BLOGGING BORDEAUX: Day Nine (April 6)

Back in the saddle again?
Wednesday Morning, 8am. All present and accounted for. None of us ate much for breakfast but we started the day sipping Cokes and headed for Libourne to taste at the offices of JP Mouiex with Christian Mouiex and his son Eduoard. In years past this has been a difficult start to the day as it is a lot of wines in a first (9am) stop and the samples tend to be not cool but cold. Also, these are big wines that take some thought. Well, this year was easier. Were well greeted and welcomed and ushered into a private room where we (along with François Thienpont who we spend Wednesday with) tasted through fifteen 2015 St. Emilion and Pomerol wines to start the day. Highlights included
Ch. PUY BLANQUET, St. Emilion, 2015 (91+)
Ch. PLINCE, Pomerol, 2015 (91+)
Ch. La GRAVE, Pomerol, 2015 (92)
Ch. BOURGNEUF, Pomerol, 2015 (93)
Ch. LATOUR a POMEROL, Pomerol, 2015 (93)
Ch. CERTAN de MAY, Pomerol, 2015 (93+)
Ch. La FLEUR PETRUS, Pomerol, 2015 (94-96)
Ch. TROTANOY, Pomerol, 2015 (95-96)
Ch. BELAIR MONANGE, St. Emilion, 2015 (95-96)
And some of these scores may have suffered for all the competition present in the room. Before we left, I spoke to Eduoard Mouiex about maybe scheduling a-whole-morning-plus next year and actually visiting all these properties to get a better feel for each of their specificities. He’s onboard. Isn’t that why I go to Bordeaux?

After the Mouiex tasting, it is straight on to Cheval Blanc to taste Ch. QUINAULT l’ENCLOS (94 and the only St. Emilion in the city limits of Libourne), Ch. CHEVAL BLANC (98-100, no 2nd wine was made), and Ch. d’YQUEM (98-100). More on d’Yquem and Cheval Blanc later.

Next stop: Ch. Figeac – which is just across the street from Cheval Blanc on the graveliest terroir in St. Emilion. The PETIT FIGEAC (94, 2nd wine) was so good I almost forgot I wasn’t yet tasting the grand vin. And the Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant Ch. FIGEAC (97-99) is clearly one of the great wines of the vintage.

Next stop: Ch. Pavie MacQuin to taste the Thienpont wines with François, his older brother Nicolas who manages the family estates – Ch. PUYGUERAUD (91) and Ch. La PRADE (91) as well as Ch. BERLIQUET (93), Ch. LARCIS DUCASSE (94+), Ch. PAVIE MACQUIN (95-96), and Ch. BEAUSEJOUR DUFFAU (95-96), and his nephew Cyrille (son of Nicolas). There were two whites shown here that may be offered as futures: Ch. PUYGUERAUD Blanc (90+, 40% Sauvignon Gris, no oak) and Ch. CHARMES GODARD Blanc (91+, 25% Sauvignon Gris, all in barrels). After Pavie Macquin we stayed in the “Mondot” area of St. Emilion and stopped in at l’IF (not Ch. l’If, just l’If pronounced “leaf”) to taste Jacques Thienpont’s (owner of Ch. Le Pin which is not being shown yet due to a late malo-lactic fermentation) 2015 l’IF (96-97+).

Thienponts at l'If

All Thienponts: François, Jacques, Nicolas, and Cyrille (who did not get the red pants memo) at l’If

Are we having fun yet? We think so. Next stop: Lunch at Ch. Grand Barrail which is a fabulous restaurant and hotel in St. Emilion. Great food but I am the ugly American drinking coke with my lunch (trying to settle my stomach) and I get up from the table feeling both rocky and wobbly. And our next stop is Ch. PETRUS (97-99) but I had a tough time with it (my problem, not theirs).

After Petrus, we went to VIEUX Ch. CERTAN (97-100, also known as “VCC”) and tasted with estate manager/winemaker Alexander Thienpont (another of the great gentlemen of Bordeaux). I think I remember walking out of VCC and driving back to the hotel to be alone in my misery. The guys continued on tasting with François and went on to the Commanderie de Bordeaux dinner that night (Where Richard won a bottle of 1999 Ch. Haut Brion). I went back to I-want-my-mommy.

Great wines. Rough day.

More soon.

10/16/14 – October Right Bank Bordeaux Dinner at Charivari

On Thursday, October 16th at 7pm, please join me, Bear Dalton, at Charivari Restaurant for our October Right Bank Bordeaux Dinner featuring twelve great Right Bank red Bordeaux wines from the 2011 vintage (starting of course with Champagne and ending with a favorite from Barsac) paired with Chef Schuster’s Autumnal seasonal offerings.

d'AiguilheThe MENU
Blue Point Oysters & Gruyere aux Gratin with
Barons Rothschild Brut Blanc de Blancs, Champagne NV

Moulard Duck Ballotine & Multigrain Quinotto,
Coffee Bourbon & Merlot reduction with
Ch. Puygueraud, Francs – Cotes de Bordeaux, 2011
Ch. d’Aiguilhe, Castillion – Cotes de Bordeaux, 2011
Pomerol de La Pointe, Pomerol, 2011
Ch. La Pointe, Pomerol, 2011

LaConfessionRed Beet Sorbet

Herbs de Provence Braised Lamb Shanks aux jus,
Black Garlic Potatoes Puree, Green Bean Bouquet with
Ch. La Confession, St. Emilion, 2011
Ch. Clos de l’Oratoire, St. Emilion, 2011
Ch. Berliquet, St. Emilion, 2011
Ch. Larcis Ducasse, St. Emilion, 2011
Ch. Pavie Maquin, St. Emilion, 2011
Ch. Canon La Gafelliere, St. Emilion, 2011

PavieMacAssortment of Cheeses with
Ch. Croix St. Georges, Pomerol, 2011
Ch. Clinet, Pomerol, 2011

Apple Tart Flambé
Ch. Coutet, Barsac, 2011

This October Right Bank Bordeaux dinner will cost $120.00 per person including a 5% discount for cash or check or $126.31 regular. All taxes and tips are included. Attendance at this dinner is strictly limited to 20 people. For reservations, please reply by email to MarloAmmons@specsonline.com or call Marlo Ammons at 832-660-0250.

Charivari is located at 2521 Bagby (77006) in Mid-Town Houston.

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.