Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bordeaux Notes- Tasting the Left Bank

Bordeaux's famed Left Bank includes the land west of the Gironde Estuary and the Garonne River. It stretches from the Medoc Peninsula to Graves. The soils are gravel based making it the perfect home for warm gravel loving Cabernet Sauvignon. This combination of soil and grapes leads to firmly structured wines with good amounts of tannin and a flavor profile that may include dark fruit, cassis, graphite, tobacco, cedar, pepper, coffee or cocoa. 

Bordeaux is usually a blended wine but that is not mandated by law. The blend for each Chateau is usually determined by the type of soils they possess. In the north, the soils get heavier with more clay making Merlot increasingly important.
Starting in the north, the Medoc is a sub-region of Bordeaux.
Chateau Greysac Medoc 2004 ($20)- 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Clear, deep garnet going brickish at the rim. Clean, medium+ intensity, developing aromas of mixed red and black fruit with cedar and cigar box. Dry, medium body, acid, alcohol and tannin with flavors of black berries and cherries with tobacco ending with a medium length finish. Good/Drink now.

Next is the largest of the six communes, Saint-Estephe. In the past, its wines were thought to mature more slowly (meaning lacking charm in youth) than its southern neighbors. Even in the famed 1855 Classification, only five wines were noted and none received 1st Growth status. In recent years, more Merlot is showing up in many winemaker's blends making for more approachable upon release wines.
Chateau Montrose Saint-Estephe 2004  ($75)- Clear, medium+ ruby color going garnet on the rim. Clean, medium+ developing aromas of black fruit, sage, leather and a bit of black olive. Dry, medium+ body, acidity, alcohol and tannins with a juicy black currant medium+ length finish. Very good/ drink now, has some aging potential.

Continuing south to the Haut Medoc sub-region, the general appellation for the vineyards north of the city of Bordeaux up to the Medoc border. Cru Bourgeois wines are important here although there are also 5 classed growths.
Chateau La Tour Carnet Grand Cru Classe Haut Medoc 2006 ($37) - Clear, deep ruby. Clean, medium intense developing aromas of fresh blackberries with cigar and pencil box. Dry, medium+ body/alcohol, medium acidity and medium+ tannins with a medium length blackberry/cocoa finish. Very good/drink now.

On down to the Graves sub-region. Graves is historically significant as the location of Bordeaux's first vineyards. Wine styles include dry red and white and also sweet white under the Graves Superieures AC.
Chateau Cabannieux Reserve Graves Grand Vin de Bordeaux 2000  ($27) - Clear, deep garnet with a brickish rim. Clean, medium intense, fully-developed aromas of black fruit, cedar and cigar box. Dry, medium body/alcohol, medium+ acidity and tannins, flavors mirroring aromas with a medium+ length finish. Good+/drink now.

Within Graves is the commune appellation of Pessac-Leognan. They produce both Cab-dominated reds and light whites from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion blends. 
Chateau Haut-Bergey Pessac-Leognan 2006  ($43) - Clear, medium lemon yellow color with a watery rim. Clean, medium intense developing aromas of citrus and smoke. Dry, medium+ body, acidity and alcohol with flavors of lemon, flint and smoke with a medium length finish. Good/Drink now.

Also within Graves lies the Sauternes appellation which includes five communes on the bank of the Cirons River. This area has a unique macro-climate making it the perfect place to produce botrytized sweet wines.
Chateau Doisy-Vedrines Grand Cru Classe Sauternes 2003 ($29/half bottle) - 
Clear, medium gold color. Clean, medium intense developing aromas of apricot and honey with a bit of canned mushroom and a bit of sulfur. Sweet, medium everything with a medium length honeyed finish. Good/drink now.
Chateau Coutet Premier Cru Classe 2005 ($40/half bottle) -
Clear, medium gold color. Clean, medium intense developing aromas of nectarine, apricot, marmalade and honey with a surprising bit of kerosene. Sweet, medium+ everything with a long-length honeyed finish. Outstanding/drink now or hold.

Related Posts:
Chateau Lafon Rochet 2005
Notes from a Bordeaux Wine Tasting
Bordeaux- Regional Notes