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Live from BDX: Home of the Graves

On the second day of the quest for 2010 bordeaux, we all headed over to taste the wines of Graves. This is an area south of the city of Bordeaux where they produce very nice dry white wines (made from sauvignon blanc and sémillon) which are not all that well known outside of France. And dry red wines (mainly from merlot and cabernet franc) that are even less well known—except of course, for Château Haut-Brion whose reds have had a following since the time of Samuel Pepys.
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2003 Château La Mission Haut-Brion

One of the younger 2003 Bordeaux tried in the last few months, this Graves neighbor of first-growth Chateau Haut-Brion, under the same ownership since 1983, might be one of the few 03s to keep the promise of long life expected when they were barrel-sampled and upon initial release. Tannins are still quite firm and drying. Acidity is present, too, enough to counter-balance the tannins; more time in the cellar will let everything settle down and knit together. The flavors open with blackcurrant and violets, moving next to licorice and eucalyptus, with bare hints of chocolate on the finish. The mix might have a bit of Cabernet Franc, as there is also an undercurrent of tobacco leaf in the initial attack. Finish lingers for well over thirty seconds. Drink with Black Truffle Tenderloin Steak Tartare at Bern's Steak House. Ask for Owen as a server, and tell him we sent you.
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Palate Press Wine of the Week – 1997 Château Haut-Brion

Tasted with 1997 Cheval Blanc, Château Margaux, and Mouton-Rothschild, the Haut-Brion clearly stood out as the most balanced and complex of this fine lot. Minerality was remarkable. Wet gravel and scorched earth formed the base for red currant, sweet wood, and smoked meat flavors. Tobacco and mint added counterpoints to the mild fruit flavors, clearly giving way to the secondary flavors of a mature Bordeaux. This is ready now and in this down ‘97 vintage unlikely to improve with additional age. If you are in New York, take it to Keen's, order the Mutton Chop, and pay the corkage fee. Don't forget to offer a taste to your waiter (and the envious wine steward).
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1997 Château Haut-Brion – Graves AOC, France

Tasted with 1997 Cheval Blanc, Château Margaux, and Mouton-Rothschild, the Haut-Brion clearly stood out as the most balanced and complex of this fine lot. Minerality was remarkable. Wet gravel and scorched earth formed the base for red currant, sweet wood, and smoked meat flavors. Tobacco and mint added counterpoints to the mild fruit flavors, clearly giving way to the secondary flavors of a mature Bordeaux. This is ready now and in this down ‘97 vintage unlikely to improve with additional age. If you are in New York, take it to Keen's, order the Mutton Chop, and pay the corkage fee. Don't forget to offer a taste to your waiter (and the envious wine steward).