Category Archives: Bordeaux

La Croix St. Vincent 2015 Sauvignon (Blanc)

75% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Sémillon; 12% ABV
Bordeaux, France
imported by Max Beverage, South Pasadena, CA
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 22 May

I don’t remember seeing a white Bordeaux at the GO for some time, and the reds on this label, and from this importer in general, have been good, so I was excited to try this wine.  I found it tasty and so easily drinkable.

The nose is lovely, of yellow and green melon and gooseberries, with aromatic floral / musqué character.  On the palate, the body is light, giving the flavors – those in the nose plus some yellow grapefruit and green lime, minerality, slightly astringent bitterness on the finish – a nice delicateness.  For me, this went down way too easily, and we had no trouble finishing the whole bottle.  Highly Drinkable.

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Chateau Haut Pougnan 2014 Bordeaux

Bordeaux AOC, France
imported by Aquitane Wine USA, LLC
80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon; 12.5% ABV
$10 at the Richmond, CA, store on around 24 Feb

I believe I bought this after a couple customers recommended it.  I thought it was good but not especially remarkable.

I decanted the wine and left it alone for a couple hours.  The fruit became more accessible, showing earthy red cherry / redcurrant, darkening over time to include a little blackcurrant / blackberry.  It struck me as tasty Bordeaux, but nothing exceptional.

A number of days later, the saved, single-glass, screw-cap bottle showed its fruit a little more soft and sweet, and was much more immediately pleasant, but was otherwise much the same.

The gold-colored sticker says “Concours des Grands Vins de France a Macon, Medaille D’Or, 2015.”

Chateau Simon Carretey 2008 Sauternes

Sauternes AOC, Bordeaux, France; 13.5% ABV
imported by Halby Marketing, Inc., Sonoma, CA
$7 for 375ml at the Richmond, CA, store on 27 Feb

chsimoncarretey_2008_sauternesOn the nose and then on the palate, the wine shows full-flavored but delicately delineated honeysuckle, yellow pear / apple, pineapple, ripe Asian pear, very slight (if any?) botrytis, and ripe apricot.  This is not the most amazing Sauternes, but it is an outstanding bargain.  Like most such sweet wines, this could probably develop well for at least another ten years in good storage.

The next day, the flavors were much the same, with the flavors more delicate and “liquidy.”

Château de Bensse 2012 Médoc

Cru Bourgeois from the Médoc, Bordeaux, France
50% Cabernet (presumably Sauvignon), 50% Merlot; 13.5% ABV
$12 at the Richmond, CA, store on 17 Feb

chdebensse_2012_medocThis wine had intrigued me for a few reasons — it was designated from a specific region of Bordeaux, the Médoc, not just from Bordeaux; it was imported by Max Beverage, whose previous Bordeaux I’ve tasted have been quite good; and two customers, including a Frenchman, had recommended it — but I had been deterred by the high (by GO standards) price until yesterday.

I thought it was pretty good after being decanted for about an hour, showing elegant purplish dark red cherry fruit with subtle complexity of plum, in a structure that was tight but not punishing.  It continued to improve the next couple hours, darkening and becoming only slightly more accessible.  Around three hours after opening, some of the darker purple fruit did seem to soften up a little, but along with the structure breaking some, not just relaxing.  So far, I liked it, but I wasn’t impressed it was worth $12 at the GO.  I wanted to soften it up a bit more, so instead of storing the rest in a completely filled small bottle as usual, I just put the cork back in the top.

Expat reviewed, and very much liked, the 2011 Ch. de Bensse here.  (His taste tends toward the very dry, earthy, and tannic.)  Wine Advocate rates 2011 Left Bank (which includes Médoc) as 88, and 2012 as 87, not much different.

On the second and third days, the wine was about the same as on the first two days, never really opening up very much.  I suspect I would prefer this with a few more years of age, but some may enjoy it now with a bit of air.

Chateau Grand Marchand 2012 Bordeaux

Bordeaux, France; 13% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 24 Oct

chgrandmarchand_2012_bordeauxI thought this wine looked promising because it’s a few years old now, older than most Bordeaux we get, and the “88 points” sticker from the Wine Enthusiast.  (I’ve liked their online tasting notes.)  Indeed, I think this is pretty good for the price.

I thought the wine needed 1:40 of air in a decanter to relax and show its fruit, starting with a fairly simple earthy red cherry.  It continued to develop nicely until we finished off the first ¾ of the bottle, about 3 hours after opening.  Then, it showed complex dark fruits of ripe plum, cherry, mulberry / blackberry, purple grape, with typical Bordeaux brown earthiness, in a lighter medium body.

The saved, single-glass, screw-cap bottle still needed a bit of air, slowly developing along a similar path as the first part of the bottle, although the fruit didn’t seem to be as forthcoming.  I didn’t really give that glass long enough to air, but it did at least show that the wine will be fine the next day.

Chateau Haut Jongay 2012 Côtes de Bourg

Appellation Côtes de Bourg Contrôlée, close to Bordeaux, France
85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec; 13% ABV
Imported by Bercut – Vandervoort & Co, San Mateo, CA
$8 at the Richmond, CA, store on 22 March

ChHautJongay_2012_CotesDeBourgWhen this showed up, I was very intrigued by the blend, especially the 5% Malbec.  It’s a little on the pricey side for the GO, so I waited for the sale to get one, and finally opened it tonight.  I really like it!

To my taste, this wine took 3:15 – 3:45 of air to open up, and it kept improving from there.  I tasted black-earthy, blackberry / plum, thick tannins, hints of boysenberry, violets, and caramel / prune, and acid of light red cherry / cranberry.  For those who enjoy young wines, this is good now, but IMO this has plenty of promise for the years ahead.

Indeed, while the saved single-glass, screwcap bottle was still good, I didn’t really know what to make of it.  It had a lot of the same flavors as the first day’s portion, but my best guess is that the wine seemed a little shut down, never showing the exuberant fruit it had the first night.  It might be better to just leave any leftover wine in the original bottle with the cork in it, or to just cover the decanter.

A pleasant surprise from the current buyers has been the good Bordeaux and Bordeaux-area wines, the latter of which this wine and the Bel-Air 2013 Bergerac are excellent examples.  Now… how about Burgundy, Rhone, and Loire wines?  🙂

Chateau Beauséjour Les Maurins 2012 Saint-Émilion

Bordeaux, France; imported by AW Direct
70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc; 13% ABV
$12 at the Richmond, CA, store around 23 Nov

ChBeausejourLesMaurins_2012_StEmilionOn opening and for a while after, this wine showed only hints of its full self.  However, they were very pleasant aromatic hints, so if you like to “watch” a wine air, it would be fine along the way if you’re not eating strong foods.  IMO, it needed 2+ hours in a decanter to open up, showing elegant and tasty flavors of black cherry, purple plum / almost blackberry, riper red currant / cherry, black pepper, and a little herbs, tar, and coffee.  The body is rather light, but it does taste like St-Émilion, and its fresh fruit and lighter-weight but definite tannic finish seem to mean it will last for at least 2 or three years.  On the first night, my reaction is this is reasonably tasty wine for the price, especially if you are fond of this region of Bordeaux, but not an amazing discovery.

The next day, the saved single-glass screwcap bottle still needed a bit of air to show similar flavors, a lot more forward, better integrated, and less overtly complex.  I think about the same of it as I did on the first night: pretty good wine that tastes like it should, but not a great bargain for the price.

Saga 2011 Bordeaux

Bordeaux, France; xx.x% ABV
60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon
from Barons de Rothschild [Lafite]
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on about 21 Sept

Saga_2011_BordeauxThis wine was brought to us by the same company who made the lovely Las Huertas 2011 Cabernet, so I thought it was worth trying it for a dollar less.  (Besides the same name, note the same “sheaf of arrows” design at the top of the Las Huertas bottle as on this label.)  This wine is a bit young, and, so far, solid but not especially exciting.

On the first night, the wine needed about a couple hours to air as much as it was going to.  Then, it showed rather dull and hard blue fruit, with a tannic finish.  It was not bad, but I found it a little boring and unyielding.  It seemed to promise more the next day.

The saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle was at first redder but still rather hard and dull.  After about 90 minutes in the glass, it finally softened up to give earthy flavors of medium ripe red cherry, tart red currant, and a little dark cherry / blackcurrant (cassis), with a dusty, tannic finish.  While this is hardly an amazing wine, it would be pretty safe to buy some at this low price and have it as a casual drinking wine for the next 4 to 5 years, especially if you like the earthy, less ripe-fruited Bordeaux style.

Alexandre Sirech 2008 Le Bordeaux

65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon; 13% ABV
Bordeaux AOC, France
imported by USA Wine West, Sausalito, CA, for World Wine Headquarters
$5 at the Oakland, CA, store on 7 July

Sirech_2008_LeBordeauxAt first sip, this wine’s restrained earthy red fruit was immediately recognizable as Bordeaux.  It seemed reasonably promising, but unfortunately, on the first night, we drank it up before it could fully air.

A few nights later, the second half, kept in a 375ml screw cap bottle with very little air, was not especially exciting.  While it showed typical bing cherry and blackcurrant fruit, with funky, slightly stemmy, earth, the flavors were a bit simple and poorly integrated.  I found it rather boring.  It was probably better the first night, although never that great.

Bordeaux Standard 2006 Saint-Émilion

Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France
60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon; 12.5% ABV
$7 at the Oakland, CA, store on 2 April.  Likely not there now.  More at the Richmond store on 5 April.

BordeauxStandard_2006_SaintEmilionI bought this bottle because I thought the Bordeaux Standard 2004 Haut-Médoc was pretty good.  This Saint-Émilion is also pretty good.

Although it’s not saying that much, the Saint-Émilion is heavier and richer than the Haut-Médoc, but it strikes me as less complex.  After about 1:40 of air in a decanter, this wine shows softly textured cherry and blackcurrant fruit with some slightly funky brown earth and a hint of green bell pepper.  I’m not that wild about it, but as with the HM, it’s real Bordeaux in a way that a lot of GO Bordeaux is not.  If you’re into that, this is reasonably priced, nicely aged wine.