Discover Bordeaux – Tasting Event

In November, I reported on a tasting I attended of Bordeaux wines under $30.  (See “Inexpensive Bordeaux? – There are a Few Worth Trying”.) Well, if I remember correctly, I wasn’t entirely blown away, although there were a few good values to be found.  Well, last Sunday, I attended the “Discover Bordeaux” event presented by Vintages, and after tasting through many of the wines represented it’s obvious to see what a difference  $20 – $30 (or in some cases a lot more) makes.  Most of the wines I tried I would be very pleased to have a bottle of.  Unfortunately, many of them were a bit beyond my budget at this time (and probably for a long time).

All the wines were from the 2007 vintage, which started out as a nail-bitter for many growers who were fearing disaster.  After a very warm April, there was lots of unsettled weather giving cool temperatures and dampness.  Fortunately, September came around and saved the harvest.  It was the driest September since 1985 which enabled the grapes to hang on the vines a very long time.  In some cases it was 140 days from flowering to harvest (normally it’s about 100 days).

Some of the bottles from less prestigious appellations, such a Moulis and Medoc, provided some good value as did one from the more prestigious Margaux.  Tasting notes on the good value wines will be in the following post.  This post will focus on the more expensive wines.  Most of my favourites of the tasting hail from the vineyards of St-Emilion, Saint-Julien, Pessac-Leognan, and Margaux, as well as a couple of sweet wines from Sauternes (which I will write about in another post).

Chateau Angélus 2007 Saint-Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé B:  This was my favourite wine of the tasting, but unfortunately at $225 a bottle it’s a bit out of my price range.  The vineyards of Chateau Angélus are located on clay and limestone soils and are planted with 51% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The grapes are hand-picked at a very low yield of 35 to 40 hl/ha.  The wine is aged for 22 months in oak and about 10,000 cases are made a year.  The 2007 was stunning, with intense aromas of violets, lavender, rich, ripe black cherries and black raspberries, chocolate, and a hint of cinnamon.  It has a luxurious silky texture with ample, but ripe and well-integrated tannins.  Black cherry, cassis, and allspice dominated the very long finish.  It was too good to spit!

Chateau Figeac 2007 Saint-Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé B: ($115 a bottle) This estate was once a huge property of 175 hectares, but financial woes meant that a large part of it was sold off in the 1800s.  In 1832 a sizeable chunk was sold off and later became the now Grand Cru Classé A estate of Cheval-Blanc.  The vineyards lie on 3 hills with gravelly soils providing excellent drainage.  The soils here favour the Cabernet varieties so 35% is planted with Cabernet Franc, 35% with Cabernet Sauvignon, with just 30% Merlot.  The wine is aged in new oak for up to 20 months.  I found the 2007 to be a bit darker than the Angélus with more earth, spice, black licorice, and chocolate, along with some red fruit.  The luxurious texture melts into a very long length with a bit of a savoury note on the finish.  Delicious.

Chateau La Gaffeliere 2007 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru: ($85 a bottle) The grapes are grown on south facing vineyards between the Ausone and Pavie hills, where they receive ideal sunshine for ripening.  The wine is aged in new and used barrels from 14 to 16 months.  The blend is mostly Merlot with a small amount of Cabernet Franc and sometimes Cabernet Sauvignon.  The 2007 has intense aromas of violets, maraschino cherries, perfume, strawberries, and a hint of smoke.  A very silky texture lead into flavours of juicy red berries.  There were firm tannins and a long length. A very pleasurable wine!

Chateau Kirwan 2007 3rd Growth Margaux: ($65) Chateau Kirwan has been in existence as a wine producer since the 1700s.  Its vineyards are planted with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Petit Verdot.  I loved the beautiful floral perfume of rose petals, lavender, strawberry, dark berries, and exotic spice this wine possesses.  The silky texture with a hint of vanilla and fine, dusty tannins made me swoon.  Loved it!

Chateau Léoville Poyferré 2007 2nd Growth Saint-Julien: ($84 a bottle) The vines are planted on thin gravelly soils and the wines are aged in barrel for 18 to 20 months.  The blend for this wine is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc.  Aromas of exotic spice, lavender, blueberry, and cassis dominate .  It has a smooth texture with chewy tannins, rich fruit and subtle cedar flavours.  It made me weak at the knees.

Chateau de Fieuzal 2007 Pessac-Leognan: ($84 a bottle) The vineyards are planted on gravelly-sandy soils which are typical of the area and the 39 hectares of red vines are planted with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 4.5% Cabernet Franc, and 2.5% Petit Verdot.  The estate also has 9 hectares of white vines which are about half and half Semillion and Sauvignon Blanc.  This wine has a definite minerally, wet-stone character like pavement just after a light rain.  There is also a touch of anise, violets, raspberry, and lead pencil.  It has very ripe, juicy strawberry flavours with good acidity and well-integrated tannins.  A very elegant and pleasurable wine.

There were many other wines I enjoyed but for the sake of keeping this post a reasonable length I will cut it off here.

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