruit forward at the same time, and 2009 Chateau Haut Beyzac was very round and polished already – it’s good now, just imagine it in 10 years! And a bonus “feature” of these two wines – they both are under $15.

As Bordeaux 2009 start coming on the shelves, you will have to make a hard decision – drink now or wait. Not so hard, you say? Well, I heard that while 2009 was vintage of the century, 2010 might be even better….

Daily Glass: Iron Horse, Opus One and First Taste of 2009 Bordeaux

October 26, 2010 Leave a comment

And again great folks from Stew Leonard’s Wines in Norwalk, Connecticut, helped many of us to learn and experience, and even with the new twist.

The twist was the fact that Iron Horse tasting was set as “SIP and TWIT” event – you can tweet about wines you are tasting, and as long as everybody adding #stewswines at the end of the twits, all twits can be easily found in social media channels. Besides, you can sign up for winetwits.com and become part of the information-sharing (“twitting”) network about the wines.

While this is all fun, let’s talk a bit about wines. There were 4 different wines from Iron Horse in the tasting. Sparkling Wedding Cuvee, Sparkling Brut, Pinot Noir, and unoaked Chardonnay. All four were good wines, but they didn’t stand out.

opusone_2007The next wine from the same tasting definitely belongs to the “experiences” group. Opus One, the product of joint venture between Napa legend Robert Mondavi and Bordeaux superpower Baron Rothschild, this wine was created to achieve the maximum potential of Napa Valley signature grape, Cabernet Sauvignon. Opus One is quite expensive, rare and collectible, and 2007 was a great year for California’s Cabernet wines, with very high ratings across the board from all different wine publications – this two factors combined promise a great experience.

The wine had a magnificent smell of Cabernet Sauvignon, with licorice, eucalyptus and black currant on the nose, very smooth and powerful on the palate, with balanced tannins. Finish left to be desired more, somehow subsiding to the greenish, a bit underripe grape. It is a very good wine – however, in my book, the QPR is a king, as soon as we are done talking about tannins and finish. And at $149, it is absolutely not a bargain. There are so many equally well made Cabernet Sauvignon wines, at a fourth, fifth or even sixth part of the price, that it immediately changes the whole picture. It is a great experience, but not the one where you feel that you have to make the next step and actually own a bottle.

Last, but not least for this post is the first taste of 2009 Bordeaux. chateau_de_colombier_2009Just a regular Bordeaux, Chateau du Colombier, $11.99 at Bottle King – but from the 2009 vintage. 2009 vintage is compared to the greatest Bordeaux vintages of all times, such as 1949, 1982, 2000 and 2005. Of course, Bordeaux requires aging, from 10 to 30 years (or longer), in order to really shine. And getting aged Bordeaux is becoming impossible, as it skyrockets in price and becomes extremely scarce. But the good thing is that in a great year, even the simplest Bordeaux bottlings will deliver great value and will age very well, so you will be able to enjoy aged Bordeaux after all.

This particular wine had a very nice nose and palate of dark fruits, with good acidity and tannins. No, it was not an amazing wine – yet. This is the time to experiment. Get a few bottles of Bordeaux 2009, stash it in the far most corner of your cellar, and don’t touch it for 5-7 years. And after that – reach out, get that bottle opened – you might be on the way to discover greatness…

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