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Posts Tagged ‘Bordeaux’

The following morning had us up early and out the door at 8:30.  Our focus today was on the appellation of Margaux, so we piled into the van and headed south, approximately 25 minutes to our 9 a.m. appointment at Château Margaux.

Steve G. and Mumu visit Chateaux Margaux

Rated as one of four first classed growths awarded in 1855, Château Margaux is the stuff of legend. The domaine produces its first wine or Grand Vin known simply as Château Margaux.  It also produces a second wine known as le Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux. A white wine, called Pavillon Blanc is also produced.

The domaine is rather large, encompassing approximately 650 acres. 200 acres are planted to (mostly) cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet france and petit verdot. 12 acres are devoted to sauvignon blanc, which is used to produce the Pavillon Blanc.

tasting at Chateaux Margaux

Our group was led into the central chai where we tasted through the 2010 vintage of all three wines.  Lots of note taking, scribbling..along with a few oohs and ahhs emitted from our group to be sure.

Bordeaux big guns: the MWB and Ralph S.

At one point I snapped this pic of K&L’s Bordeaux big guns, Clyde Beffa and Ralph Sands. 2011 marked Ralphs 41st trip to Bordeaux. Clyde has been coming and tasting the each new vintage in Bordeaux even longer than Ralph. Unbelievable. If anyone knows Bordeaux wine in terms of what to look and taste for it’s these two veterans.

Bordeaux over achieving Chateau Palmer

Our next tasting appointment brought us to Château Palmer.  Located in the communes of Margaux and Cantenac, this “super” third growth rated domaine is generally considered among the vinous elite of the left bank..right up there with the super seconds like Cos d’estournel, Pichon Lalande and Montrose.

The property’s approximately 125 acres of vineyards include 47% planted to cabernet sauvignon, 47% planted to merlot and 6% to petit verdot. And in rather atypical fashion, Château Palmer utilizes at least 40% (and sometimes as much as 60%) merlot in the final blends. Along with the meticulous vinification procedures one might expect in the production of a super premium wine like Palmer (hand harvesting, triage, temperature controlled fermentation, regular pigeage and (4)rackings) the wine spends 21 months in 45% new barriques.

Chateau Palmers' 2010s

In addition to the estate’s eponymous Grand Vin, Château Palmer produces a second wine known as the Alter Ego de Palmer. The first release of this second wine was in 1998. Like its big brother, it is comprised of a considerable portion of merlot, and sees around 17 months of elevage in 25-40% new barrique.

The annual production at Château Palmer stands at approximately 20,000 total cases.  The Grand Vin accounts for around 12,000 cases, while the Alter Ego de Palmer tops out at approximately 8,000 cases.

Jean-Luc Zuger of Malescot St. Exupery pours his 2010s

Another excellent third growth is Malescot St. Exupery, which is where we were headed next. Owner and winemaker Jean-Luc Zuger tasted us on both the 2009 and 2010 vintages.

Note: amongst the classed growths in Bordeaux, it seems almost atypical to have the owner of a domaine also be responsible for the vineyards and all vinification as Jean-Luc is. What is commonplace in just about every region in France seems to be the exception to the rule amongst the elite Bordeaux estates.

pick a vintage, any vintage...

Our final tasting appointment in Margaux included Château d’Angludet. We met up with James Sichel, on of five siblings who represent the sixth generation of the famille Sichel to be involved in the business of wine.

The estate is comprised of 81 hectares (197 acres), of which 32 (78 acres) are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. There are approximately 10,000 cases of the estate wine produced annually, and 3100 cases of the Angludet’s second wine, Moulin d’Angludet.

I have always had a real liking for the wines from d’Angludet. This domaine, rated a Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, is never the biggest or the flashiest of the bunch, however to me they always exude elegance and refinement. Perhaps the Grace Kelly of Bordeaux. Pick a vintage..any vintage..and your sure to get a flash of old world elegance and finesse.

NEXT: the wines of St. Julien and lunch with Anthony Barton!

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gravel..gravel..gravel @ Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion

After lunch Clyde, Mark, Kerri, Ali and myself set off for an afternoon of tastings in the Graves region. We arrived at Château la Mission Haut-Brion just in time to meet up with the rest of the party fresh K&L Bordeaux contingent (Ralph, Trey, Alex and Steve) who had just flown in from Paris.

Originally constructed in the early 16th century amongst a pastoral setting, today the grand domaine of Château la Mission Haut-Brion is surrounded by the city of Bordeaux suburban sprawl.

On stony, gravelly soils, its approximately 21 hectares, (52 acres) are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc in the A.O.C. of Pessac Leognan.

The afternoon lineup..

Directly up the road from La Mission is the entrance to Château Haut-Brion, which is one of the 5 first class growths anointed in the 1855 classification. Similar to La Mission, the Château Haut-Brion vineyards also lie on gravelly soils interspersed with mounds of clay.  Approximately 48 hectares (119 acres) are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot,Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.  Just under 3 hectares (7.1 acres) are planted to white varietals, which include Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

As both Château Haut-Brion and Château la Mission Haut-Brion are presently owned by Domaine Clarence Dillon, our tasting that afternoon included the 2010 releases of wine from both of these domaines.

Clyde, Kerri, Mumu, Ali and Mark..

Here is a rundown of the wines that we tasted:

Château La Mission Haut-Brion

2010 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion

2010 La Mission Haut-Brion

2010 La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc    (formerly known as Laville Haut-Brion Blanc)

 

Château Haut-Brion

2010 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion (formerly known as Bahans Haut-Brion)

2010 Haut Brion

2010 La Clarté de Haut-Brion

2010 Haut-Brion Blanc (only 500 cases made!)

For a complete vintage report as well as tasting notes of all the 2010 Bordeaux that our team tasted, check out the 2010 K&L Bordeaux report!

Elevage at La Mission Haut-Brion

Our visit concluded with a brief tour of the grounds and chai, which includes this magnificent barrel room., which along with the formal tasting room, was completely renovated in 2007.

Team K&L strike a pose at Chateau Pape Clement

Our next scheduled tasting that afternoon was at Château Pape Clément . In addition to being ranked as a Premier Cru in the 1959 Classification of Graves, this venerable domaine also holds the title as the oldest wine estate in Bordeaux.

Le Pape des Vignes: Pope Clement V

Its vineyards were first planted in the year 1300, by Bertrand de Goth and perhaps more famously known as Pope Clement V. At the time, only red wine grapes were planted to the vineyards. In case you are wondering, this is the same (of French origin) pope who moved the papal court from Rome (actually he never left France) to Avignon for a period spanning 67 years (1309-1378).

During this period, also known as the “Babylonian Captivity”,  Pape Clement V’s successor John XXII erected the famous castle in the winegrowing region known as Chateauneuf-du-Pape (the pope’s new castle).

Tasting at Chateau Pape Clement

Fast forward about 8 centuries and Château Pape Clément is still going strong, this time under the ownership of Bernard Magrez, the French wine magnate who also owns also owns Château La Tour Carnet in the Haut-Médoc. In the photo above, Monsieur Magrez can be seen tasting wine in the far left corner of the room. The gentleman in the blue shirt next to him is the domaine’s consulting oenologist, Michel Rolland.

Our tasting here included not only the 2010 releases of Pape Clement but an introduction to many of the estates that Magrez has developed and owns across the globe which include Spain, Chile, Argentina and California.

For more photos of Château Pape Clément’s beautiful grounds and glorious past please check out Les Photos to the right.

Is there room at the inn? Chateau Ormes de Pez

As our first tasting day wound down, it was time to head north to our “crash pad” for the next several evenings.  About 45 minutes north of the Graves in the A.O.C. of Saint-Estèphe we arrived at Château Ormes de Pez.  This illustrious domaine is presently owned by the Cazes famille, who also own Château Lynch-Bages.

A toast to Bordeaux 2010!

This beautiful estate and its grounds are where we unpacked our bags, changed into something more comfortable, and toasted to our first day in Bordeaux!


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Bordeaux 2010 begins at Château Malartic- Lagravière

Over the river, through the woods, and across a roundabout is how myself and team K&L arrived in Bordeaux not too long ago.  The occasion? The Union des Grand Cru des Bordeaux was holding its annual en primeur week, where wine professionals and press from around the world descend upon the region to taste the newest vintage before the wine or prices are released.

From April 5-7th, tastings were held throughout the region and included the communes of Graves,  Pessac-Leognan, Listrac-Medoc, Haut-Medoc, Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Estèphe, Sauternes & Barsac, Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. As you can already imagine, a lot of young, full-bodied 2010 Bordeaux was going to be tasted. And we were ready for it!

Bordeaux 2010: I will be filling you in on some of the highlights of this amazing, once in a lifetime trip. It was my first time to Bordeaux, and I am grateful to have been invited to participate with and learn from the best (this is a shout out to Clyde B. and Ralph S.).

Here is my tweet on the 2010 vintage: Bold, rich fruit, with a rich mid-palate. Ripe, yet tannic structure with impressive acidity. Built for the long haul. Prices will be off the hook for classed growths.

Let the tasting begin!

Our first stop was at Château Malartic-Lagravière, located in the commune of Pessac-Léognan.  Just beyond the magnificent chateau and estate vineyards, the tasting hall was in full swing with paticipants lining up to sign in and grab their i.d. badges.

Once inside, the best of Graves and Pessac-Leognan were in attendance.  At this first tasting I had the opportunity to taste approximately 40+ wines from throughout the region.

The vineyards of Château Malartic-Lagravière

Domaine de Chevalier, Château La Louviere, Château Haut-Bailly; these were several of my top picks for the region in 2010.  In the next few days and fresh off the press, K&L Wine Merchants  will release its annual Bordeaux vintage and tasting report which will include a detailed vintage report as well as tasting notes on the hundreds of wines that were tasted throughout this trip. I will be sure to include a link when it becomes available!

Hospitality by Barry Flanagan at Chateau Smith Haut-Lafitte

After knocking out this first tasting, our stomachs were grumbling. One cannot live on wine alone! So we hopped back into our 8 person passenger van and high-tailed it over to Château Smith Haut-Lafitte.

Displayed amongst the vines and throughout the estate are wonderfully evocative sculptures from artists around the world.  The gigantic rabbit/hare seen above and named “Hospitality” is the work of Welsh sculptor Barry Flanagan.

Clyde Beffa a.k.a. the MWB contemplating a stay at Les Sources de Caudalie..

In addition to a world winery, the grounds are home to Les Sources de Caudalie, a first class spa and retreat.  Les Sources also boasts two delicious dining venues. La Grand’Vigne, which presents the ultimate in fine dining spa cuisine, and La Table du Lavoir, a more casual bistro style restaurant where Clyde had reserved a table for lunch that day.

Enjoying a break in the action @ La Table du Lavoir

Clyde, Kerri, Mark, Alison sat down to casual an oh so civilized lunch before heading back out for a second round of tasting that afternoon.

And what to drink with such a delicious lunch? (I ordered the beef carpaccio with vegetables and hazelnut and the sea bream a la plancha). How about a bottle each of 2006 Château Malartic-Lagravière Blanc and 2007 Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge?

Believe it or not, our group tried to keep our lunch and wine consumption on the light side as a) we had to drive to our next destination b) there was indeed some great wine to be tasted, and we needed to be “on point” to do so. Our plan was to meet up with a second group of K&L folk who had just arrived from Paris.

We finished lunch with a delicious lemon tart, a couple of canelé. I fortified myself with a shot of espresso and then we were off to an afternoon of tastings at Château Pape Clement and Château Haut-Brion.

For more photos of lunch at La Table du Lavoir, please check out Les Photos on the right hand side bar.

 

More to come from Bordeaux 2010!

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