BLOGGING BORDEAUX: Day Two (3/30/16)

BLOGGING BORDEAUX: Day Two (3/30/16)

We started tasting 2015s today but like yesterday, it was the older, more developed wines that stole the show. It’s funny how things work out. Yesterday I gushed over Ch. Gruaud Larose 1995 and today we visited Gruaud. So now I am going to gush over the 2009 Sarget (the 2nd vin of Gruaud Larose) and the 2001 Ch. Gruaud Larose.

Why the sudden interest in Gruaud? Well, it’s not sudden at all. I first became an appreciator of Ch. Gruaud Larose in 1983 when I Got to taste from a magnum of 1962 which was then on the wine list at Tony’s. That 1962 dazzled me and I went back for more. In fact, I drank them out of that wine. And then I started looking at other vintages of Ch. Gruaud Larose.

Which brings me to the now. Over the last two years, I have used multiple vintages of Ch. Gruaud Larose (’08, ’09, ’10, ’11, and ’12) at some dinners and tastings and all have showed well, often against more expensive wines. So on to the two older vintage Gruaud wines I tasted today:

Sarget de GRUAUD LAROSE (2nd vin), St. Julien, 2009
54% Cabernet Sauvigon, 26% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Petite Verdot aged 18-months in all 3-year air-dried French oak barrels (30% new).   Red-purple in color, and with well formed legs; dry, medium full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity; medium-plus phenolics. Delicious, dusty pencil shavings, dark red fruit. spice, tobacco leaf. All in a swirl. Integrating nicely but the pieces are still somewhat defined. BearScore: 92+.

Ch. GRUAUD LAROSE, St. Julien, 2001
A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvigon, 30% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petite Verdot aged 24-months in all 3-year air-dried French oak barrels (70% new).   Sensory: red-purple in color, and with well formed legs; dry, medium full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity and medium phenolics. Pencil Shavings and dark red fruit; ripe and even exotic. Tobacco-spice and dusty gravel. Supple, Alive. Complete. BearScore: 95+.

Here are my notes on the current releases from Ch. Latour – which has withdrawn from the en premiere system. We tasted the 2015s to get a look at the new vintage (even though the wines won’t be offered for several years) and then tasted these three wines that Ch. Latour is currently offering:

PAUILLAC de LATOUR (3rd Vin de Ch. Latour), Pauillac, 2010
A blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvigon, 44.5% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Red-Purple with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics. Supple, juicy; the flavors are developing but the wine is still fresh. Lots of red and darker red fruit with gravel and tobacco and a bit of spice. YUM. BearScore: 92+.

Les FORTS de LATOUR (2nd Vin de Ch. Latour), Pauillac, 2009
65% Cabernet Sauvigon, 32.5% Merlot, 0.5% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petite Verdot.   Red-purple in color with well formed legs; dry, medium full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity; medium-chewy phenolics. Elegant, supple, developing. Deep red and darker red fruit with tobacco and spice, gravel and dust. BearScore: 94+.

Ch. LATOUR, Pauillac, 2000
77% Cabernet Sauvigon, 16% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petite Verdot. Red-purple in color, and with well formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity; medium-plus phenolics. Lovely-pure-focused-integrated-complete. Fruit, dry floral, and pencil shavings bouquet. WOW. Beautiful wine. BearScore: 98.

No firm pricing on any of these as yet but Spec’s will be getting all of them. Something to look forward to.

I will start talking about the 2015s we’ve tasted at some point but with so little yet under our belts, it seems too soon to draw even the broadest of conclusions (even though some of the press is doing just that). Having said that: So far, So good.

(Ta Ta For now!)
More soon.


BLOGGING BORDEAUX: Day One (3/29/16)

During each of the last twenty years, I have traveled to Bordeaux to take part in the Union des Grands Crus (UGC) En Premiere week. After almost forty years of working professionally with Bordeaux wines and twenty years of regularly visiting Bordeaux to taste and learn and buy, I feel like I know my way around the city and the region and the wine. And I realize now that this is my twentieth UGC tasting in Bordeaux and that, with these UGC trips and other trips with cusmomer and for Vinexpo, I will soon (by the end of this trip) have spent a full year over last twenty in Bordeaux. A year in Bordeaux. Twenty years in Bordeaux. Either way you think of it, it is a major milestone. It makes me reflect on the wines and the people and the places. It makes think about what I’ve learned about Bordeaux with my size 9EEE cowboy boots on the ground during the second half of my coming-up-on-forty-year wine career.

First day was business and tasting appointments with two negoçiants: Barriere and Ballande et Meneret. Both appointments were more about looking at values and new properties rather than evaluating 2015s which will start in earnest on Wednesday after I pick up my colleagues from Spec’s at the Bordeaux Airport. First stop for them: Ch. Latour. Followed by Gruaud Larose and an early dinner and then an early turn in.

Highlights of the first day: The few 2015s I tasted were frankly delicious (Beychevelle showing great) but it is way too early to start making pronouncements about the vintage. However, I did taste two wines that really got me going. The first was a basic St. Emilion (not even Grand Cru) that has decided to be all it can be:

Ch. TRUQUET, St. Emilion, 2012
A unique blend of 20% Cabernet Sauvigon (yes, Sauvignon) and 80% Merlot grown on a gravelly area (rare for St. Emilion) near Ch. Figeac fermented and aged all in concrete tanks.   Deep-red in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity and medium phenolics. Supple, fresh, oddly gravelly-cabby baby Figeac. Delicious red fruit. Fresh and alive in the mouth. Simple (in the best way) and pretty. YUM. BearScore: 91+.
This is a find. When it comes in (it will be a while), it will be under $15 a bottle. Could be (along with Ch. Tour Salvet) the new house Bordeaux.

The second was a perfectly aged older wine from favorite producer:

Ch. GRUAUD LAROSE, St. Julien, 1995
A perfectly aged blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvigon, 26% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petite Verdot.   Medium-deep-red in color, and with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with still freshly-balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics. Dusty, developed tobacco nose with sweet developed perfectly drinking red fruit, oak, and dusty gravel. Supple and still fresh. Absolutely Delicious. Stunningly good. BearScore: 96+.    We tasted this at the office and drank some with lunch. And we can get some for Spec’s. It should be about $160 (assuming a reasonably stable Euro) a bottle when it comes in and it will be coming direct from the chateau.

Gotta go now. More to come.

Madiran and Cahors

Please join me, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton, on Monday March 21st at 7pm for Madiran and Cahors. Discover the tastes of Tannat (newly popular wine from Uruguay but native to Madiran) and Malbec (wildly popular wine from Argentina but native to Cahors) as grown-and-produced on their home turf. We’ll discuss the varieties and their terroir along with the techniques used to make them and the food that is served with them. The twelve wines we’ll taste range in price from $10-to-over-$150. As always, cheese and bread will accompany the evening’s offerings.

Ch. Barrejat, Madiran, 2013
Torus, Madiran, 2010
Ch. Bouscasse, Madiran, 2009
Ch. Montus, Madiran, 2009
Ch. Montus, Madiran, 2010
Ch. Montus, “La Tyre”, Madiran, 2006

Gouleyant Malbec, Cahors, 2014
La Fleur de Haut Serre, Cahors, 2013
Vassal de Mercues, Cahors, 2013
Ch. de Mercues, Cahors, 2011
Ch. de Mercues “Cuvee 6666”, Cahors 2011
Ch. de Mercues “Cuvee Icone”, Cahors, 2010

Madiran and Cahors will cost $60.00 per person cash ($63.16 regular).
The course will meet at 7pm on Monday March 21, 2016 at l’Alliance Française.
To reserve your spot, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or

L’Alliance Française is the French cultural center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd., l’Alliance is on the southeast corner of Lovett and Whitney (one block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose).

As The Wine School at l’Alliance Française, Bear Dalton has been teaching Texans about wine since 1998. He has over 35 years of experience tasting (currently about 9,000 wines a year), drinking and enjoying, and working professionally with wine – including over 30 years experience teaching and writing about wine.