On that next to last day of the week, we eased into the tasting with some lovely wines from the middle of the Médoc region, a fairly long, narrow rustic peninsula just north of Bordeaux, where small farms are interspersed with vineyards and very small villages.
Before we began the day with our formal tasting, we all trooped over to Château Cheval Blanc. It was, as usual, a media circus with the top wine critics from around the world shooting interviews with each other and with dapper, sophisticated winery manager Pierre Lurton -- who we would later also see at the Château d’Yquem tasting – the other property he manages.
Becky Sue Epstein is back in Bordeaux, for the annual en primeur tastings. Before the Union des Grands Crus tastings started on Monday, she put in a hefty amount of time amongst the other red wines of Bordeaux. Here’s what she learned in her first 24 hours on the ground.
An elegant offering from Washington’s Columbia Valley. Alcohol on the nose (14.5%) initially obscures the lovely treats underneath of cedar, anise, and fresh leather. Crisp on the palate, soft tannins, and expressive flavors of dark cherry and blackcurrant. At first it seems to finish short, but comes around in short order. A slow starter out of the gate, but a winner by many lengths. A great steak wine. Highly recommended.
Sweet white- 80% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc, aged in 33% new oak for 18 months. Very high fruit and bright acids, with sweet stone fruits, peach, nectarine, and sweet pink grapefruit. Quite young, this will settle down with cellar time into something lovely. Highly recommended.
One always wonders if a wine of this age has anything left to impart. This does. Good high neck fill on the bottle. Lively dark brick color but still nice hues. Leathery, snuff-box, and dried black cherries on the nose unfold in the nose. In the glass and on the palate, whispers of spice like turmeric and black cloves. The fruit is like an aging dowager of faded glory but still a residue of charm left. Finishes surprisingly long. Of some historic interest as it was made before the original family sold the property to a Japanese concern in 1987. In keeping with the wine itself, should be drunk while watching the fading twilight of the day.