Archive for July, 2011

Soare 2001 vs 2005 by Vinarte

July 29, 2011 1 comment

I met Nicusor Cazan, another fellow wine blogger from Bucharest, last night to taste two Romanian wines from Vinarte. We gathered just in time for dinner at Trattoria Roma near Opera Center, and did an academical exercise by having a small vertical of Vinarte’s flagship wine: Castel Soare from two vintages. I am always curios to taste an older Romanian wine. We had a Magnum of 2001 vintage and a regular bottle of 2005 vintage. Both wines, as printed on the back label, are 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 12 months in oak barrels. I previously tasted the 2004 version of this wine here.

2005 Castel Soare Vinarte (12.8% alc)

Ruby red color, similar to a darker Pinot Noir. A developing, youthful nose, tight, with initial aromas of mushrooms that faded away quickly with aeration, leaving space to red fruits and a touch of dried herbs. Medium bodied, with firm tannins, balanced, with red fruit, light greenness and a touch of earth on the palate, and a medium finish with pleasant acidity. The wine is young and comes a bit on the light side for now. (84/100)

2001 Castel Soare Vinarte from Magnum (13.5% alc)

Youthful dark red garnet color, with shades of brick on the rim. A well developed and maturing nose, rich, with charming complexity, sweet, with aromas of old leather, earth, barnyard, red fruits, chocolate and plums. A really nice and interesting nose. Medium to full bodied, very youthful in the mouth, with assertive tannins and good lift, a lively red fruit, cedar and earthy-mineral palate, with further depth given by espresso-coffee bean bitterness. A pleasant mouth-feel and a medium plus finish, with chewy tannins and earthy red fruit in the aftertaste. The nose is sweet, while the palate is more like an old school Bordeaux, with pleasant bitterness and discreet sweet red fruit. A really nice wine. (89/100)

As a conclusion: both wines show a good oak integration and the alcohol is well balanced. The 2001 is surprisingly youthful, and developed into a really interesting wine that can evolve even further. The tannins are still firm, but they are not aggressive and give this wine a good freshness. 2005 does not seem to posses the same texture to develop similarly in time as its older brother. For me, Soare 2001 in Magnum is not only a very interesting wine, but is a wine I will buy to keep in my cellar and see how it evolves over the next 3-5 years. Magnums of 2001 are available at Metro and at the winery for around 160-170 RON.

Categories: Romania

The glamorous winery of Chateau Cos d’Estournel

July 26, 2011 4 comments

My last visit to a winery in Bordeaux was at Chateau Cos d’Estournel in Saint-Estephe on June 24th for 15:30. I missed the correct route leaving from Pontet Canet in Pauillac to St-Estephe, so I arrived at Cos 15 minutes later than scheduled. The guide gave me a quicker than normal tour of the property as the next group – a group of Chinese as I discovered later on – scheduled for 16:00 was about to arrive. However, there was no rush on tasting the wines.

Cos d’Estournel took its modern form after 1811, when Louis d’Estournel developed the estate and expanded its vineyards. The design of the winery was built to remind him of the time he had spent as a trader in the Far East. In 1852 the property was sold to English bankers, who continued to invest in the estate. At this time the wine sold for prices higher than almost all Second Growths. In 1889 the Charmolue family, which would also acquire Montrose a few years later, bought Cos, before selling it in 1917 to Fernand Ginestet. His daughter Arlette married into the Prats family, which is how, in 1971 , it came into the hands of Bruno Prats. In 1998 Prats sold Cos to the Taillan group(owners of Gruaud Larose and many other properties) and some Argentinian investors. In 2000 the property was sold to Michel Reybier, a French food manufacturer. After the departure of Bruno Prats his son, Jean-Guillaume, stayed on as a general manager of the domain. Since 2004 the technical director has been Dominique Arangoits, who in his time has made wine in Tokaj. Currently Bruno Prats has wineries and produces wines in Spain in Priorat(was one of the pioneers of Priorat), Portugal, South Africa and other countries.

interior courtyard

spot the elephant here

courtyard and vines in front of the chateau

Some would argue that Cos d’Estournel is closer in style to Pauillac than St-Estephe. It is certainly true that the vineyards share a long boundary with Chateau Lafite. The soil is very gravelly and there is less clay than at most St-Estephe properties. The drainage is excellent and it is the sand mixed in with the gravel that helps retain water to keep hydric stress at bay in hot summers. There is also a high proportion of Merlot planted, which is not the case at most Pauillac properties. The vineyards hug the chateau, except for a parcel belonging to its neighbor Cos-Labory. Cabernet Sauvignon is planted on higher ground, Merlot lower down. The average age of the vines is 35 years old, while some parcels are over 70 years old. Yields range around 40-45 hl/ha. There are 64 ha under vines and the grapes are 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. The wine is aged for 18 months in new French oak, the proportion of new oak varies considerably depending on the vintage. Cos is fined in the barrel, but is no longer filtered before bottling.

The winery and cellar of Cos d’Estournel are breathtakingly beautiful. The owners recently invested about Eur 30 Millions in state of the art technology and rebuilt the winery. They added custom made temperature controlled stainless-steel vats in an attempt to vinify separately as many parcels as possible for a better control of the final blend, a barrel aging room with a cat-walk like bridge that goes on top of the oak barrels and leads to the wine library containing older vintages of Cos – some of the oldest are from early 1800, and a tasting room with clear Indian influences that can compete with any smart fusion lounge in the world.

custom made stainless steel vats

After the tour of the winery, we returned back to the tasting room where I had the chance to taste three of their wines: 2010 Chateau Cos d’estournel, 2010 Pagodes de Cos – Cos second wine, and 2010 Goulee by Cos d’Estournel – a northern Medoc made wine.

tasting room interior

large Riedel glasses for the tasting

brochure with info on 2010 vintage

preparing to taste some serious wines

2010 Goulee by Cos d’Estournel

Blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot.  Average yield for the vintage: 30 hl/ha. 13.74% alcohol.

Red garnet color and the least colored of all three wines tasted. A spicy nose with plenty of red fruit, with an interesting complexity given by additional aromas of musk and bacon fat. Really nice nose. Medium plus bodied, with good tannins structure, charming palate and a medium chocolatey finish. Very approachable already. (91-92/100)

2010 Pagodes de Cos

Blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Merlot. Proportion of first and second wine: 55% Cos d’Estournel and 45% Pagodes de Cos. Average yield for the vintage: 38 hl/ha. 14.13% alc.

Dark red-purple color. A tighter nose than the Goulee, with good Cabernet like flavors on the palate: rich blackcurrant, spices and coffee aromas, good mouth-feel and a medium plus finish with nice flavors of chocolate, black tea and mint. (91-92/100)

2010 Chateau Cos d’Estournel

Blend of 78% Cab Sauv, 19% Merlot, 2% Cab Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. It is said that they use Petit Verdot only in the best vintages. 14.5% alc

Deep dark purple color and the thickest texture of the three. A very elegant nose already, with complex aromas of mint, spices, red currant and coffee bean. Full bodied, rich and dense on the palate, with solid ripe tannins, well structured and balanced, with ample fruit, showing great freshness and good minerality. A very long finish with intense aromas of fruit, black tea, chocolate and coffee. A wine with depth and freshness. (96-98/100)

I have to say that of all the wineries I have seen in Bordeaux during my 3 days trip, Cos was the most impressive.  This was my last trip to a domain for FRI, after making a marathon from one Chateau to another, from Saint Julien to Pauillac and then St-Estephe, visiting and tasting the wines. This was overall an unexpectedly rewarding trip for me and I am certainly looking forward to return to Bordeaux as soon as possible.

Categories: Bordeaux, France

BBQ and Thierry Allemand

It is always fun to visit friends that you have not met for a while, as the joy of seeing and spending quality time with them is priceless. We spent great moments last night, meeting our Greek friends after not seeing them for more than a couple of months. The weather was lovely outside as the high temperatures from last week took a break, so we just sat in their garden and enjoyed a lovely summer night with an old fashioned barbeque. We started serving the appetizers with a charming white Italian frizzante.

Merlino Pinot Nero frizzante

Medium yellow lemon color with discreet small bubbles. Fresh nose, with deep citrus, dough and mineral aromas. Bright acidity, frizzante, rich and creamy on the palate, with generous flavors of citrus, chalk, wet stones, with a medium lingering grapefruit peel finish. Fresh and creamy. (87/100) 12% alc

It is hard not to like this wine on a summer day next to black and red fish eggs on a bed of bread with butter. As our hosts started to prepare the barbecue, I took the initiative and opened the first bottle of red wine.

I long wanted to open a bottle of 2009 Hyperion Cabernet Sauvignon and taste the wine knowing that 2009 was a good vintage in Dealu Mare. I received a bottle as a free sample from the producer a few weeks ago, so I decided to open it and share the experience with our friends. A full review of this wine is here.

The wine of the night for me was, unquestionably, a Syrah from one of the most acclaimed Northern Rhone appellations: Cornas. I had two more encounters with the wines of this producer in the past, both coming from the 2006 vintage: Chaillot and Reynard. 2007 was a better vintage in the Northern Rhone, the wines having all the attributes to develop and last 18+ years.

2007 Thierry Allemand Reynard Cornas

Deep red purple, almost opaque in color. Youthful, very complex and well developed nose, extremely spicy, with rich aromas of cinnamon, cloves, blackberry and crushed black pepper. Intense meaty-beef blood aromas come out of the glass as the wine breathes, mixed with a touch of hot stones minerality and soy sauce. Gorgeous nose. Medium plus bodied, well structured on the palate, with firm tannins and bright acidity, great mouth-feel, very fresh, with flavors of roasted herbs, mint, red fruits, green vegetables, spices and beautiful minerality. Very long finish, spicy, mineral and meaty. Very long life ahead and it will become an even more interesting wine in time. (94/100)

A 100% Syrah from 40+ years old vines with superb freshness and very easy to drink. The wine was served next to an aged medium-rare T-Bone steak, grilled on the barbecue. I honestly cannot think of a better pairing for this wine, as the wine is mirroring the meat flavors.

T-Bone before grilling

after grilling

Another top notch dinner prepared by Christiana and quality moments spent with our Greek friends. Life is terrible.

Categories: France, Italy, Romania

2009 Hyperion Cabernet Sauvignon

July 22, 2011 1 comment

100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 12 months in American oak. 2009 is considered a great vintage in Romania.

2009 Hyperion Cabernet Sauvignon

Dark red garnet color. The nose is undeveloped, oaky, with youthful aromas of red fruits and yoghurt. A medium to full bodied wine, with good Cabernet typicality, balanced and well structured on the palate, with flavors of red fruits, blackcurrant, green bell pepper, cedar and firm tannins . The finish is medium plus long, a bit spicy, very dry, with grippy tannins and modest complexity. (84-85/100)

At this stage, I find no Cab typicality on the nose, as a matter of fact it seems more of a generic nose to me, and the oak still has to blend in. The wine tastes better than it smells, but the finish is a bit aggressive.

Categories: Romania

2006 Michel Redde Cuvee Majorum Pouilly-Fume

July 21, 2011 14 comments

Tasted by the glass at the wine-bar. 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Pouilly Fume.

2006 Michel Redde Cuvee Majorum Pouilly-Fume

Deep yellow lemon-gold color. While cold, the nose is pretty tight, but after it gets warmer in the glass, the wine starts to open with elegant and complex aromas of dried lemons, grapefruit, wet rocks minerality and spices. Medium bodied, with intense clean fresh fruit and rich honeyed layers on the palate, mixed with a well developed minerality and vibrant acidity. A medium plus finish, spicy and mineral. (89-90/100)

It is recommendable to drink this wine a touch warmer than too cold as it enables to reveal more complex aromas.

Categories: France

2007 Chateau La Garde Pessac Leognan

A property that belongs to Bordeaux negociant Dourthe and a wine coming from 2007 – quite a modest vintage for Bordeaux. A predominantly Merlot based wine.

2007 Chateau La Garde Pessac-Leognan

Deep dark red garnet color. A developed and sweet oaky nose, with ripe blackberry and plum, cocoa, cinnamon and even shades of warm forest floor. Medium bodied, very approachable, with mellow tannins, bright acidity, flavors of cocoa, black and red berries, with good minerality and a medium spicy-mineral finish. (87-88/100)

This wine is drinking very well now.

Categories: Bordeaux, France

2009 Joseph Drouhin Clos des Mouches Blanc

July 21, 2011 9 comments

I had this wine by the glass at the new wine-bar opened by Le Manoir just near the Hilton Hotel in Bucharest.

2009 Joseph Drouhin Clos des Mouches Blanc

Medium gold color. Complex and intense nose, with deep aromas of smoked citrus fruit, flowers and wet rocks. Full bodied, with good acidity, opulent on the initial attack, with very pronounced smoke aromas coming from a sustained minerality, with flavors of honey, nuts and citrus fruits. Medium to long finish, fresh, with mouth watering acidity and citric minerality. (91-92/100)

The smoke flavors are really interesting in this wine.

Categories: France

2009 Joseph Drouhin Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons

2009 Joseph Drouhin Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons

Culoare galben aurie. Nas proaspat, curat, putin afumat, mineral, cu arome de fagure de miere, roca umeda, lamai si tomate verzi. Corpolenta medie spre plina, cu atac initial mineral, bogat in arome citrice, aciditate sustinuta si un final proaspat, de intensitate medie, cu aciditate prelungita de aromele intense de lamaie si mar galben din postgust. Revigorant si placut. 170 Ron la Le Manoir. (88-89/100)

Categories: France

Chateau Gruaud-Larose 2006

July 20, 2011 2 comments

side view of Gruaud Larose

As I had about 1 h free between the visits of Saint-Pierre and Leoville Poyferre in Saint Julien, and seeing the signs on the main road pointing to its direction, I decided to stop and visit Chateau Gruaud-Larose. As I had no prior appointment, I just parked the car outside the property and took some pictures of the vines and the chateau itself. The garden looks perfect, everything lined up with an almost microscopical attention.

There was a group of Asians in the famous tower of Gruaud-Larose and is no surprise as this producer has quite a good reputation in Asia. The soil is typically Saint-Julien: gravelly- Cabernet Sauvignon benefits from this type of soil and the green harvesting was already done on June 24th.

Gruaud-Larose produces wines that might not be accessible in their youth, but are capable of aging 20+ years. While it lost its shine for a certain period in the last couple of decades, it started to emerge back as a reputable producer. Vintages like 2000 and 2005 produced very good wines, while 2010 was also rated very high.

I didn’t visit the property, nor tasted any of its wines while in Bordeaux, but I did open a bottle yesterday that I had in my cellar. While considered a lesser vintage after the stellar 2005, the 2006 produced some classic wines in all of Bordeaux that offer great drinking pleasure for considerably less money than the ’05s.

2006 Chateau Gruaud-Larose Saint-Julien

Youthful red garnet color. A developed and youthful nose, sweet, with smoke, fresh red currant and black cherry, coffee, dry herbs and cedar. Medium to full bodied, balanced, with assertive tannins, and gorgeous layers of tobacco, cigar’s ash, green coffee bean, tar and perfumed black tea, mouthwatering acidity, good mouth-feel, finishing with a beautiful mix of blackberry washing the cheeks, and continued with a pure black tea-espresso bitterness in the medium plus aftertaste. A very young wine with a long life ahead. Love it. 13% alc (91/100)

A wine that craves to be paired with rich food, as the tannins can easily balance and wash any fat on the palate. I am thinking about pork dishes and slow cooked beef stews. A wine that is not rich in fruit flavors and is more on the classical side of Old School Bordeaux.

Categories: Bordeaux, France

Chateau Pontet Canet – a rising star in Pauillac

July 15, 2011 1 comment

My visit at Chateau Pontet Canet in Pauillac was scheduled for 14:00 on June 24th. I arrived a bit earlier and, as it was lunch time and all the staff had a break, I managed to keep myself busy by visiting the horse stables and by walking in the vines in front of the neighboring Chateau Mouton Rothschild.

I did some research about Pontet Canet before visiting. After belonging to Pontet family for 140 years, Pontet Canet was bought in 1862 by Herman Cruse, a negociant of Danish origin. Cruse has arrived in Bordeaux as a young man and made a great success of exporting to Germany and Scandinavia. He paid for Pontet Canet – and also Giscours, d’Issan, Rausan-Segla and others – with the proceeds of a magnificent gamble: during the market collapse following the 1848 Revolution he had acquired at extremely low prices in excess of 16 million bottles of the great 1847 vintage of some 130 estates, the greatest included, and had resold them at high prices when the market had improved.

the wooden vats room

Cruse set about enlarging the vineyard and putting it in order, renovated the Chateau and landscaped the grounds, built an underground barrel cellar and equipped the vat-room with the latest technology. The quality improved considerably, and the the end of the century the wine was selling at 2eme cru prices. Yet, bottles varied a lot for the wine was frequently exported in barrel and bottled by the buyer, or bottled in Bordeaux. The Cruses did not believe in chateau-bottling, and were the last to adopt this procedure in 1972. For a long period Pontet Canet was listed on the wine list of the SNCF wagons-lits restaurant cars. What was sold on the trains was a non-vintage blend, consisting of inferior vats and years. This was bad for its reputation and a negative image was created. The property was acquired in 1975 by Guy Tesseron, son-in-law of Emmanuel Cruse, who owned Chateau Lafon Rochet and an important name in the Cognac business.

view of the chateau from the vineyard

As a result of the introduction of manual harvesting, rigorous selection, the creation of a second wine(Les Hauts de Pontet Canet) in 1982, the installation of temperature-controlled stainless steel vats, the wine started to reflect the quality of the terroir. The vineyards are in 2 large blocks, divided into 92 parcels. About 50 ha surround the chateau, and aother 28 ha are on the other side of the D2 road, on slopes leading down toward the estuary. This latter block is where much of the Merlot is planted. The other block rises to a height of almost 30 m, over a sub-soil of clay and limestone.

gravelly soil

In 2003 Tesseron stopped using herbicides. By 2000, modern new wooden fermentation vats replaced old ones. Separate sorting tables are used for the top parcels and for the lesser parcels. The crushed grapes fall by gravity into the vats.

one of the sorting tables

wooden vats room

cement tanks

The grand vin is aged for about 16-20 months, depending on the vintage, in a high proportion of new French oak. Les Hauts de Pontet is aged for 12 months in older barrels. Michel Rolland consults since 1999.

barrel aging room

The property works bio-dynamically 25 ha of the total 80 ha it owns, and plans to work bio-dynamically the entire property in the near future. Investments in horses and special designed equipment, coupled with a strong commitment, will push this property to reach its goal towards bio-dynamics and reach higher levels of quality.

There is a continuous experimenting taking places: around 12 egg-shaped cement tanks are used to compare how wine ages. While entering the underground cellar, a few bottles of Pontet Canet 2005 lay down in a pyramid liked structure with a controlled temperature and humidity. According to my host and contrary to my initial thought, the aging process is accelerated in a pyramid.

experimental egg-shaped cement tanks

The tour of the property was made in an electric golf like automobile. Very comfy drive and I was able to focus better on the surroundings while enjoying the ride.

The tasting room, also used for receptions and parties, is a spacious chamber on the first floor, just upstairs the cuvier. The tasting room offers a spectacular panorama of the nearby vineyards that you can enjoy while tasting wine.

view from the top

I tasted the 2010 vintage which produced a prodigy at Pontet Canet.

2010 Chateau Pontet Canet

Blend of 65% Cab Sauv, 30% Merlot, 4% Cab Franc, 1% Petit Verdot planned to be aged for 16 months.

A dark purple almost black color. Classic Cab Sauv nose, rich, with good green vegetables aromas, blackcurrant, coffee and tobacco, ample mouth-feel, fresh, good grip on the palate, mouth-watering acidity and a very long finish. (95-98/100)

A wine built to last. The 2010 en-primeur was released at 100 Eur ex-negociant and was the second top traded wine based on both volume and value according to Liv-ex platform. It is a fact that Pontet Canet gained in quality over the last decade, and even though it is labelled as a 5eme Cru, according to the 1855 classification, the wine offers consistent super-Second quality. Just like the Leoville Poyferre, Pontet Canet will be a great addition to any decent cellar and will offer great drinking pleasure for a very long time.

Watch a video about Chateau Pontet Canet:

Categories: Bordeaux, France

Un regal bahic

Duminica trecuta, am fost gazda pentru un grup restrans de oameni apropiati, iar meniul a inclus carne si carnati de la Le Boucherie Francais – cea mai noua macelarie din Bucuresti din zona Dorobanti. Am inaugurat cu aceasta ocazie noua plita pe lemne recent construita in curtea casei, care cu siguranta aduce un plus de gust mancarii si, as spune, se identifica cu conceptul de slow food. Carnea de vita este buna – nu cea de 1800 Ron kg-ul ca inca nu am castigat la Loto, dar mult mai buni mi s-au parut un tip de carnati subtiri frantuzesti din vita si oaie: mai putin condimentati decat cei romanesti si mult mai usor de digerat. Am incercat si un carpaccio de vita care este cu totul altceva decat ce intelege Mega Image-ul prin carpaccio. Foarte fraged si gustos.

Pranzul inceput dupa amiaza s-a transformat in cina extinsa, iar incercand sa fiu o gazda buna si stiind ca unul dintre oaspeti este mare fan Bordeaux, am pus la bataie cateva sticle din noile achizitii din Bordeaux.

Vinul alb primit cadou de la Herve Bizeul -proprietarul Clos des fees, a fost servit la inceput alaturi de aperitive.

2010 Clos des fees Grenache Blanc Vieilles Vignes

Vinul are o culoare auriu deschis, si are nevoie de jumatate de ora sa se deschida. Nasul este destul de expresiv, floral, cu arome de tei, fructe galbene si condimente asiatice. Are o corpolenta plina, gliceric, cu o aciditate pronuntata care sustine acest vin gras, cu un atac initial de dulceata in gura, ce se continua cu arome intense de fructe tropicale, papaya, pepene galben si condiment galben. Postgustul este mediu spre lung, iar vinul surprinde prin aciditatea ridicata care-l face extrem de baubil pentru cele 14.5% de alcool detinute. (90-91/100)

Am continuat cu Phelan Segur 2006 deschis cu doua zile inainte si pastrat in vid la frigider. Un vin ce tradeaza prezenta majoritara a Cabernet Sauvignon-ului, sarac in arome de fruct, dar bogat in arome de verdeata(a nu se intelege un vin verde), de pamant, cafea, tabac, mina de creion, cu o structura tanica buna si postgust mediu. O descriere completa este aici.

Urmatorul vin, deschis cu 2 ore inainte si pastrat la rece in frigider, m-a surprins prin evolutia vizibila din culoarea lui. Comparat cu Phelan Segur care are o culoare rosu rubiniu inchis, urmatorul vin prezinta deja semne de evolutie pronuntata.

2003 Chateau Fonplegade St Emilion Grand Cru

O culoare rosie-rubunie inchisa, cu o bordura portocaliu-caramizie ce tradeaza evolutia avansata. Nasul este dezvoltat, inca tanar, bine conturat, cu arome de prune, condiment, piele si tabac. O corpolenta medie spre plina, cu tanini bine integrati si textura placuta in gura, cu arome intense de fructe rosii si negre de padure, completate de cacao, condiment si cafea. Postgust mediu spre lung fara nici un fel de agresiune tanica. Completeaza foarte bine un steak in sange. (90-91/100)

Interesant de remarcat diferentele dintre Phelan Segur care are un nas pronuntat vegetal-specific Cabernet Sauvignon-ului, si Fonplegade care, datorita Merlot-ului majoritar, are arome voluptoase de pruna coapta si fructe negre de padure.

Dorind sa compar Phelan Segur-ul cu un un alt Saint Estephe, am desfacut un Chateau Le Crock 2005.

Chateau Le Crock 2005 St Estephe

Un vin cu o culoare rosie inchisa, ce tradeaza tineretea. Un Saint-Estephe cu un nas bine conturat, ce a inceput sa dezvolte arome de trufe negre, combinate cu fum, fructe rosii, prune, mina de creion, cu tente timide de sparanghel si ardei gras verde. Corpolenta medie spre plina, afisand o buna structura de tanini in gura, cu arome de cafea verde, condiment, fructe rosii coapte: merisorul este cel mai pregnant si tabac. Un vin cu o complexitate si profunzime medie, interesant, pastrand amprenta anului de exceptie(2005) prin potentialul bun de invechire. Final mediu, proaspat, cu arome savuroase de cacao si merisor in postgust. (89/100)

Comparativ, Phelan Segur este mai traditionalist, cu arome mai Old School Bordeaux, pe cand Le Crock apare mai tanar si mai bogat in fruct. Ar fi interesant de vazut cum evolueaza ambele vinuri in urmatorii 5 ani.

Ultimul vin al serii a fost adus de catre unul dintre oaspeti.

2005 Chateau Golan Syrah

Culoarea este rosie inchisa, opaca. Vinul prezinta cel mai putin dezvoltat nas din seria vinurilor rosii, cu urme pronuntate de baric neintegrat si complexitate net inferioara celorlalte vinuri din Bordeaux. Un vin corpolent, cu arome primare de fructe negre si piper, chiar matasos in gura, dar fara a iesi in evidenta. Postgust mediu. (86-87/100)


O serie interesanta de vinuri, cu mentiunea ca servirea Syrah-ului la sfarsit a fost o eroare de organizare. Am crezut ca avem de a face cu un Syrah concentrat, care, servit la inceput, ar fi putut umbri Bordeaux-urile de dupa si rapi bucuria de a servi un vin cu corpolenta medie. Nu a fost cazul. Viata nu e perfecta.

Categories: Bordeaux, France, Israel

Visit at Leoville Poyferre in St-Julien

July 11, 2011 2 comments

My next visit for FRI, June 24th, was for 11:30 at Chateau Leoville Poyferre in Saint Julien. The Cuvelier family acquired this property in 1920, and together with Chateau Le Crock from Saint Estephe, both properties have been run by Didier Cuvelier since 1979. A new winery was built in the mid-1990s. A good deal of replanting was done, therefore the average age of the vines is around 20-30 years old. Mr Cuvelier has been trying to diminish the proportion of Merlot and replace it with Cabernet, looking to produce a structured, long lived wine. Michel Rolland consults on wine-making and blending since 1994.

The vineyards consist of a few large blocks of fine gravelly soil. The property lies on 80 ha and grows 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc producing around 380.000 bottles per vintage. There are three wines produced: Leoville Poyferre – the grand vin, aged for about 18-20 months in new French oak, Chateau Moulin Riche – from a separate property of 20 ha located 2 km on the way to Chateau Batailley with fairly young vines(the best lots enter the grand vin also, while unsatisfactory lots of LP go into Moulin Riche),  and Pavillon de Leoville Poyferre – the second wine. Both Moulin Riche and Pavillon de Leoville Poyferre are aged around 12 months in old and new French oak.

LP domain is the least impressive of all the other domains I visited in Bordeaux, as there is no imposing Chateau or large scale building – Leoville Poyferre also shares the  courtyard with Leoville Las Cases. However,the investments recently made in state of the art new equipment: new stainless steel tanks and an electronically sorting machine make Leoville Poyferre a leading property in St-Julien. The new stainless steel vats were used for the first time for the 2010 harvest and the new automatic sorting machine will be used starting with the 2011 harvest.

My guide was Mr Vianney de Tastesthe – the Quality Control Manager that used to work for a winery in Australia before joining LP, almost 2 years ago.

Mr Vianney de Tastes – my host at LP

I have to say that his presentation was one of the best and detailed I had in Bordeaux.

control panel with state of the art technology

touch screen monitor

In the control panel room, state of the art technology makes life easier. It is the first property I saw using a touch screen monitor to control all the stainless steel vats and all the operations employed in the wine-making process: fermentation, flow of the must and temperature.

In the tasting room, one wall was completely covered with texts written by different people that visited the property and tasted the wines during the en-primeurs campaign this year. Including Robert Parker that left his mark on the wall.

I tasted all the wines from the 2010 vintage, plus some other older vintages: Pavillon de Leoville Poyferre 2007, 2008, 2010, Chateau Le Crock 2010, 2009, 2005, Chateau Leoville Poyferre 2010, 2007, 2008, Chateau Moulin Riche 2010, 2009, 2006. The most interesting wines were the Leoville Poyferre 2010 and 2007 and Le Crock 2005.

The 2010 Leoville Poyferre is a blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc planned to be aged for about 18 months in small oak barrels. It already shows a tremendous balance and depth on the palate, with great complexity on the nose, and a long finish with good freshness. (96-98/100)

Even though 2007 was a difficult vintage in Bordeaux, the Leoville Poyferre 2007 is a seductive wine, with great Cabernet like flavors, well balanced and developed, mixing well the fruit with minerality and spiciness,while remaining fresh and long in the mouth. (92-94/100)

I liked a lot the 2005 Le Crock as it already started to develop complex aromas of truffles, mixed with good fruit, spice and tar, while remaining balanced, fresh and with good intensity. (89-90/100)

The 2010 Chateau Leoville Poyferre was released at 100 Eur/bottle ex-negociant and according to Liv-ex, the wine was a real success being heavily traded by merchants. My host also mentioned that, the day the price for 2010 was released, they sold their entire allocation of roughly 180.000 bottles within 3-4 hours totaling Eur 18 Millions. Talking about big business.

Both the 2009 and the 2010 Leoville Poyferre received very high scores: an almost perfect 98-100 points from the most important International wine critics, including Robert Parker. It is unquestionable the great development this property made over the last decade, constantly releasing top notch wines. I was impressed by the quality of the 2003 vintage I  had about 1 year ago and it does look to me that this domain is poised for greater success. A property mandatory to follow and an almost sure bet for a potential investment into a liquid asset.

Watch a video about Chateau Leoville Poyferre:

Categories: Bordeaux, France

Chateau Phelan Segur 2006 – Saint Estephe

July 9, 2011 1 comment

Bought the wine while in Bordeaux. Had it on FRI evening with turkey liver roasted with vegetables. The light bitterness of the liver found good corresponding flavors in this Saint Estephe.

2006 Chateau Phelan Segur – Saint Estephe

Dark ruby red colored. A classic Bordeaux nose, tight, developed, a lot of stinky-barnyard aromas mixed with light red fruit: red currant, plenty of coffee bean, black tea, cocoa, tobacco and smoke. This is not a wine for lovers of fruity aromas. Medium bodied, with assertive tannins, more red fruit on the palate than on the nose: red currant and cherry, nicely mixed with earth, tobacco and tar. A medium plus finish with pronounced black tea and coffee bean in the aftertaste. Charming bitterness and good grip on the finish. A classic Bordeaux with firm tannins, more mineral and earthy and less fruit. (88-89/100)

I have to admit that I liked more the Chateau Le Crock 2005 I had last week, as it had a better complexity(2005 was a stellar vintage in Bordeaux, while 2006 was not that great) and it was also cheaper than the Phelan Segur (23 Eur vs 30 Eur). However, both wines are very well made, with firm backbones and capable of aging well. It is hard to resist a classic Bordeaux that goes so well with food and I really started to enjoy more and more this type of wines.

Categories: Bordeaux, France

Visit at Chateau St-Pierre and Gloria in Saint Julien

July 6, 2011 2 comments

Chateau St-Pierre

My first visit for FRI, June 24th, was for 10:00 at Chateau Saint Pierre and Chateau Gloria in Saint Julien. Both properties have the same ownership. They are just across the street from each other, sharing the same winery.

Chateau St-Pierre dates back to the last seventeenth century. In 1767 the Baron de St-Pierre became the owner and the property known after his name. After his death in 1832, the property was divided between his two daughters. In 1920, a negociant reunited the properties, though the cellars were the property of a cooper called Alfred Martin. In 1981 his son Henri Martin bought the spacious chateau and its park, and then the following year succeeded in buying some of the vineyards and reconstituting the property by making exchanges with neighboring estates. So the vineyards of the actual St-Pierre are quite scattered. Despite Mr Martin’s patient reconstruction, the total size of the vineyards is only half what it was in 1855.

The wine making is the same as for Gloria. The vineyards are old, as the latest plantings were over 30 years ago. The harvest is manual, with sorting in the vineyard and again at the winery, and selected yeasts are used. Investments were made over the last two years and new stainless steel vats replaced the old equipment.

cement tanks

new stainless steel vats

monitoring the temperature

The wine is aged for about 12-14 months in 50% new French oak. Production is limited, and there is no second wine.

barrels under the festivities room

barrels in the cellar

There has been a serious step up in quality lately, clearly seen with the 2009 and 2010 vintage. The property has 17 ha and grows 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc.

Chateau Gloria was created from scratch from 1939 onwards. Henri Martin succeeded in buying parcels from many other properties and ended up with a dispersed estate, but one with exceptional soils. The age of the vines ranges from 30 to 80 years, with an average of around 45 years. The wine is aged for 12 months in up to 40% new oak. The property has about 44 ha and the grapes grown are 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. There is a second wine made too: Chateau Peymartin.

scattered vineyards at Chateau Gloria

In the upstairs main hall, where most festivities take place, there is a glassed floor with a nice view of the one cellar with barrels just underneath it.

stairs to the festivities hall

the festivities hall with the glassed floor

I tasted the 2010 vintage for both properties and, when compared, Gloria comes as an elegant wine, while St-Pierre as a more concentrated and powerful wine.

Chateau Gloria 2010 has a red ruby color, with aromas of fresh red fruits and spices, medium bodied, fragrant, with good acidity and a pleasant mouth-feel. A classy wine. (88-90/100)

Chateau St-Pierre 2010 has a dark red-purple color. It has more intense and complex aromas on the nose, powerful and more concentrated on the palate, a firm tannins backbone and a long finish. Very nice aromas and flavors of fresh red and dark fruits, spices, with a long finish. (90-92/100)

It might be that 2010 produced some of the best wines ever for both properties. Usually good prices also, and very reliable lately. Two properties to follow.

Categories: Bordeaux, France

Visit at Petrus in Pomerol

July 4, 2011 18 comments

After the visit and the lovely lunch I had at Cheval Blanc in Saint Emilion, the next visit for THU afternoon, on June 23rd, was at Petrus in Pomerol. This 11.5 ha property produces around 3000 cases, each vintage, of one of the most sought after wines in the world. The Petrus land is unique: a topsoil of blue tinged clay and a subsoil of gravel, the whole lying on Pomerol’s iron rich crasse de fer. The choice of grape varieties, and the extreme attention to detail, count for much also. 95% of the vineyard is planted with Merlot, and 5% with Cabernet Franc, yet the latter is often not included in the grand vin for want of maturity. Petrus is thus frequently a 100% Merlot wine. The average age of the vines is 40 years, where 30 or 35 is the norm.

The estate goes to extreme lengths to safeguard the quality of its fruit: in 1987, to counter the effect of rain at harvest time, a helicopter was hired to hover over the vines and dry them with its down wash. In 1992 plastic sheets were used to cover the ground and prevent the rains from infiltrating the soil.

Just as I arrived in time for the 17:00 appointment, I was about to have the biggest surprise ever. I tried to open the door to enter the courtyard but it was locked. A woman appeared from the office building in the courtyard, and, from a far distance, she loudly asked: “Vous etes les Roumains ?” I replied “Oui Madame“. I received the warmest welcome that anybody can only hope for. At Petrus. Talking about life being full of surprises.

The lady from Petrus has shown a genuine warmness and it was an extremely enjoyable host during the whole time we spent visiting the property. I found out that she was an American, living for over 20 years in Bordeaux and working at Petrus for 4 years now.

We walked on the perfectly ordered alley through  the Petrus vineyards, while my host was explaining details about the terroir, vines, grapes and gladly sharing all the information about this acclaimed property. The soil is just 80 cm deep before the blue clay starts. This clay provides water when there is not enough rain for the vines, and acts as a permeable layer when there is excessive rain. Therefore, the vines almost never suffer from drought.

Roses are planted at the beginning of each row of vines – a common thing I noticed everywhere in Bordeaux. The purpose  is to give warning signals about any potential diseases that might attack the vines. Usually the roses being more fragile are attacked the first ones, therefore these diseases can be prevented by humans prior to reaching the vines.

The vegetative cycle of the vines is more developed than usual, just as it is in the rest of Bordeaux, but the grapes look perfectly healthy. When you would think that the wines sell for hundreds and thousands of Eur per bottle, you would expect to see shiny brand new materials used in the vines and in the cellar. Aside from the new winery that is in the process of being built – just next to where the tasting room and the building hosting the cement tanks are – the work at Petrus is characterized by simplicity, and seems to be made exactly the same as it was 100 years ago. And still, the vines look perfectly aligned and healthy.

In the cellar, they use cement tanks for fermentation using indigenous yeasts(this was a big surprise for me) and then the wine is aged for about 12 months in 50% new French oak. According to our host, the aim is to let the terroir speak and not silence it with excessive use of new oak or prolonged barrel aging. We were not able to visit the barrel room due to the construction site.

the winery viewed from the vines

old fashioned cement tanks

Just like the rest of the property, the tasting room follows the same spartan design, but with excessive attention to detail.

The tasting room is a large chamber with a wooden table for the tasting in the middle and a cup filled with the famous blue clay in a corner to showcase the soil. Only a large format bottle wearing the famous Petrus label hints where you are. I wonder if this simplicity is not meant to liberate your senses as much as possible from anything that can disturb, so you could focus on what is important here: the wine.

We tasted the new Petrus 2010 vintage.

It is useless to say that nobody did spit the wine while tasting it. I am not sure if it was because of the high price it will sell for or was it because is just that good ?

2010 Petrus Pomerol

A deep dark red-purple almost opaque color. As young as it is, the wine explodes in the glass with very intense aromas of black fruit, stewed plum, very well integrated oak; floral and elegant. There is incredible depth on the palate, with silky tannins, dense, a perfect balance between elegance and power, having even a spicy, meaty flavor. The finish is very long, keeping the same line of elegance, power and freshness. (95-97/100)

a nice view of the courtyard from the tasting room

I left Petrus happy that I was able to taste such a famous wine coming from the acclaimed 2010 vintage, a wine rated almost a perfect 98-100 points by most important International wine critics. I just hope I will have the opportunity to taste this wine again in the future.

view in the courtyard

the construction site for the new winery

It is good I did not have any other visits arranged after Petrus for THU, as I am sure I would have been biased tasting any other wines.

P.S. By the time I wrote this article, Petrus still did not release the en-primeur price for its 2010.

Categories: Bordeaux, France
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