BLOGGING BORDEAUX: Day Ten (April 7)

Gentlemen, start your Livers …
Thursday Morning, 8am. On the road to Pauillac. Which is a full hour north of where we’re staying at Bordeaux Lac on the north side of Bordeaux (not far from the old German U-Boat pens).

First stop, Ch. Pichon Baron to taste AXA-owned properties, arriving in the rain. Much to my surprise, AXA managing director Christian Seely (who does office at Ch. Pichon Baron) is standing behind the tasting bar to pour the wines. This is new. First comes Ch. PIBRAN (90+) and then the two 2nd wines of Pichon: the merlot dominant Les TOURELLES de LONGUEVILLE (92) and the Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant Les GRIFFONS de LONGUEVILLE (92+) followed by Ch. PICHON BARON (94+) and Ch. PETITE VILLAGE (91) and finally Ch. SUDUIRAUT (93). Are these scores too low? Maybe. Quite possibly. It could be that I was still a bit out of sorts that morning. Or it could be that that is just how they showed. I did not have a second chance to taste these wines – and we did not have time to linger – so I’m stuck with what I’ve got.

From Ch. Pichon Baron to Ch. Grand Puy Lacoste is maybe five minutes and in that time the sun came out and the skies cleared. Warmly greeted by the ebullient and professional François Xavier Borie (yet another of Bordeaux’s great gentlemen) and his daughter Amelie, we tasted 2nd vin Ch. LACOSTE BORIE (92+), Ch. HAUT BATAILLEY (93+), and Ch. GRAND PUY LACOSTE (96-98+ and wow, wow, wow!).

On to Ch. Lynch Bages where we were greeted by the limping (scooter accident) but ever genial and entertaining Jean Charles Cazes who has several years back taken over the properties from his father – University of Texas alumnus (petroleum engineering) and former Pauillac mayor – Jean Michel Cazes. We tasted St. Estephe Ch. Les ORMES de PEZ (92+), Pauillacs ECHO de LYNCH BAGES (92+) and Ch. LYNCH BAGES (95), and Bordeaux Blanc BLANC de LYNCH BAGES (94).

Next came Ch. Mouton Rothschild were we’d taste Ch. d’ARMAILHAC (93), Ch. CLERC MILON (93+), PETIT MOUTON (94), and Ch. MOUTON ROTHSCHILD (97-99) and then across the road to Ch. PONTET CANET (96-98) before we stopped (in the rain) for a lovely lunch with the delightful Veronique Dausse of Ch. PHELAN SEGUR (94+).

There is a lot of talk, especially from producers in Pessac-Leognan and Margaux (that didn’t get the late season rains) that “poor St. Estephe and Pauillac and St. Julien” got too much rain too late and so are less good. It appears that, at least at those chateaux with well-draining deep gravel-sand terroirs, that late rain wasn’t much of an issue. This 2015 is the best Phelan I have ever tasted.

Leaving lunch (and still raining), we head for Ch. COS d’ESTOURNEL (94-96), then Ch. Montrose to taste Ch. TRONQUOY LALANDE (91+), La DAME de MONTROSE (92), and Ch. MONTROSE (94-96) before a sprint over to Ch. Calon Segur. At Calon, we tasted Ch. CAPBERN (92+, from a separate terroir close to Tronquoy Lalande), 2nd vin MARQUIS de CALON (93+, another of those 2nd wines that can be mistaken for a grand vin), and Ch. CALON SEGUR (95-97+). I’d say St. Estephe made a more than respectable showing.

Now on to one more Pauillac, Ch. Pichon Lalande before we finish the tasting day in St. Julien. With estate manager Nicolas Glumineau, we tasted RESERVE de la COMTESSE (93) and Ch. PICHON LALANDE (96-98).

After Pichon comes Ducru Beaucaillou where we tasted Bruno Borie’s two Listrac wines – Ch. DUCLUZEAU (90+) and Ch. FOURCAS BORIE (91) – which may be the cleanest, least funky wines of Listrac, followed by the his St. Julien wines Ch. LALANDE BORIE (90 here but a better sample the next day at Joanne got 91+), La CROIX DUCRU BEAUCAILLOU (93 and now a separate property, no longer a 2nd vin), and Ch. DUCRU BEAUCAILLOU (97-99 and the best young Ducru I have ever tasted. Ethereal).

We end the tasting day at Ch. Leoville las Cases running only 25 minutes behind (which unfortunately is about normal). Normally this is not one of my favorite tastings as 1) it always seems to come at the end of a long day and 2) I have sometimes (often) struggled to understand these wines. Not this year. The two Medoc-appellated wines from just north of the Haut Medoc appellation of St. Seurin de Cadourne CHAPELLE de POTENSAC (91+) and Ch. POTENSAC (92+) were fresh and lively. The St. Julien former 2nd vin, now separate property CLOS du MARQUIS (94+) now has its own second wine called La PETITE MARQUISE du CLOS du MARQUIS (92). Which brings us to the main event: 2nd vin Le PETIT LION (94) and Ch. LEOVILLE Las CASES (96-98, most enjoyable young Leoville las Cases of my career).

At this point we were all feeling heathy enough to go to the river front in Pauillac and sit outside for a sip of Champagne and nibble of jambon before the drive back to Bordeaux. Nothing cleans your mouth up – and gets the purple off your teeth – after a long day of tasting young red Bordeaux like Champagne.

A great day, despite the rain but it’s not over. We have an hour plus drive ahead of us to get to a great party at negoçiant Archie Johnston’s house where the Champagne and oysters are flowing freely, the conversation about the new vintage and Bordeaux in general is intelligent and lively and, later in the evening, some jewels like 1982 Ch. Haut Brion and 1955 Ch. Lafite get drunk.

But wait, there’s more. We still have Friday to go. Stay tuned.

11/04/14 – MORE FUN WITH BORDEAUX

CalonSegurSixteen Wines – Four Chateaux – Four Verticals
d’Armailhac – Branaire Ducru – Calon Segur – Cantenac Brown

On Tuesday, November 4 at 7pm, please join me (Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for a unique Bordeaux tasting featuring four verticals from four great Haut Medoc chateaux: Ch. d’Armailhac in Pauillac, Ch. Branaire Ducru in St. Julien, Ch. Calon Segur in St. Estephe, and Ch. Cantenac Brown in Margaux We will taste the 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 vintages from each of these properties.

BranaireDucruThis is the second in a series of vertical tastings where we look at four vintages of four top wines. I think it will be fun and informative. The cost of this unique tasting will be $100.00 per person (Cash or Check) or $105.26 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Tuesday November 4, 2014. To reserve your spot for this four-week class, please contact Marlo Ammons at 832-660-0250 or MarloAmmons@specsonline.com.

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).

10/13/14 – Taste with Ch. LEOVILLE POYFERRE’s Anne Cuvelier at SPEC’s on Smith Street

AnneCuvelierOn Monday, October 13, at 6:30pm, please join me (Bear Dalton) in welcoming Anne Cuvelier of the Cuvelier family, owners of Ch. Leoville Poyferre and Ch. Moulin Riche in St. Julien and Ch. Le Crock in St. Estephe. Anne will guide us through a tasting of six of her family’s wines including:
Ch. Leoville Poyferre 2011, 2010, and 2006
Ch. Moulin Riche 2007
Pavillon de Poyferre 2010 (the second wine of both Ch. Leoville Poferre and Ch. Moulin Riche)
Ch. Le Crock 2008

When: Monday, October 13th at 6:30pm
Where: The Second Floor meeting rooms at Spec’s on Smith Street
Cost: a $10 donation to the Houston Area Women’s Center (in cash or check only please)
RSVP: to MarloAmmons@specsonline.com or 832-660-0250. Limited to 60 guests.

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).

About WENDY
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).