Archive for ‘Bordeaux’

February 28, 2020

Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes, 2009

Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes, 2009

From the cellar: No thesaurus has the language to describe this luscious dessert sipper: Stupendous.  Ludicrously good.  Layer upon layer upon layer of flavours.  Ethereal; the proverbial nectar from the gods.  Can you hear my lips smacking?

 

The palate is a veritable wine fractal: Peach.  Apple. Pear. Almond.  Some cedar shavings.  Tangerine.  That might be the half of it.  The depth is absolutely astounding.  Sweet, sweet, but not cloying.  How is that possible?

 

Guess what? The French state owns the vineyard.  If this wine is what it means to elect Bernie Sanders, bring it on.

 

[A pointster first and foremost: Wine Advocate 93.  Wine Enthusiast 95.  Tim Atkin 95.  And 96 from James “nothing under 90 points” Suckling.]

 

Price: Back when the Canadian dollar was actually worth something, we scored this in Seattle for just over $16 USD.  The 2015 is available in Vancouver for nearly $50 CDN.  That’s $100 a bottle.  That’s also astounding and ludicrous.

 

Market Liquidity: As intriguing and appealing as those beautifully pixelated Chuck Close masterpieces.

December 20, 2019

Clarendelle Rouge, 2015

Clarendelle Rouge, 2015

Wow.  What a dud.  Thwunk, pocket’s $40 lighter.

 

When it comes to the elite reviewers, those who score bottle space, James Suckling is probably least to our palate.  He is fast and easy with points, often to deception.  I call him the Peter Travers of wine reviewers (meaning seeing his name on the bottle appears to weigh more heavily than constraint on the pointster front).

 

Let’s be clear: This is “inspired” by Haut-Brion.  It is not the real McCoy.  I would say the 3.5 stars over on Wine Searcher are just about right; it’s middling and approachable and satisfactory at about a C+ level in every way.  Pass.  Suckling waxed on about sandalwood and whatnot, but this is a smooth, easy sipper, generous on the palate, but nothing to write home about red.  It’s like a Merlot without a face.

 

Price: $39 at BC Liquor, recently reduced to $30.  Before taxes.

 

Market Liquidity: If cast on The Watchmen, I think Looking Glass; a reflection, masked.

October 11, 2017

Chateau Clarke, 2010

Another decent mainstream Bordeaux that you can source at BC Liquor if you have a 50 in your wallet burning through the cowhide.  This has what the experts like to write, in an upbeat way, as having “fleshy tannins” which, to be fair, give it some character.  There is a cross of berries, brambly and woodsy the way an unripe raspberry can taste, a note of black cherry, and a top-heavy finish reminiscent of old oak.  If you need to serve a “label” and pedigree is all that matters, then I guess you could do much worse.  But at the price point there are actually many other more interesting bottles both here in BC and across Europe.  We couldn’t get too excited, despite the word Rothschild in fancy script; at seven years of careful cellaring you just expect more. (It definitely needs air; a small glass when we opened it compared to a decanted glass an hour later were chalk and cheese.)

 

Price: $44 plus extras at BCL. Yowza.

 

Market Liquidity: It’s a Bordeaux.  Next.

May 20, 2017

Château le Puy Emilien, 2012

Slow cooked pork belly with root vegetables

Hard to find fault.  Despite the long oak aging, it doesn’t thrust itself upon you; it has that je ne sais quoi of fine French reds.  Blind, I think you’d mistake it for 90% Cabernet Franc: There is an up front woodsiness to it, fennel, chocolate, licorice, intermingling with a slight funk, but low tannins and velvet on the palate, like the Merlot we’d expected.  Gorgeous with food, which we enjoyed at Kisso Tanto, the current go-to Chinatown spot in YVR.  And 12.5% for all that gorgeousness.  Vive le France.

Price: A shocking over the top outrageous $80 in a restaurant to which I might add, the “plonk” was going for $60.  Sold out, in my searches, at any local shops.

 

Market Liquidity: Think Mel Tormé in his heyday.

April 12, 2017

Chateau de Vieux Puit, 2010

A subtle, straightforward and hugely appealing red without the overbearing demeanor of Bordeaux.  Gorgeous with simply cooked meat.  The Merlot brings a wonderful balance to the Cab Sauv. First sip it might fool you in its simplicity, but the fruit and herbs de Provence shine through, gently.  By the end it leaves you a little taken aback.  It’s a value wine, yes, but not in a Value Village Winners kind of way, more like a Boxing Day sale; the real thing without the ka-ching.

 

Price: $24.99 at BC Liquor but astoundingly hard to find.

 

Market Liquidity: No wow factor, but stunning street cred.

January 25, 2017

Chateau Canada, 2012

chateau-canada-2012

I have never bought this wine on principle: It states the varietals in English on the front of the French label (!).  Plus, and this is just my quirk, a label that reads Chateau Canada is sort of like a Ye Olde pub in Victoria, BC, with faux wainscoting and Molson Canadian on tap.  Worse, they have, in English, an explanation of why it’s called Chateau Canada.  On the front of the bottle!  However…

 

However, AG gave it a great little review and the price point is right in my sweet spot and I only have this to say: Is there any better bottle of French red on the liquor store shelves in this city at this price?  I think not.  Astonishingly appealing value red.  Luscious to the last drop.  A mostly Merlot blend that is a must buy.

 

Price: $18 at BCL before taxes.

 

Market Liquidity: Ignore the window dressing.

January 28, 2016

Château Les Charmes-Godard, 2013

Like air-dried linen, crisp, sharp—sushi knife sharp—but comforting nonetheless. The deep rusty metallic Semillon has superb balance with a muted and peppery green Sauvignon Blanc; we felt the Semillon was front and centre, although many punters disagree. The briny finish is long with touches of preserved lemon, orange blossom and, believe it or not, heat. None of the hay you associate with New Zealand. For those who appreciate Bordeaux Blanc (more please Nicolas Thienpont), stellar.

Château Les Charmes-Godard, 2013

Hugh Johnson called Bordeaux, three years ago, a luxury item; rightly so. The “emerging markets” have not made a decent claret any more affordable. And we’re not in the market for Hermes or Prada, so decent Bordeaux is in fact a treat. But for those with the deep pockets we can be thankful they consider Bordeaux Blanc a lesser wine. Thank Jesus. It may be a lesser wine to the aficionados, but the craft is pure Bordeaux.

 

Intellectual aside: This wine reminded us of a 1921 poem Nabokov wrote to his mother which included the quote “…my mood is as radiant as ever. If I live to be a hundred, my spirit will still go around in short trousers.”

 

Price: $18.75 USD sometime in 2015.

 

Market Liquidity: Fortunately not in fashion.

November 23, 2015

Chateau Tour Saint-Fort, Saint-Estephe, 2005

From the cellar: Shag carpet. It is that smooth. A gorgeous Bordeaux, no doubt, but (and this is an ongoing problem) the critical raves for 05 have become tiresome, the expectations too high, and the wine, overall, great but not Ben Hur meets Avatar meets Titanic meets Ridley Scott on a soundstage epic. Good is different.

Chateau Tour Sain-Fort Saint Estephe

The smoothness comes with some funky, fungal, mushroom like undertones, a sharp peppery bite, which doesn’t linger, and sweet notes of cherry and currant. We decanted and drank slowly over an evening. It didn’t markedly improve.

 

In order to really impress someone you need to be thinking about the 05 vintage, looking at the label, and content to partake. But if you lined up some New World alternatives, I’m not confident it would blind taste as well as the pointster’s scores. Ridge anyone?

 

Price: $28 USD although I didn’t date the purchase. Still, at least half of what it would have cost in BC (and, worse, you would have had to slog your way through the mad crush of Bordeaux release day at BCL…)

 

Market Liquidity: Out to impress.

June 22, 2015

Chateau Clement Saint-Jean Cru Bourgeois Medoc, 2012

Chateau Clement Saint-Jean Cru Bourgeois Medoc, 2012

In a glowing review, one pro referred to this as Margaux-like. On my budget that’s about as good as it gets. However, despite the inviting ruby colour and evocative notes of berries it had (for me) a tad too much acidity; I couldn’t get as excited over this as some of the online hoopla led me to expect. It was very, very drinkable. But heck, it was a far cry from Margaux. It also needs another year or two lying down.

A little bit of everything you’d expect in a decent Medoc but nothing you’d expect in a great Medoc.

Price: $14 USD.

Market Liquidity: Half-mast.

April 21, 2015

Chateau Villars Fronsac, 2010

Chateau Villars Fronsac, 2010

From the cellar: A few years ago we bought six bottles of Fronsac. Still a couple left in the cellar, so we pulled one out to test its legs and celebrate this glorious spring weather. It is aging stupendously. Berries, licorice, charcoal, a spicy kick, smooth like angora, intense and fruit forward with a soft oaken finish. Absolutely sensational. When you think Bordeaux this is what you think of.

 

Price: $21 USD in 2013.

 

Market Liquidity: There’s good reason The Telegraph called Fronsac the Bridesmaid of Bordeaux.