Bordeaux Tasting Reveals Affordable Gems

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sandwiched between the heralded 2005 and 2009 Bordeaux vintages lie three years I've bought very little of. Not so much because they're not good, but just because there's been so much positive hype about the '05s and '09s. A guy only has some much attention to devote to a region.

Vintage variation is a tricky thing for me on a number of levels. More experienced folks will tell you it's not a matter of good and bad - it's more a matter of appreciating vintage variation. Further, the way Bordeaux is priced, better vintages fetch higher prices. This is different than domestic wines and different from most regions. This presents an opportunity to pick up wines from quality producers in "off" vintages at a good price.

Bordeaux is a tricky thing to publicize and market. In one sense it's the noblest of wine regions, but in another I rarely find myself with a taste for Bordeaux on a weeknight - or even a weekend night for that matter. It's this quirky quandary - brand recognition many regions wish they had yet too fancy for many occasions and relegated to high holidays. Too much tradition for its own good?

Below high flying names costing $50 and up are Bordeaux Superieur wines costing $20 or less. As part of an live online tasting through TasteLive, Planet Bordeaux offered up five 2006-2008 Bordeaux to wine bloggers across the United States to get together online and concurrently share their thoughts.

Here are my notes:

2006 Chateau La Gatte La Butte
13.5% Alcohol

100% Merlot from old vines. Light magenta. Cherries and earth on the nose. A little Leuden's cough drop action. Earth too with undeniable Bordeaux markings. On first sip I get a twinge of acidity in my cheeks and even my ears. Comes together really nicely. Well balanced. Great start.
88+/100 WWP: Very Good

2008 Chateau Lugagnac
13% Alcohol

On the nose I get burnt earth, cocoa, some fruit. Grippy tannins. Surprisingly hot for only 13.5%. Needs some time to settle down, but still a pretty nice wine.
87/100 WWP: Very Good

2008 Chateau de Terrefort-Quancard
13% Alcohol

Tightly wound with tart cherry fruit and harsh tannins. Should improve with time but for now it's one of the more challenging wines in the lineup. 
84/100 Good

2007 Chateau de Parenchere Cuvee Raphel
13.5% Alcohol

Medium-full bodied with a really enticing nose. A nice combination of fruity and savory components. Velvety mouthfeel. Low-medium acidity. Doesn't beg for food the way the others do but I think it's versatile enough to play well in a lot of settings. My wine of the night. 
90/100 WWP: Outstanding

2008 Chateau Penin Tradition
13% Alcohol

Made in a soft, easy drinking style. Limited aromatically.
82/100 WWP: Good

My thanks to the folks from Planet Bordeaux for supporting wine bloggers with this tasting!

Samples for review.


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