09/17/14 – The TOUR de MEDOC

WendyNarbyA Class and Tasting featuring the Wines of the Medoc with Wendy Narby

On Wednesday, September 17th at 7pm, please join me (Bear Dalton) at l’Alliance Française in welcoming my friend Wendy Narby of the Conseil Des Vins Du Médoc for The Tour de Medoc: a class and tasting offering a virtual tour through the wine appellations that make up the whole of the Medoc. British/French wine professional Wendy Narby will lead us through ten wines including:

Ch. Tour St Bonnet, Medoc, 2010
Ch. Senejac, Haut Medoc, 2011
Ch. Bibian, Haut Medoc, 2010
Ch. Pontoise Cabarrus, Haut Medoc, 2010
Ch. Poujeaux. Haut Medoc – Moulis. 2011
Ch. Fourcas Borie, Haut Medoc – Listrac, 2008
Ch. Beau Site, St. Estephe, 2010
Ch. Pontac Lynch, Margaux, 2011
Pavillon de Poyferre, St Julien, 2010
Ch. Batailley, Pauillac, 2010

To reserve your spot, please contact Marlo Ammons at 832-660-0250 (after 10am) or MarloAmmons@specsonline.com. The cost of this class is a $20 donation (cash or check please) to the Houston Area Women’s Center. L’Alliance Française is French Cultural Center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd., l’Alliance is on the south-east corner of Lovett and Whitney (one block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose).

Wendy Narby has spent the last 25 years in the French Food and Wine Industry. She is a teacher at the Ecole du Vin, has been a wine and food consultant in Paris and Bordeaux for the last 20 years. British born Wendy’s wine experience is not just based upon study but years working as a marketing consultant, journalist, teacher and guide. Leaving Paris to marry a local Château owner and negociant Wendy now shares her passion for the region with friends and clients from all over the world. Wendy now teaches professionals and the general public in Bordeaux, the UK and as far away as Asia and the US, as well as accompanying private wine tours for amateurs and enthusiasts alike. Her aim is to open the doors of the world’s most famous vineyards, explaining and making the wonderful world of French wine more accessible. Not being completely biased she often escapes to Champagne, Burgundy and the Rhone to explore other regions and wines. Wendy blogs on Bordeaux at InsiderTasting.com

CIMAbout the Conseil des Vins du Médoc
Formed in 1969, the Conseil des Vins du Médoc is the official body which represents all of the wine-producers in Médoc from the 8 appellations (Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Margaux, Listrac, Moulis, Saint-Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe) and from the different families of wines (Crus Bourgeois, Grands Crus Classés, Crus Artisans, brand wines and wines from cooperatives and other independent wines).

BearOnBordeaux: Ch. SENEJAC Haut Medoc 2011

Ch. Senejac has been on the periphery of my wine awareness for several years. Over the last few it has moved front and center. The quality seems to have improved. Maybe it is the Cordier family ownership. Maybe it has a bit to do with some consulting (now ended) from Alfred Tesseron of Ch. Pontet Canet. Maybe it is the very able winemaking team from Ch. Talbot (which goes back to that Cordier family ownership). Whatever the case, Senejac has – for me at least – stepped up to the front of the line for high quality wine from the Haut Medoc. And it hits a a particular and useful style.ChateauSenejacHouse

The Haut Medoc is large appellation and the style of the wines vary quite a bit based on where they are in the appellation. Ch. Pontoise Cabarrus in the north (past St. Estephe) offers a leaner and more focused style as you might expect from the cooler temperature, slopes, and more wind in the area. Ch. Caronne St. Gemme (behind St. Julien very close to Ch. Talbot) offers something more in the middle with a lot of the character you’d expect to find in a good St. Julien. And Senjac, located in Pian de Medoc in the southern most part of the Haut Medoc between Margaux and the city of Bordeaux offers more warmth and richness – which is what you’d expect from a warmer and more temperate (more protected from the weather of the Atlantic coast) area. (I like all of these styles, find all of these wines useful in pairing with different foods, and so drink all of them – and am richer for it.)

I have tasted (and quite liked) this 2011 several times beginning in early April of 2012 and most recently (as of this posting) on July 1, 2014. Each time I taste it, I seem to think a bit more highly of it.

Ch. SENEJAC, Haut Medoc, 2011 ($21.84)SenejacBottle
A Southern Medoc (between Bordeaux and Margaux) 13.5% alcohol blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Petite Verdot fermented using pump-over and aged 15 months in all French oak barrels (33% new). Red in color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium-plus phenolics along with impressive richness. Offers red & black cherry berry fruit with accents of black pepper, tobacco, dusty wood, black flowers. Quite long in the mouth. Opens up beautifully as it evolves in the glass. Satisfying and delicious. BearScore: 91.

Winery Profile: Ch. PONTOISE CABARRUS Haut Medoc

Owned by since 1959 by the Terygeol family and now run by Eric Terygeol with consultation from the famous Boissenot family, Ch. Pontoise Cabarrus traces its roots back to the Baron de Brane (then also owner of Brane Mouton, now known as Ch. Mouton Rothschild) in the 1700s. Located just adjacent to the St. Estephe appellation in St. Seurin de Cadourne in the Haut Medoc appellation, this is adjacent to and shares the same terroir and exposures as Ch. Sociando Mallet.PontoiseWinery

The vineyard is planted to a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot, mostly on well-drained gravelly slopes close to and facing the Gironde estuary. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot are on deep gravel and the Merlot is on clay over limestone. The Caberent Franc is where they meet. The location and situation are ideal for producing elegant Cabernet Sauvignon-based red wines in the classic style.

Alcoholic fermentation is in temperature controlled concrete tanks with pump overs. Malolactic fermentation and aging are in French oak barrels. The percentage of new barrels has increased from 25% to now 33% while time in the barrels has decreased a bit.

Rather than new world, these are classic claret-style reds with elegance and finesse to go with their generally more red than black fruit and distinctive notes of tobacco leaf, cedar, and gravel-dust terroir.

This personal favorite of mine is an every-day priced Bordeaux you can drink now (decant it roughly if you do) but that will reward your keeping it for up to 10 years. I can’t think of a more consistent or better value in a Cabernet-dominant, classically-built Bordeaux red.

Ch. PONTOISE CABARRUS, Haut Medoc, 2008 ($18.99)Pontoise2010
Tech: 13.5% alc. A blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot fermented in temperature-controlled concrete tanks using pump-overs and aged 18 months in French oak barrels (25% new) and bottled after a traditional egg white fining.   Sensory: Purple-red in color with well-formed legs; dry, medium full-bodied with balanced acidity and medium plus phenolics. Richer, juicy ripe fresh red and black fruit with gravelly dust (along with a hint of limestone) terroir and dusty oak accented with cedar, tobacco, black pepper, exotic sweet spice; long finish; Exciting, bright, and fresh; lovely-in-the-mouth. BS: 90+

Ch. PONTOISE CABARRUS, Haut Medoc, 2009 ($19.99)
Tech: 14% alc. A blend of roughly 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot fermented in temperature-controlled concrete tanks using pump-overs and aged 18 months in French oak barrels (25% new) and bottled after a traditional egg white fining.   Sensory: Deep-purple-red in color with well-formed legs; dry, medium full-bodied with fresh, balanced acidity and moderately chewy phenolics. Juicy evenly mixed black & red fruit with dusty gravelly earth and accents of tobacco, spice, black pepper, cedar; very long finish; focused and quite tasty. Exciting, bright, and fresh; lovely-in-the-mouth. BS: 91

Ch. PONTOISE CABARRUS, Haut Medoc, 2010 ($19.99)
A 14.5% alcohol blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 4% Cabernet Franc fermented in temperature-controlled concrete tanks using pump-overs and aged 12 months in all French oak barrels (1/3 new).   Sensory: Deep-purple in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics. Dark juicy rich blackberry-black cherry-blueberry fruit supple with gravelly earth and dusty oak accented with tobacco leaf and a hint of pencil shavings. Long finish; complete, delicious, lovely-in-the-mouth. Classic Haut Medoc and real “go to” for me. BS: 91.