Up to this time, we have primarily enjoyed wines from
California, Washington and Oregon. (See our favorites.)
Recently, in order to broaden our horizons, I asked Ralph
Sands at K&L Wines in Redwood City
to put together a starter case or two of French Bordeaux as a way to get
familiarized with the wines of the region. Ralph is the Bordeaux specialist on
staff. I provided Ralph with the following guidelines:
Can you suggest a sample cellar selection with a cross-section of Bordeaux.
My intent is to form the foundation of a cellar that would form the basis for
drinking over the next 1-5 years -- or even longer.
Approximately two cases in total.
Generally speaking, 2-4 bottles of each wine in order to allow for tasting
at least twice during this period. Exceptions allowed if you want to break
Average price should come in between $25-30 per bottle. This should allow
for some flexibility to mix some higher-priced choices with less expensive
choices. The lower end is better for my bank account but not at the risk of
bypassing something that we really should try for the experience.
We have no particular interest in any single vintage.
In general, I'm looking for wines with character but not necessarily with
really heavy tannins.
Should be in stock now or very soon (within 1 month or so).
After a few days, Ralph came back with an interesting
cross-section of wines that meet our criteria that he thought that we should try.
In retrospect, the average price point that we suggested was not really too challenging but it did allow him to indulge
us with a range that extended from fairly inexpensive wines that were ready to
drink now together with a handful of more expensive choices that we could easily
cellar for a few years. Here is the list together
with his comments (almost verbatim) on each of his choices. After we give
the wines a chance to catch their breath after shipping, we'll update this page with
our thoughts on how well his selections worked for us.
Pontet Canet, Pauillac
Best wine made at Pontet Canet since 1961.
Meyney, St. Estephe
1995 vintage at a good price. This Meyney is a little
softer than usual.
Reserve de Comtesse, Pauillac
Second wine of Pichon Lalande. Second wines are a good
way to get exposure to the great chateau. Also, good to contrast with the
1996 Pichon Lalande.
"Poor man's Ch. Mouton." Dark, serious wine
with lots of fruit.
Les Forts de Latour, Pauillac
A "more classic" wine than the 1995. Powerful
and will be tannic in its youth.
Fiefs de Lagrange, St Julien
Second wine of Lagrange. Good way to get exposure to the
Good, everyday Bordeaux. Should be chunky compared
to the Arnauld. Tasted 10/2000 against the la Fleur St Georges. Very
tannic with mineral notes.
Arnauld, Haut Medoc
Good, everyday Bordeaux. Should be elegant compared to the Greysac.
Tasted 3/2001. More mineral notes than we expected. A surprise.
St. Georges, St Emilion
Satellite of St. Emilion. Primarily merlot. Good drinking
La Bessane, Margaux
Satellite of Margaux. Primarily merlot. Textbook
smoothness and balance. Tasted 6/2001. Smooth and elegant wine.
Vieux Fortin, St Emilion
New chateau, producing since 1989. Located on the line
between Pomerol and St. Emilion. Good fruit.
Haut Bailly, Pessac-Leognan
From the Graves region, this chateau is an older style of
Bordeaux. Not heavily extracted and not too oaky. Interesting to compare
with the Smith Haut-Lafite.
Smith Haut-Lafite, Pessac-Leognan
This chateau recently changed ownership and has resulted
newer style of wines. Dark purple, lots of fruit. Good contrast with
Pichon Lalande, Pauillac
Very elegant, classic Bordeaux with high proportion of
Merlot. Should be decanted.
Cos d'Estournel, St. Estephe
Typically a big wine, the 1997 can be drunk now.
Decanting probably needed.
Beaumont, Haut Medoc
Good, everyday Bordeaux that should be ready to drink now.
In our follow-up discussion with Ralph, we dropped the
Beaumont and increased to the quantity of a couple of the choices above. We also
decided to add several wines from Pomerol to ensure that we had a something from
the right Bank.
La Croix du Casse
Very rich and from a good year. Just reaching maturity
La Fleur St. Georges, Lalande de Pomerol
This wine, from a satellite of Pomerol, represents a good
value. Tasted 10/2000 against the Greysac. Smoother, more powerful than
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