Traveling 54 Years in One Evening with Two Wines

A duo of bottles serving as bookends to a media event sponsored by Barton & Guestier  practically told the story of French wine, how the industry has developed, and how tastes have evolved. Yep, over five decades of change distilled (fermented, rather) into one short, yet memorable, evening.

Let’s start from the end, which is the beginning.

The final wine served was a 1964 Château Léoville Barton, out of magnum (!) no less. Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of old wines. A lot of times they are just…dead. And you’re around a bunch of fawning wine people pretending that it’s profound when it’s bad vinegar. Just admit it’s bunk and open up a cold beer, ok? (End rant.)

But sometimes, a well-aged wine defies logic, history, and the march of time. This Léoville Barton was one of those bottles.

Here’s my hyperbolic take while drinking my slight, yet profound, pour:

Forest floor. Like you’re on a quiet hike in an old-growth forest at dawn. The sun pokes through and casts church-like rays of light both misty and mystical.

The ground is soft, so you lay down and it embraces you like a cool hug. You have a ripe, red berry in your pocket and you pop it in your mouth and let it dissolve. 

A bird chirps and a friendly squirrel climes onto your shoe like you’re Snow White.

Barton & Guestier can trace its beginnings back to 1725, when Thomas Barton left Ireland to try his hand in the wine business in Bordeaux. Later on, Daniel Guestier joined up with Thomas’ grandson, Hugh. This association became formalized in 1802 with the creation of  Barton-Guestier Wine Merchants. The acquisition of the vineyards that would become Leoville Barton happened two decades later. (The property is still in the hands of the Barton family today.)

Now let’s fast-forward two hundred years. 

Barton & Guestier: Back to the Future

Traveling 54 Years in One Evening with Two WinesOur welcome wine was the 2018 Côtes de Provence Rosé, a wine so pale I asked if it was a white wine. The thing that struck me the most about this wine, besides it’s quaffable nature, was the bottle shape.

Its elongated neck and curved base are totally unique. It’s like a teardrop-shaped wine amulet, which shouldn’t be surprising once you find out the bottle was inspired by the pink Tourmaline stone. Which, if you are into crystals, is a stone purportedly all about “love and spirituality, encouraging compassion and gentleness during periods of growth and changes as humanity works toward enlightenment.” That’s above and beyond what this wine (or any wine/beverage) delivers, but I will say that a glass of it (and the sight of the bottle) does encourage a pacific nature, delivered from the other side of the Atlantic.

I’m also a big fan of the closure, the glass Vinlok. It’s also pink, which is a nice touch. More elegant than a screw cap, it’s also nice because you can lay an open bottle on its side in your fridge. I don’t see why more producers of drink-now wines aren’t using it; perhaps it’s a cost issue.

Barton & Guestier: Past and Present, Side-by-Side

Looking back my photos, I was most struck by seeing the 2018 rosé next to the 1964 Bordeaux. I’m guessing back then when you thought of French (still) wine, BDX was king/queen/one to rule them all. And I’m sure that opinion, particularly among wine connoisseurs/collectors held true for decades after that.

But in 2019, I bet if you asked most wine drinkers what they think of when they think of French wine, it’s rosé from Provence. The extent to which it has taken over the seasonal wine market is astonishing. Of course, this overshadows Bordeaux, a region make a TON of fantastic, well-priced whites and rosé for summer drinking. (I am particularly fond of Bordeaux Clairet, a deeper, richer style of rosé perfect for those who rarely stray from red.)

It seemed appropriate that the tasting was held at Dear Irving, a new outpost of the stylish cocktail bar at the top of the Aliz hotel. As I gazed out the window, there was an unmissable landmark of a bygone era. The old McGraw-Hill building, an Art Deco gem.

Traveling 54 Years in One Evening with Two Wines

Will there ever be another building like it? How long will it last? What state is it in? The parallels to the 1964 Bordeaux were obvious.

How strange it was to view this solitary icon from a location embodying New York in 2019, drinking the most modern, the most “now” of wines.

Enjoy everything you can while it lasts.

Note: I wrote this post as part of a contest sponsored by B&G:

Share the love for B&G by publishing an article, blog post or social media feature for a chance to win a stay at Château Magnol, Barton & Guestier’s Food and Wine Academy. The winner will be selected on July 31, 2019 and will be announced on @bartonguestier_france social media channels. All entries will be judged by Barton & Guestier’s team for authenticity, creativity and exceptional work in capturing the essence of the brand.

The post Traveling 54 Years in One Evening with Two Wines appeared first on Jameson Fink.

2 Legit 2 Quit (The Revitalization of Château Pédesclaux)

Ah, good old, dependable Château Pédesclaux.

Well, for those in the know when it comes to Bordeaux, this Pauillac producer was dependable for decades… in that one could usually depend on it to under-perform.

Established back in 1810 by the wine broker who gave it its name (Pierre Urbain Pédesclaux), Pédesclaux rose to prominence rather quickly by Bordeaux standards, being classified as Fifth Growth in 1855. The 20th Century saw successions of ownership and neglect; at one point in the 1950s, the estate was tagged for demolition.

In 2009, Pédesclaux was picked up by Françoise and Jacky Lorenzetti (owners of Chateau Lilian Ladouys), who, according to current manager Vincent Bache-Gabrielsen (with whom, through the miracles of modern technology, I had a nice remote online chat) set about to “legitimize” the estate. This started with the vineyards, which were replanted, reworked, expanded, and eventually given a treatment so detailed that they are now classified into nineteen different terroirs (ranging from gravel to limestone to clay), vinified into 116 different tank fermentations, and aged in barrels from nine different coopers, all to make about 270,000 bottles of just two wine labels.

The aim now is to surprise with a bit of over-performance, even at the $50/bottle price tag. Bache-Gabrielsen put it this way: “The idea is to have freshness, tannins that are just mature, and to make you salivate and want another glass.” Pédesclaux now puts a borderline-obsessive amount of effort into their Grand Vin’s texture. “We want precision in our tannins,” Bache-Gabrielsen explained. He describes their harvest as “al dente” (now my new favorite term for picking ripeness).

The result? Pretty damned nice…

2014 Chateau Pedesclaux (Pauillac, $50)

2 Legit 2 Quit (The Revitalization of Château Pédesclaux)

The first vintage of Pédesclaux from their new, ultra-modern winemaking facility was a high-pressure one for Bache-Gabrielsen: “It was a late-ripening vintage, it gave us a lot of complexity; we had to prove our potential.” If making a statement was their aim, they thoroughly succeeded with the 2014, which is a salvo of budget-minded Bordeaux loveliness fired across the bow of neighboring Pauillac properties costing a crap-ton of a lot more per bottle. 53 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 47 percent Merlot, and 100 percent complete; particularly on the palate, where this red has absolutely zero dead spots. Violets, minerals, dried herbs, cedar, black currants, plums, black olives, tobacco… it’s all textbook, it’s all here, and it’s all in a balanced, taught, powerful, gorgeous package that ought to still be sitting pretty a decade from now.

2015 Chateau Pedesclaux (Pauillac, $50)

2 Legit 2 Quit (The Revitalization of Château Pédesclaux)

This vintage sees a smidgen of Petit Verdot added to the mix, with the going-in plan being adding power while “keeping the finesse and elegance of 2014.” This vintage certainly feels more modern, and chewier all around, than the previous year’s release. The mouthfeel adds a bit more silk, without losing a sense of structure or lacking freshness. Compared with their 2014 benchmark, the 2015’s dusty tannins are more linear, the dark fruit more extracted, and the crafting and experimentation more evident.

2016 Chateau Pedesclaux (Pauillac, $50)

2 Legit 2 Quit (The Revitalization of Château Pédesclaux)

2016 was the first vintage of Vincent Bache-Gabrielsen’s tenure in which crush was utilized, in an effort to shorten the skin contact, and softening the extraction in what he termed the chateau’s “target style.” A small amount of Cabernet Franc sees an entrance here, as does some Austrian oak, and the result is more spice and herb action on the nose to compliment the minerals, plums, and violets. Blonde tobacco, black currants, and an overarching sense of elegance are in play, too. Where 2014 had something to prove, and 2015 had muscles to flex, 2016 has intellectual depth – it’s young, taught, and finessed, with fantastic length. If this wine is any indication, Pédesclaux’s resurrection is damned near complete.

Cheers!

Grab The 1WineDude.com Tasting Guide and start getting more out of every glass of wine today!

Shop Wine Products at Amazon.com

Copyright © 2016. Originally at 2 Legit 2 Quit (The Revitalization of Château Pédesclaux) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Drink More White Bordeaux (Please)

I gotta take my own dang advice. I’m complicit, too, in spacing on these killer wines. How long has it been since I had a back-to-back salvo of white Bordeaux? It’s tough enough to get anyone to drink red BDX let alone white. One of my all-time favorite wines happens to be a white BDX: Chateau Carbonnieux. It ages well, is rich, regal, and distinctive. I have fond memories of drinking it at Le Caviste in Seattle.

Pont de Pierre in the city of Bordeaux / Photo by David McKelvey via Flickr

So when I serendipitously acquired two samples, I thought it time to wave the flag for a very good wine indeed.

White Bordeaux is going to be pretty much a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. I love these blends. (They are also particularly good in Australia’s Margaret River, where the wines are calls “SBS” because Aussies love to abbreviate things.) Sauv Blanc is zesty laser, and Semillon provides a rich roundness.

What I like about both bottles I drank is they have a good chunk o’ Semillon. One spends time in oak. WHICH IS GOOD. So let’s get to it.

A White Bordeaux Duo

Clos Floridene Graves 2013 ($30)

This is a blend of 56% Sauvignon Blanc, 43% Semillon, and 1% Muscadelle. See, this is why above I said white Bordeaux is “pretty much” a SBS blend because some clown would mention sometimes there’s Muscadelle, blah blah blah. Said individual would probably sport a corresponding profile pic: nose deep-crammed in wine glass, eyes closed in chaste, faux bro ecstasy.

Anyway…

With five years in the bottle the oak steps back into a chilled-out, Oscar-worthy supporting role. The color of the wine has golden-ized a bit. Info on the winery’s website opines it could last a decade or more and I agree. Also Graves is a region and a very good one for white (and red) BDX.

I have no problem with this wine being $30. Though why would I, when I got the darn bottle for free? My point is if I spend $30 on this at a wine shop, I would feel it was money well spent. Also, newer vintages are closer to $20 so I’d buy like a sixer or a case and drink one every six months/year to see how it develops. That’s how we have CRAZY FUN with wine! BUCKLE UP, PARTY PEOPLE!!!

Légende Bordeaux Blanc 2017 ($18)

Drink More White Bordeaux (Please)This white Bordeaux is quite distinguished, coming from the Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite). 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon, and (YES) 10% Sauvignon Gris comprise the wine’s makeup.

Confession: I actually thought this wine was oaked when I first tasted it. (Shows you what I know.) The Légende sent a butterscotch whiff wafting. Whoa. But after getting a touch of air, it chilled out into a lively, steely wine. Zest with a touch of plump. Racy freshness, especially in contrast to the more demure 2013.

If your only experience with Sauv Blanc is from New Zealand and you find it too over-the-top, a White Bordeaux like the Légende may change your mind about what the grape can do (for you). Especially when paired with Semillon.

Not sure it would develop like the Clos Floridene, nor is it supposed to be a wine like that, but I bet a year in the bottle would make this a champ.

But who cellars wine anymore? It’s a drink-now world. So don’t fret if you pick up a bottle THIS INSTANT.

This is actually a wine I would recommend decanting. Yes, a sub-$20 white wine. DO IT. You don’t need some fancy AF decanter that’s impossible to clean, either. A glass pitcher with do. If you don’t have a sufficient receptacle, open it like a half hour before you start drinking it.

It’s OK to treat an 18 dollar wine like royalty. Especially considering its pedigree.

_____

Both of these bottles would be very good cheese wines. Frankly, white wines are more versatile (aka BETTER) with cheese than reds. The Clos Floridene with more mature, richer and/or harder cheese. Freshy-fresh goat cheeses and softer ones would be in the Légende’s wheelhouse.

There’a also plenty of good white Bordeaux in the $10-15 range. (Praise!) They offer a lot of bang for the buck. So go forth and buy buy buy!

The post Drink More White Bordeaux (Please) appeared first on Jameson Fink.

Wine of the Day – Château Mayne-Vieil cuvée Alienor Fronsac ’15

Chateau Mayne Vieil is a single vineyard (47 hectars) in Fronsac on a hill of clay loam with a moderate slope at an altitude of nearly 40 meters. The vineyard is planted with 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. The village of Fronsac lies due north of Pomerol about 15 minutes from the famous chateaus of Le Pin and Cheval Blanc.


Mayne-Vieil is not some newcomer from 1500 to 1809 Mayne-Vieil belonged to the DePaty family. The squire DePaty, Lord of Mayne-Vieil, built the winery in the 17th century. It was eventually replaced in the 18th century by the fortified house with an elegant chartreuse that currently stands on the grounds today.

Wine of the Day – Château Mayne-Vieil cuvée Alienor Fronsac ’15
Mayne-Vieil was then purchased by the Fontemoing family; a group of renowned vintners from Libourne. In 1918, Louis SEZE acquired the property. His son Roger, an agronomist who succeeded him in the early 1950’s, expanded the vineyards to make a contiguous and beautiful plateau. His children Bertrand and Marie-Christine Sèze succeeded Roger SEZE in the 1980’s.

Wine of the Day – Château Mayne-Vieil cuvée Alienor Fronsac ’15Château Mayne-Vieil cuvée Alienor Fronsac ’15 $14.99 btl / save $10
“Château Mayne-Vieil Cuvée Alienor is a selection of old Merlot vines. This is the luxury cuvée from vineyards in the Seze family since 1918. With its perfumed fruits and firm tannins, it is serious as well as sumptuous. It has weight and a dry texture that will soften into the blackberry fruits and generous structure. This wine, with its still firm texture, needs to age, so drink from 2022.” 
93 pts Wine Enthusiast

This wine shows tremendous density and character. Although drinkable now this wine has the potential to lay down for years and at this price you can afford to buy a case to lay down. I find this wine utterly charming, if you have more questions – Arnie has actually visited the property and knows first hand the quality of this wine and the property.  

“They were delicious, more for drinking then collecting I thought, although the Cuvée Alienor is a big serious wine that is 100% Merlot. At our dinner, Bertrand brought out two old bottles. They were still excellent and we were stunned to learn one was from 1949 and the other from 1959. Incredible. ” Arnie Millan

Check out Arnie’s notes here

Give us a call if you would like us  set you aside some. 

Cheers!  lenny@esquin.comWine of the Day – Château Mayne-Vieil cuvée Alienor Fronsac ’15

The post Wine of the Day – Château Mayne-Vieil cuvée Alienor Fronsac ’15 appeared first on Madewine's Sippy Cup - Blog.

Chateau Cantelaudette Bordeaux is a Merlot Showcase

One of the many nice things about going to free tastings at wine shops is getting to try something you normally might not come across. Like a Bordeaux with a ubiquitous, old-school label on it. Enter the Chateau Cantelaudette.

It was being poured at Dandelion Wine and I ended up taking a bottle home. Why?

2014 Chateau Cantelaudette Graves de Vayres Cuvée Prestige

It’s 100% Merlot and if you’re turned off by that grape, the nice thing (in a strange way) is that it doesn’t say “MERLOT” on the label. So if you have an open bottle lying around you can just tell people to “try this great Bordeaux I got for under 20 bucks.” (‘Twas $19 at Dandy.)

It’s aged half in neutral oak (not like Swiss neutrality, but rather vessels used enough that they don’t impart oaky flavor) and half in stainless steel. Based on this, the Chateau Cantelaudette is a perfect medium-bodied wine. A nice combo of fresh fruit and some stately mannerisms in the glass.

The wine is imported by Polaner Selections, located in Mount Kisco, New York. (This is where The Thuse had its HQ when I started there, BTW.) I kind of like the company’s all-caps motto/call-to-action on the back of the label: OPEN YOUR MIND AND TASTE. Pretty good advice, especially if you have preconceived notions about a wine, a region, a producer, or a grape.

The post Chateau Cantelaudette Bordeaux is a Merlot Showcase appeared first on Jameson Fink.

Loving Grana Padano

You're at the store with two pieces of cheese in your hand. They are equal in size. They are the same price. One is Grana Pandano the other is Parmigiano Reggiano.

You'd buy the Parmigiano right? The king of cheeses, why not go for the best? But think for a second. These two pieces of cheese are the same price. That means you're probably getting top-of-the-line Grana Pandano, while the Parmigiano is almost certainly mass produced and on the lower end of the Parmigiano spectrum. Do you want to pay for the name or the cheese?

You're at the store with two bottles of wine in your hand. They are equal in size. They are the same price. One is cabernet sauvignon the other is syrah.

You'd buy the cabernet right? The king of wines, why not go for the best? But think for a second. These two bottles of wine are the same price. That means you're probably getting top-of-the-line syrah, while the cabernet is almost certainly mass produced and on the lower end of the cabernet spectrum. Do you want to pay for the name or the wine?

Grana Pandano and Parmigiano Reggiano are the same type of cheese. While at its pinnacle many connoisseurs consider Parmigiano the ultimate expression of this style of chesse, there are many passionate producers and consumers of Grana Pandano that would take exception with their position.

One thing I've learned is that dollar-for-dollar you get better value for Grana than you do with the more famous Parmigiano. Often it's a far better choice to buy the most expensive product with a less famous name than the lowest price product with a more exalted name.

I apply the same strategy to buying wine. If I have $30 to spend cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and chardonnay don't even enter my mind. My thoughts go to gamay, syrah, tempranillo, aglianico, vermentino, chenin blanc and on and on. Today it seems the choices are limitless.

Like the Reggiano cheese place name, many wine appellations get bonus points for name recognition that spot them extra dollars on each bottle over their competitors. When you buy wine from a famous place name you pay a premium for that privilege. Is it worth it? Sometimes yes. There are experiences you can get from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo and Napa that are truly sublime. But with the $30 I want to spend, sublime will not be found in those appellations. You can find extraordinary wine experiences on a budget if you're willing to go beyond these famous place-names. Think El Dorado, Mendocino, Rogue, Sablet, Madiran, Languedoc, Corsica, Sardegna, our own Applegate Valley and, as with the varieties, the options go on and on.

Never in the history of wine has it been easier to drink great wines without spending a fortune. Next time you're in a wine shop hold that bottle of cabernet in one hand and a different wine from a place or variety you don't know in the other and ask yourself what you want to pay for - the name or the wine?

That *Other* Antidote To Bordeaux-Bashing

As reported by Dr. Vino (and elsewhere), much-celebrated (and almost-as-often-maligned) consultant winemaker Michel Rolland was recently asked if there was an antidote to “Bordeaux-bashing” (i.e., a backlash against the Bordeaux region in general – and its most storied houses, in particular – for producing wines that are increasingly too similar and increasingly too expensive).

You can read Rolland’s response in the original French, if that’s your motif; I offer the following English translation (as supplied automatically via Google):

“There is no antidote to stupidity. It is increasingly monumental. For me, 2015 is a great vintage. There are [those] too stupid to notice. We will notice in ten years, as usual. We are in a world without balls, we live with no balls. Full stop. There is not a journalist [who] will notice. Anyway, there is not a journalist who has weight in the world today. It has nothing to do with the market. They can say, write and think what they want, everyone cares at the fortieth year! When they know that, maybe they will start to become humble. Not to become smart, because it will be difficult, but to think differently.”

In other words, it’s nor Bordeaux that is wrong, it’s all of the journalists covering Bordeaux that are wrong.

Hmmm.  Well.

Let’s discuss this little Rolland rant in a bot more detail…

First, I will take the sure-to-be-flamed stance that Rolland is partially correct. Journalists covering wine do, in fact, get Bordeaux vintage calls wrong. That kind of goes with the territory of making calls on subjective products based on limited information (which is why I think that broad-based vintage calls are of extremely limited utility).

But if we define Bordeaux-bashing as pointing out that the region’s top-shelf reds seem to be offering increasingly homogeneous taste profiles and have opted for the greedy route in terms of pricing (thanks to Asian demand), then I think the logical sand on which Rolland’s rant is partially built starts to erode pretty quickly.

You can’t argue with the numbers: as of the time of this writing, the average price for a bottle of 2010 Chateau Margaux in the U.S. was $1,104. I’m not going out on a limb here by saying that price is a bit outside of the affordability range of 99% of Americans. Most of Bordeaux’s top producers have way too many dollar signs in their eyeballs versus the quality of their wines. Yes, some of the wines are sublime, I’m just not sure that the ones I have tasted are worth a mortgage payment.

Bordeaux, as a red blend benchmark, isn’t going away anytime soon, and there are a dozen solid reasons for that. But its top-shelf producers cannot price their wines the way that they are and not expect the vox populi to call bullshit (as is their right), or journalists to call bullshit (as is their job). Doing so is trying to spit out of both sides of one’s mouth, so to speak.

Now, the Bordeaux region makes a shit-ton of wine, and not all of it can be top-tier, or even good. So I feel for the area’s excellent affordable wines (and god knows that there are several of them); they are probably taking it on the chin, unfairly, for the sins of their overpriced neighbors on both sides of the pricing spectrum.

But they’re not taking it on the chin because of the sins of journalists, Michel. Sorry, I gotta call bullshit on that.

As for lining up to defend Bordeaux’s tippy-top, ultra-expensive tier producers against coverage that they are too expensive? I suspect that the length of that line will be inversely proportional to the number of digits they demand per bottle.

Cheers!

Grab The 1WineDude.com Tasting Guide and start getting more out of every glass of wine today!

Shop Wine Products at Amazon.com

Copyright © 2015. Originally at That *Other* Antidote To Bordeaux-Bashing from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Michel Rolland rants about the post-Parker world

Michel Rolland, the consultant wine maker based in Pomerol, really likes the 2015 Bordeaux vintage, which is currently being shown off en primeur in Bordeaux. When a journalist asked him if the vintage was an antidote to “Bordeaux bashing” it set him off. Here is his rant (my translation):

“There’s no antidote for stupidity. And it’s reaching monumental proportions. For me, 2015 is a superlative vintage. There are too many assholes to even see it. They realize it 10 years later, as usual. We’re in a world without balls, we live without balls. Full stop. There isn’t a journalist who would notice. Anyway, there isn’t a wine writer with enough weight in the world today. Wine writers are totally indifferent. This has nothing to do with the market. They talk, write and think as they wish [today] and nobody will give a flying fig in 2040! When they know that, they will start to become humble. Not become intelligent, mind you, because that would be difficult, but reasonably different.”

In related news, Robert Parker stopped reviewing Bordeaux futures last year.

The post Michel Rolland rants about the post-Parker world appeared first on Dr Vino's wine blog.