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.

Wine of the Week: Ch. PUYGUERAUD, Cotes de Francs, 2010

Ch. Puygueraud has been on my go-to Bordeaux list for as long as I have had a go-to list. It is well grown and well made under the direction of one of the right bank’s best estate managers – Nicolas Thienpont. It tastes like what it is and where it’s from and there is no hint of over-manipulation or over-extraction or over-pricing. Instead, Ch. Puygueraud is solid and reliable and comforting all the while serving as a reference standard for right bank reds in a certain price range. If the appellation were fancier, the wine – exactly as it is – would sell for a lot more.

The chateau and its vineyards are located on the eastern edge of the Cotes de Francs (a Right Bank appellation which is itself located on the eastern edge the whole of Bordeaux). The soils are clay over limestone. Everything is done right but there is no fussiness.

Puygueraud2010Ch. PUYGUERAUD, Cotes de Francs, 2010 ($21.84)
A 14.5% alcohol blend of 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Malbec fermented using pump-over in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged 14 months in French oak barrels (40% new). Deep purple in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium plus phenolics. Juicy, lively, mostly black fruit with a limestone terroir note; supple dusty oak and accents of black pepper, black flowers, red flowers, cocoa, and dark spice. Long finish, fresh, alive-in-the-mouth, complete. It might repay some keeping (3 or so more years) but why would you? It is delicious now. BS: 91.