Thu. Jan 17th, 2019

Bordeaux to Close 2018

I was at a Christmas Party recently and my host with the fancy wine cellar pulled me aside and said he was happily drifting from California Cabernet Sauvignons to Red Bordeaux. Why? It was because he was finding them a bit softer and more “elegant”. I had recently recommended some case purchases of Bordeaux to have him beef up his fledging cellar. It seemed as if my recommendations kicked him off his California Cabernet Sauvignon can.
Bordeaux at its best is elegant and discrete when it comes to its red wines. Sure they have good red fruit in them but it does not punch you in the face like so many Aussie reds. And there are still many low-cost Bordeaux reds available some of them with a bit of age under their belt.
To finish our reviews of Bordeaux reds this year we can go to a recent LCBO Vintages release for a Les Hauts de Palette from the Côtes de Bordeaux area seen by savvy Bordeaux shoppers as a bargain centre!
It has a light black cherry colour. On the nose rich black cherry, cherry liqueur, beets and blackberry. On the palate very mild tannins. On the palate the wine coats the palate with gentle notes of blackberry and black cherry. A bit brackish and diffuse on the palate. A passable Bordeaux. Short on the finish and with about as much character as one could expect from a cheap table wine. A disappointment. Now we could be a bit more polite and call this a “light and fruity” Bordeaux. Being perhaps a bit more honest the air is out of the tires on this one.
A Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc blend.
As this is a Chateau owned by Charles Yung & Fils is this a People’s Republic of China billionaire, of which there have been more of a few, snapping up Bordeaux vineyards for prestige conscious wine drinkers in the PRC?
(Château Les Hauts de Palette 2014, A.C. Côtes de Bordeaux, Les Hauts de Palette A Beguey, Gironde, France. $24.95, 13.5%, 750 mL, LCBO # 297267, Square Media Group Rating 85/100).
Well facing a bit of a disappointment, we can motor ahead to a Les Terasses de Saint-Christophe from Saint-Ėmilion Grand Cru. Black cherry in colour. On the nose rather discrete blackberry, black cherry and a bit of cassis.
On the palate hugely hidden black fruit. Blackberry, black cherry and cassis not shouting loudly at you but rather begging you to interpret them. My interpretation is discretion and modesty. However as all know modesty can hide true character.
Moderate tannins and a short finish. All said and done terribly drinkable now. I do not think this is terribly prone to ageing. Best consumed before the end of 2019. An entry level Bordeaux and nothing to stand up and cheer about.
I do not think this can stand up to beef but lamb yes. Overpriced. Another Chinese investor buying a less than pristine Bordeaux property to sell mediocre wine to the middle classes in China blinded by the name “Bordeaux”?
(Les Terrasses de Saint Christophe 2014, A.C. Saint-Ėmilion Grand Cru 2014, Karen Kwok, La Tour Saint-Christophe, Lieu-Dit Cassevert, Saint Christophe des Bardes, France, $34,95, LCBO #573436, 750 mL, 14%, Square Media Group Rating 88 /100).
The next Bordeaux is a Chateau du Retout from Haut-Médoc. Black cherry in colour. On the nose full of black cherry, blackberry, vanilla and plum. Extremely discrete and smooth! On the palate rather smooth with restrained tannins. Blasting through with restrained black fruit and an envelope of vanilla. Can I sum this up and say ultra cool and sophisticated? Short finish.
This wine says drink me as is or with lamb encrusted with herbs or a pesto sauce. This is from an ultra hot year. Drink by the end of 2019. A great example of the laid back and humble nature of a Bordeaux red.
(Chateau du Retout, A.C. Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois 2015, Vignobles KOPP, Cussac-Fort-Médoc, France, $?, 13.5%, 750 mL, LCBO # ?, Square Media Group Rating 91/100). In stock at my local LCBO but not on the LCBO system and LCBO cashier missed it on my receipt! I do remember it being in the low $20’s.).
The Chateau Pey La Tour 2015 is but a mere “Bordeaux Superieur”. On the nose a rather subdued if not sensual streak of blackberry, black cherry, cassis and cherry pie. On the palate the tannins are soft. Notes of smoke, charcoal, black cherry and a tad of saltiness. Relatively short finish.
I would say a typical lower cost Bordeaux not tripping over itself with any sort of faults but not expressing any brilliance. Just a tad of bitterness on the finish initially is a bit mysterious. The bitterness fades rather quickly after decanting. Decant for at least an hour. The esteemed James Suckling gave this wine 92 points.
Good with lamb and beef. 88% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petit Verdot.
(Chateau Pey La Tour Réserve du Château 2015, Bordeaux Superier, Vignobles Dourthe, Gironde, France, $21.95, 15%, 750 mL, LCBO # 349308, Square Media Group Rating 89/100).
Just because the wine is from Bordeaux do not assume quality. You can snatch up some excellent wines in the $25 range more than you can ever do from California but know thy producer!


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