Wine of the Week: Ch. AMPELIA Castillon 2011

FrancoisDespagneAt last Tuesday’s (01/21/14) 2011 Mostly Cru Classé Bordeaux Tasting at the Crystal Ballroom at the Rice in Houston, a lowly unclassified Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux was a surprise star of the show. I have drunk many vintages of Ch. Ampelia and quite like them but I don’t remember the wine showing this well in such august company. This makes me particularly happy because owner winemaker François Despagne is such a good guy. Despagne is better known as  the owner/vigneron/winemaker of highly regarded St. Emilion Grand Cru Classé Ch. Grand Corbin Despagne. He spends several days every year in Texas tasting and talking about his wines.

Ch. AMPELIA, Cotes de Castillon, 2011 ($17.99)ChAmpelia
An organically grown, 13% alcohol blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc  fermented half in stainless and half in concrete tanks using pump-over and aged 12 months in all French oak barrels (33% new) The grapes were hand-picked and sorted both in the vineyard and on the sorting table at the chateau.   Deep purple-red in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics.  Dark juicy-dusty red fruit with spice and a hint of basil/mint over dusty earth and supple oak. Very well integrated and complete. Alive in the mouth. A pleasure to drink now but will improve with some time in the bottle. BS: 91.