Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Featured Wines: Smart Bordeaux

If the wine in this week's Featured Wines column tickle your fancy, you can order them directly from Jordan by email (JCarrier@everythingwine.ca) or find him in the Vintage Room of Everything Wine's newest location River District in South Vancouver (8570 River District Crossing).

Smart Bordeaux

It’s Bordeaux season, which means that soon collectors all across the province will spend a perfectly good Saturday morning (that they could have spent playing Mario Kart) lining up outside government stores to get their one-bottle rations of Classified Growth, Tickle-Me-Elmo style.
Pshaw. We at Everything Wine are celebrating the near-perfect 2016 vintage by releasing absolutely stellar Bordeaux wines from lesser-known houses that provide just as much awesome without requiring a credit check. We call it Smart Bordeaux 2016, because these are indisputably better value, and also drinking them will make you smarter.* Most of these – just like the more famous labels – need sleepytimes before their windows open (buying new Bordeaux is like buying half-baked loaves of garlic bread, you have to do the rest yourself), but nevertheless we will pour a few of ‘em this Saturday at 3pm in the River District Vintage Room, if stocks hold. To the juice:

Chateau Fonréaud Cru Bourgeois 2016 Listrac-Médoc
In the 12th century, Eleanor of Aquitaine and her husband Henry Plantagenet II (showbiz names: King and Queen of England) drank from a natural spring on this property, which became known as the Royal Fountain, or “Font-Réal”. Over time, “Font-Réal” evolved into “Fonréaud”, and today the Chanfreau family farms this, the highest vineyard in Médoc, and crushes the grapes in the Chateau they built there in 1855. Although easily 5 years out from go-time, there is already an unsinkable core of intense fruit on the nose, with shades of mocha, cocoa powder and full body before a spicy finish with elegant, citrus rind astringency. 92 points Wine Enthusiast, 18 bottles available, $49.99 +tax
Chateau Cambon La Pelouse Cru Bourgeois 2016 Haut-Médoc
Every year 166 Cru Bourgeois submit to a jury of 35 experts to decide the vintage’s Best Cru Bourgeois. There are 12 finalists but only one winner, and this year that winner was Ch Cambon La Pelouse 2016, an Haut-Médoc estate on the border of Margaux, sandwiched between Ch Giscours and Ch Cantemerle and owned by Ch Angelus. Half/Half Cab/Merlot with 4% Petit Verdot smushed in there somewhere, there are notes of mint, ripe dark fruit and hay, but this baby doesn’t even know words yet. This is a Cellar Star, rather inscrutable now but singing in 10 years, it’s built like a Predator Drone. Future You says thanks. 93 points Wine Enthusiast (Editors Choice), WINNER – Cru Bourgeois Competition 2019, 22 bottles available, $54.99 +tax
Chateau Paloumey Cru Bourgeois 2016 Haut-Médoc
Paloumey, situated in the warmer southern end of Medoc, was a Hot Tamale in the early 1800s, close to Bordeaux city and so popular with the locals it was praised in the second edition of “Bordeaux and its Wines” published by Féret in 1868. Phylloxera and two world wars took their economic toll, however, and the estate’s owners abandoned it in 1950, leaving the vineyard to become a popular hot spot for rabbits and deer for 40 years (I expect the new patrons called it Chateau Munch Munch Munch). Martine Cazeneuve bought what was left of the estate in 1990, renovated, replanted, and brought it up to Cru Bourgeois status in under a decade. This 2016 is an elegant, medium-weighted affair, with savoury notes balancing the juicy fruit (blackberry and plum) on nose and palate, with vanilla and tobacco notes closing the lid. Needs about 3 years, but so lovely. We’re pouring Paloumey on Saturday at 3pm. 93 points Wine Enthusiast, 22 bottles available, $49.99 +tax
Chateau Larrivaux 2016 Haut-Medoc
Part of the Tesseron family (Lafon-Rochet), Larrivaux sits at the doorstep of Saint-Estephe in the commune of Cissac, and accordingly has a smidge more Merlot than Cab, given the clay-rich soils there. Rich and chewy with robust tannins and a spicy, hot finish, with more citrus rind and sour cherries on the nose. Hints of violets, licorice and blackberry. Closer to the promised land than many others on this offer, but we’re still about a year away. Very yum, see for yourself when we pour Larrivaux this Saturday at 3pm92 points Wine Spectator, 92 poinrs James Suckling, 22 bottles available, $46.99 +tax

Chateaux Saintayme 2016 Saint-Émillon
Denis Durantou owns and runs a few estates on Bordeaux’s Right Bank – notably the insanely hard to get Pomerol Ch L’Eglise Clinet - but this tiny  estate on the eastern edge of Saint-Émillon is by far the best value. Although he plants a smidge of Cabernet Franc on the property, this 2016 Saintayme is 100% Merlot from 35-year-old vines, and it’s bursting with black cherries and mocha with kirsch notes and crushed rocks. Quite rich, although we’re about 3 years away from Act One. 93 points James Suckling, 20 bottles available, $59.99 +tax
Chateau Le Doyenne 2016 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux
The sparse, largely forested Entre-Deux-Mers region is a kind of peninsula between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, thus between the Left and Right bank. Although one of the first areas in Bordeaux to plant vines – back in the times of Julius Caesar – the modern age hasn’t embraced the area, largely relegated to bulk wines and party hooch, except…. The Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux AOP has been wresting quality out of the ancient river deposits of sandstone and clay along its southern bank, producing rich, Merlot-based wines with medium structure and great approachability. Doyenne has farmed this shore since 1781, and this 2016 is teeming with blueberries in violet skirts, with soft tannins and immediate drinkability. Try this on Saturday as well92 points Robert Parker, 22 bottles available, $42.99 +tax

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