Category Archives: Bordeaux

Bordeaux Standard 2004 Haut Médoc

Haut Médoc, Bordeaux, France
75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot; 12.5% ABV
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 17 Mar

2004_BdxStandard_HautMedocI was immediately repulsed by this shiny red and gold label, but, well, it was an older Haut Médoc, so I picked it up.  The back label in part reads: Served best in a Bordeaux glass which is tall with a wide bowl and is designed to release the aroma of the wine while directing it to the back of the mouth.  I figured that any producer who was being that particular about stemware might care about the quality of the wine as well.

There seemed to be not much to this wine until it had aired in a decanter for about 90 minutes.  Then some complexities of red fruits (red currant, cherry) and earth emerged in a pleasant but restrained way.  As it continued to air over the next two hours, the wine darkened to become dominated by flavors of plum, purple grape, a little raisin and a hint of pencil lead.  It’s a bit light-bodied for a Bordeaux, and didn’t really stand up to the (non-spicy) curried lamb and rice I made for dinner, and at times the flavors were slightly candy-like.  However, it’s definitely Bordeaux in a way that a lot of GO Bordeaux is not, so it’s decent stuff if you like that kind of thing.

At the Richmond store, there was also a Bordeaux Standard 2006 St. Émilion.  Has anyone tried either of these?


AW Direct Bordeaux: A Trio Taste-Off

Silverdale, WA    (Purchased on 1/10/14)

A little over a week ago, three somewhat similar looking Bordeaux showed up at my local GO.  They were all from the 2012 vintage, all had the same gold capsules, all had similarly colored labels with similar print and after opening, all had the same corks with a grape cluster and leaf printed on them as well as the number 58330.  They all had the same generic information on the back label, all were “Bottled and Cellared by Philippe Borlais” and all were imported by AW Direct.  Sorry…but I had to wonder if they were all the same wine in different labels with different prices.  So I decided to try them side-by-side.  I’m here to tell you that they’re all very different from one another…which is a good thing by my standards.  Here’s my report…

IMG_1383First is the 2012 Chateau Naudin  12.5% alc.  $4.99: Pours a clear pale garnet, but also shows some brick tone, which seems odd for such a young wine.  Has a peppery and slightly alcoholly nose.  Shows considerable fresh ground black pepper on the palate and the tannins are chewy and heavy…a bit out of balance with the fruit and acid components and on first sip it seemed slightly thin and watery.  Tastes more like a Rhone red than a Bordeaux.  Somewhat clunky and plodding due to the lengthy tannins.

IMG_1380Next is the 2012 Chateau La Carbonniere  13% alc.  $6.99  Clear medium garnet; nose of light cassis, leather and cocoa.  In the mouth it’s lush and smooth, but with decent tannins and balanced acidity; the flavors show more cocoa and leather with lots of grapey fruit, tobacco and a bit of smokiness.  Fairly big tannins in the finish.  Not a bad Bordeaux for seven bucks.

IMG_1384And last is the 2012 Chateau Marceau Launay  13% alc.  $7.99 Mostly clear medium garnet, but having some brick coloring as well.  Nose shows some dark cherry (Merlot, Right Bank?), earth and tobacco.  Fair amount of sweet oak, leather and tannin in the mouth with some green peppercorn.  The tannins really grab you in the finish.



They’re all very drinkable…not outstanding, but tasty…especially considering that I’ve had some real questionable Bordeaux from GO of late.  And they all went quite well with our rigatoni pasta with homemade pesto and smoked mozzerella sausage.  My favorite was the La Carbonniere with the Marceau Launay close behind and the Naudin last in line.  If you see these wines in your GO, give them a try and determine your favorite.  It would be a great time to have a few folks over for dinner.  That way you’re not drinking three bottles at once all by yourselves (wouldn’t that be horrible?)!  And you can have your own tasting.

2011 Chateau Du Pradier

Bordeaux, France
12.5% alc.
$6 at Kent, WA (purchased 11/8/13

2011_ChDuPradierI picked up a couple at the sale based on the 2009 Du Pradier that was quite good. What a difference the year makes. 2009 was an excellent year in Bordeaux, 2011 not so much. This wine is imported by A.W. Direct which we see a lot of at GO. The first bottle I opened was corked and I will be returning it, but I had a spare.

Garnet in color with a light nose of licorice, current, and blackberry. Light in body with fine tannins. Red currant, tobacco, and a touch of green pepper. Slightly bitter finish with not a lot of depth and the acid seemed out of balance. I don’t often use the term “thin”, but it seemed very appropriate here. This was disappointing considering the previous vintage. It had similar flavors, but just not enough stuffing for me. I tasted it again the next day and although it gained a little weight, it still didn’t do much for me. I will give this a drinkable, but not worth the calories.

Château Grand Lacaze 2009 “Cuvée Prestige” Médoc

Médoc, Bordeaux, France; 13% ABV
$9 (pre-sale price) at the Berkeley, CA, store on 6 Nov

2009_ChGrandLacaze_MedocI had hopes for this wine because it had a Médoc designation, and because it seemed to be selling well, at a slightly higher price for the GO, even before the sale.  However, it’s quite mediocre wine, pretty bad even.

Even after about 1.5 hours of air, it shows only fairly simple simple fruit of black currant and darker red cherry, with acid of red currant and a weird prune / vegetal flavor that made the finish rather repulsive.  I would say Drinkable at best, but especially for this price, it’ll be Thumbs Down.

2011 Alexis Lichene & Co Red Bordeaux, France $7.99

Silverdale, WA    12.5% alc.    (Purchased on 8/12/13)

IMG_1094Front label states it’s Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon.  First off, the wine is sealed with a short plastic cork—not a particularly good start (from Bordeaux where long, real corks generally rule).  In the glass, the wine is clear dark ruby.  Nose is a bit restrained, eventually showing dark cherry, plum and chocolate with very light oak.  In the mouth it’s soft on the front of the tongue, but showing decent tannins at mid-palate and reasonable acidity.  Flavors are more cherry and plum with bitter dark chocolate/cocoa and an earthy/woodiness in the finish.

Definitely a Right Bank blend, as it shows more cherryish Merlot fruit and little of the characteristic medicinal flavors I find in so many Left Bank Bordeaux.  Definitely a wine made for the American market.  While it’s quite drinkable, I can’t bring myself to give it a Thumbs Up…especially at this price point at GO.  After a day or two on the kitchen counter though, this wine may reveal more.

Lichene was a very important “character” in the Bordeaux wine industry for many years…especially as relates to his contribution to Bordeaux in America.  I remember reading a great deal about him in Wine Spectator years ago.  If you’d like to know a little more about him, read here.

2009 Château de Roques

Grand Vin de Bordeaux,  Puysseguin-St-Émilion, France
70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc; 14.5% ABV
$11 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 6 May

2009_ChdeRoquesThis label looked distinguished enough, and I’m a sucker for Cab Franc / Merlot blends, that I decided to go for this although it was only two days before the sale started.  I think that, at $11, it’s pretty good for the money but not an outstanding deal.

At first, the wine was on the red and more tart side.  To my taste, it needed about 80 minutes in a decanter to start coming around, and it was fully aired 30 minutes later.  Then, it showed flavors of sweeter red currant, red cherry, black currant, with perhaps a touch of blackberry / tar, and some dusty brown earth.  It’s on the lighter end of medium-bodied, and is in the vein of elegant and delicate rather than ripe and rich.  It would probably age fine for a few more years, becoming darker and showing more spiced earth.  At the sale price of $8.80, this is a good deal if you like this kind of thing.

2011 De Reyne Bordeaux

Bordeaux Controlée, France
60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc; 13% ABV
$7 at the Berkeley, CA store

2011_DeReyne_BordeauxOn the first night, this wine tastes of red currant with some medium purple plum and some earthy spice.  It’s better after an hour of air, but there’s still not much to it.  It’s reasonably well structured, so it’s likely it will be better after a couple more years of age.  I’ll give it the Thumbs Up because it’s decent wine, but it’s not all that pleasant right now.

I saved half the bottle in a 375ml bottle closed with a stopper with as little air as possible.  The next day, the wine darker and fruitier, with the plum and earth dominant.  It’s still a bit funky and will probably benefit from more age, I’d guess eventually becoming a reasonably elegant, if not very complex, wine.

At the Berkeley store, this wine and the 2011 La Loge Bordeaux had almost the same back labels, including the percentages of grapes, producer, importer, etc.  The only differences between them were the color of the labels and the name at the top, so I’d hazard a guess that these are actually the same wine in different packaging.  Like the 2010 La Loge, this wine had a composite cork that was unusually short, just under 1.5″.

2005 Chateau Greysac Red Bordeaux (Medoc), France $8.99

Silverdale, WA   13% alc.

Yet another of the Silverdale GO’s one-time-only distributor closeouts.

Almost equal parts Merlot and Cab Sauv with a bit of Cab Franc in the blend too.  Rather hazy medium garnet; some smoke, some earth, some red currant and some other tart red berry qualities in the nose; very soft and round on the front of the palate with light tannins and odd lemony qualities; flavors of cedar, cassis, damp earth and tart red berry; slightly washed out with very light tannins.  Bottom of the bottle indicates that it has thrown considerable sediment over time.

I don’t believe that this Greysac was one of the better vintages (although it appears that 2005 was a decent vintage in Bordeaux)…and I’ve had a few considerably better ones over the years.  It’s generally been a very dependable Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux.  Perhaps it was better a few years ago, but it’s clearly at or beyond it’s peak now.  At this price, I don’t consider this to be any special bargain, but there are plenty of fairly good reviews on CellarTracker.  I’ve seen it at regular retail for $15-$16.  There was still quite a bit on the shelf as of Saturday, 10/27.

2003 Baron de Beaulac Bordeaux Superieur

Bordeaux, France; 14% alc.
$3 at the San Pablo, CA store

The minimalist front label of the Baron de Beaulac may be one of the worst marketing blunders ever – is it even wine? This nondescript bottle was recommended by Robert Seeds, but I missed it at Oakland. After finding some at the San Pablo store, I moved it up in the queue based on his notes – glad I did.

At 14%, we know we’re looking at a ripe vintage in Bordeaux (thank you, Global Warming!. Pouring a thick, dark reddish-purple with just a hint of brick on the edge, swirling shows off its legs. The nose reveals some true Bordeaux character with a push into Napa-esque territory: ripe cassis, black cherry, and boysenberry fruit with strong notes of briary Merlot, hints of earth, and a touch of cedary, cigar-box Cabernet Franc; really nice. The palate is full and lush but with a decent amount of ripe acidity and smooth but somewhat sharp tannins and a lingering, satisfying, although slightly astringent finish. I wondered if it might round out a bit with more age, although it’s quite enjoyable for its plush fruit and deep aromatics right now.

An hour of air brought out some additional spice, leading to that almost mentholy perception, and the next day, it was jammier but slightly muted; by the third day, while still enjoyable, it had faded, the aromas seeming more washed out and the palate somewhat dumb; now the acidity seems too low and the tannins harsher. On second and third tastings, I think this wine is probably at or near its peak of enjoyment; drink soon, I’d say. A Big Thumbs Up for the QPR if you like this kind of wine as much as I do, although some Bordeaux purists might think it’s too fat (but hey, get used to more record-breaking vintages as we keep pumping CO2 into the atmosphere; it might be wise to invest in some vineyards in the UK in case California gets too hot for grapes…)

2010 Chateau Sabatey-Bellevue, Bordeaux, France $5.99

Silverdale, WA    13% alc.

Another AW Direct import.  Clear, very pretty purple/violet color; very fragrant and aromatic, floral nose of lilac and red cherries.  That’s where the romance ends.  While there is some light tannin on the palate, my overall feeling is that the wine is thin and washed-out, showing little body or substance; I find some nice flavors of cherry, anise and a bit of cedar and the acidity’s about right; it’s just a little too subtle for me; has a long, but slightly bitter finish too.