Tasting 2009 and 2010 Bordeaux
When it comes to Bordeaux wines, no shop or store comes even remotely close to the depth chart of Wine Story here in the Philippines and perhaps the rest of Asia. Wine Story is the luxury wine specialty store chain of “niche-marketer par excellence” Romy Sia (of the Healthy Options fame). Now on its fifth year and with three branches to boot with Rockwell and Serendra branches added to the flagship store in Shangri-La Mall, Mandaluyong, Wine Story continues to flabbergast even the most discerning wine lovers with its evolving selection. So when it came to Bordeaux’s much publicized consecutive 2009 and 2010 vintages, it was moot and academic to see Wine Story carry an unparalleled portfolio to showcase these two amazing vintages. Bordeaux’s 2009 and 2010 vintages have been likened to the previous dynamic duo performance of the 1989 and 1990 vintages – these are some of the most expensive and prestigious aged Bordeaux money can buy at the moment.
Bordeaux is arguably the most renowned wine region in the world. With over 120,000 hectares dedicated to vines, it is easily one of the world’s largest wine regions, and certainly the biggest in all of France. Bordeaux alone has 54 designated wine regions or what is called the Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOCs). These 54 AOCs are already equivalent to almost 80 percent of the entire wine regions or Denominación de Origen (DOs) of neighboring Spain. The very specific AOCs in Bordeaux make for interesting taste profiles as the big distinction of the Merlot dominated right bank wines and those of Cabernet Sauvignon dominated left bank wines (as separated by the Gironde River) is just one of many aspects contained in the French relentless view of “terroir.”
Terroir is a French term with no direct translation to English, but it means the unique microenvironment of the vineyard that covers soil, temperature, weather, altitude, grape varietal adaptability, and all encompassing elements that are tied to the wine region. Of the 54 AOCs, including the huge, more generic Bordeaux, Bordeaux Superieur and Côtes de Bordeaux, there are a dozen or so very sought after wine regions. These regions include all the Medoc AOCs (from Saint Estephe to Haut-Medoc), Pessac-Leognan, Saint Emilion and Pomerol.
I was among the few lucky ones invited to try 16 handpicked wines from Bordeaux’s 2009 and 2010 vintages in a recent Wine Story’s Vintage Tasting series. The wines even come from some of my favorite Bordeaux AOCs. The retail prices of the Bordeaux offered for tasting are quite reasonable, ranging from P2,500.00/bottle to just a shade over P5,000.00/bottle. Below are my customary tasting notes.
From the 2009 vintage
1. Chateau Gloria, Saint Julien – this label is among the more fortunate non-1855 classified Medoc wines that does well commercially; “meaty, minty, a lot of animal flavors on the nose, quite complex, still young, leathery and dried berries in the mid palate, nice black truffles in the end.”
2. Chateau Cantemerle, Haut-Medoc – is a 5th growth in the amended 1855 Medoc classification (instated a year after in 1856); “licorice, black pepper, gun flint, tart cherry on the taste, but lighter in body, crusty pie on the finish”
3. Goulee, Medoc – is the 3rd wine from 2nd growth Chateau Cos d’Estournel; “forest-like nose, lamb, dry basil leaves, grassy, sour cherry on the mouth, lovely texture, good acid background, fresh, and long-lingering on the finish”
4. Chateau Fontenil, Fronsac – is from the most recognized oenologist consultant in the planet, Michel Rolland and his wife Dany; “black currant, anise seed, capsicum, very bright racy fruits, nice bitter-sweet tannins and a charcoaled-like finish”
5. Chateau Les Gravieres, Saint Emilion – is a Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe label; “inky, grassy, leathery, soft on the palate but with fowl-like notes, flinty finish”
6. Segla, Margaux – the 2nd wine of 2nd growth Chateau Rauzan-Segla; “mocha, coffee- latte, black currant, charcoaled taste on mid-palate, long and complex on the finish”
7. Chateau Cambon La Pelouse, Haut-Medoc – is a “Cru Bourgeois” wine; “herbal, leathery, fresh cherries, but a bit tarty on the palate and finish”
8. Chateau Prieure Lichine, Margaux – is a 4th growth in the 1855 Medoc classification; “bramble, stony, flambé berries, intense flavors, luscious on the finish”
From the 2010 vintage
1. Clos Canon, Saint Emilion – this is the 2nd wine of Chateau Canon, a Saint Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe B; “warm pie, crusty, bramble, lovely alluring nose, supple texture, mocha and black currant flavor at the end”
2. Chateau Fombrauge, Saint Emilion – this label has been owned by big Bordeaux house Bernard Magrez since 1999 and is a Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe label; “very fresh and racy, cassis, earthy, black currant, a more elegant style with softer approachable tannins”
3. Chateau La Dominique, Saint Emilion – a wine that got assistance from the “garagiste” movement pioneer Jean-Luc Thunevin of Chateau Valandraud; “very racy, full-flavored, violets, anise, peppercorn, very deep nose, supple texture, fresh coffee bean taste, with long lingering finish”
4. Chateau Nenin, Pomerol – this label is owned by Jean-Hubert Delon of 2nd growth Chateau Léoville Las Cases; “farm nose, lamb, hay, black pepper, gun flint, floral, supple entry, but tannins quite thin, smokey on the finish”’
5. Fleur de Clinet, Pomerol – this is the 2nd wine of a Pomerol legend, Chateau Clinet; “charcoaled, coffee latte, licorice, peppery, soft and delectable tannins, sumptuous on the finish”
6. Chateau Les Cruzelles, Lalande de Pomerol – owned by Denis Durantou, same owner of Chateau L’Eglise Clinet in Pomerol; “over-ripe berries, prunes, mushroomy, violets, dark burned taste, long cinnamon bark finish”
7. La Parde de Haut Bailly, Pessac-Leognan – the 2nd wine from Chateau Haut Bailly, a Premier Cru Pessac-Leognan; “minerally, inky, leathery, still quite young with more pronounced acids, spicy at the end”
8. Chateau d’Aiguilhe, Cotes de Castillon – is owned by Stephane von Neipperg of La Mondotte and Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere – both Saint Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe B; “cinnamon bark, mushroomy, inky, acid a bit higher than usual, and peppery at the end”
The wines tasted may probably not be indicative of the quality of these two vintages when pitted against each other, as no single label in the list was tasted vertically (for both vintages). And for the 2010 vintage, seven of the eight wines tasted were all from the right bank. This is rather a taste of the quality of the different labels, notably 2nd wines from some of the most powerful Chateaux names from two astounding vintages. With so many labels to choose from and so many AOCs for variations, how can anyone therefore say that Bordeaux wines are tiring? That is sacrilegious!
For more Bordeaux wines to choose from, please visit Wine Story at Shangri-La Mall Mandaluyong, Serendra Fort Bonifacio, and One-Rockwell, Rockwell Center Makati.
For comments, inquiries, wine event coverage and other wine related concerns, please e-mail me at [email protected] I am a proud member of the Federation Internationale des Journalists et Ecrivains du Vin et des Spiritueux or FIJEV since 2010. You can also follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/sherwinlao.