As a professional Wineau who attends numerous industry tastings (most especially to find amazing wines to share with YOU, Reader,) I use my fancy camera phone to snap pictures to illustrate these little stories of mine. It's a simple but necessary tool.
Sooooo... I was in the lobby of the illustrious Empire State Building when I realized: I didn't have my phone. Oh well, I'll figure something out, no biggie, I thought. Until I waltzed out into the space on the 61st floor and saw the amazing 360-degree view. Wowza.
When all was said and done, I regretted TWO things this day. 1) No proof of the birds'-eye view and the stunning scope of New York City laid out at my feet, and 2) that most of the wines didn't knock my socks off thereby distracting me from regret #1.
Let me say that these were not the Bordeaux from a millionaire's cellar, like the First Growths, even the Second and Third Growths, that are highly rated, globally lauded, cost oodles of money and are usually not even ready to drink for ten years after their release. These were more entry-level wines from one of the most storied wine regions in the world. I was hoping to find a ton of wines with a fantastic expression of the region at an affordable price point. Alas, that may have been too much to hope for.
The handful of whites I tasted (Sauvignon Blancs, some blended with Sémillon and maybe one or two other grapes) all had intoxicating noses. However, none of them lived up to the promise of the first whiff on the palate. None were bad - they were just... forgettable. I've had some lovely white Bordeaux in the past - I've even written about them here - but did not find any new faves today.
Many of the reds were fairly forgettable as well. To cultivate Bordeaux from a lower price-point, you can look in the outlying regional areas like Entre-Deux-Mers and the Côtes regions (like Côte de Blaye and Côte de Bourg) for values, and I've found many in the past. But you usually have to wade through a lot of wine that might be decent, but unimpressive.
Frequent readers know by now that the Minx tends toward the "A for Effort" review style - I love wine so much and respect the difficulty in the winemaking process so much that I go into it giving a handicap to anyone who has even managed to put a bottle in front of me. I'm sure I will gain a firmer harshness as I age and become all crotchety. So you probably notice that it is unusual for me to write with such a lack of enthusiasm.
There were a few wines that I did like very much. (PHEW, right?!) I mean, it's not a surprise that some producers will actually acheive a good level of success amidst their peers under similar circumstances.
So here are some wines that made the Minx very happy:
2009 Château Barrail Chevrol (~$15) This was one of the best values of the day. A blend of 86% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, it had a dusty, earthy nose, with big red and black fruits on the palate, and an earthy finish. The flavor components were balanced, as were the tannins; the Merlot added a nice soft roundness to the finish.
2009 Château Langoiran (~$18) 60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc: Nose of blueberries and cedar, soft and rich with nice fruit on the palate, pretty lush and quite balanced.
2009 Château de Malleret Le Baron de Malleret Cru Bourgeois (~$20) A rather soft nose, but the wine was spicy with a nice earthiness and wood intermingled with red fruit. Good weight in the mouth, nice balance and length.
2008 Château Prieur de Meyney (~$25) This is the second label of Château Meyney, a very solid St.-Estèphe producer. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, it had a soft, perfumey nose, with nice violet florals, licorice, and black berries. It was very lush and yummy.
2009 Château de Cruzeau (~$27) 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. Soft and round, drinking well now, nice red fruit, good weight, full mouthfeel, light tannins but a very good value for Bordeaux-lovers.
2008 Château Trimoulet (~$28) Another blend of the "usual suspects," Merlot, Cab Franc and Cab Sauv. Lush red fruit, very heady nose, lots of cassis! Black berries, bit of pepper, nice structure, drinkable now.
At the end of the day, the view was fantastic but now just a memory. And many of the wines are now just a memory, but some were pretty fantastic. In the end,
Non, rien de rien,
Je ne regrette rien!
If you are a Bordeaux fan trying to save a few bucks (or trying to simply find something you don't have to wait ten years to drink,) or someone new to drinking the wines of Bordeaux, these wines will surely satisfy! I did the weeding out so you don't have to, that's my (wonderful) job.