Here comes the fun part of the Bordeaux series—tasting! Putting all that knowledge from the previous four posts into palate-perspective. If you haven’t read through the France Overview, Bordeaux Overview, the Left Bank, and Right Bank articles, definitely do before diving in.
Alright, ready for this amazingness? (Yes, yes you are…)
Chateau Reynon Blanc 2018 (100% Sauvignon Blanc)
About the Wine: From the winery: “Château Reynon is located in Béguey, near Cadillac, on a hillside on the right bank of the Garonne, facing south. Part of the vineyard also occupies, in the neighboring town of Laroque, magnificent slopes facing south-east and the old limestone terrace of a small tributary of the Garonne, the Œuille.”
The 28 hectares of vineyards consist of deep clays with gravelly topsoils on the hillside locations. The area is planted to 43% Merlot, 34.5% Sauvignon Blanc, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, and 0.5% Sémillon. The average age of the vineyard is 23 years.
This Sauvignon Blanc was fermented and aged in combination stainless steel tanks and used oak for 5 months.
Appearance: pale lemon
Aroma: Medium (+) intensity showcasing both primary and secondary characteristics: blossom, jasmine, lemon, lime, peach, apricot, nectarine, melon, pineapple, bell pepper and just a hint of something toasty.
Palate: The wine is dry with high acidity, medium level of alcohol, medium body, and an overall medium (+) flavor intensity, again speaking to both primary and secondary characteristics. Those characteristics confirm the nose of the wine, though I did note that the citrus (lemon/lime) notes were more prominent on the palate than initially suspected on the nose. The finish was just medium in length.
Conclusion: I concluded that the Chateau Reynon Blanc 2018 is of good quality. The high acidity keeps the fresh fruits alive from start to finish. Indeed, it is the primary fruit flavors that take center stage with their medium (+) intensity. I struggled with whether to call this wine “complex:” the primary fruits, they do span the spectrum from citrus notes of lemon and lime, through to stone fruits of peach and apricot, and even enter the tropical category with notes of pineapple and melon. That, in itself, can some complexity in the wine and there there were very subtle hint of secondary aromas and flavors in the ways of toast. However, the finish was simply medium with those primary fruits dying off sooner than I expected or would have liked. Thus, I could not rate the wine any higher than very good and because I questioned the complexity of the wine, I ultimately concluded that this Sauvignon Blanc is of good quality and no higher.
I do not believe that this wine will benefit from age. The nature of the fruits is such that, while the acidity is enough to ‘hold’ the wine for maybe a few short years, they will not develop into anything meaningful with extended aging. Further, the finish, which was simply a medium length (with those beautiful primary fruits dropping off and away sooner than I would have liked) also indicates to me that this wine does not have the structure nor the strength to survive the test of time.
More Info: Price: $15.99 (wine.com)
Chateau Ferran Blanc 2018
About the Wine: The Chateau Ferran Blanc 2018 is a blend consisting of 80% Sauvignon Blanc grapes and 20% Semillon grapes harvested from the Château Ferran estate vineyards in the Pessac-Leognan AOC in Bordeaux. The Sauvignon Blanc underwent a short skin maceration and the Semillon was whole-cluster pressed prior to barrel fermentation and maturation. The wine aged sur lies in barrique with regular battonage for 9 months.
Appearance: pale lemon
Aroma: medium (+) intensity showcasing both primary and secondary characteristics: blossom, elderflower, honeysuckle, jasmine, lemon, lime, apricot, white nectarine, mango, mint, wet stones, biscuit, pastry, toasted bread, cream, vanilla, and cloves.
Palate: This is a dry white wine with medium (+0 acidity, medium level of alcohol, a medium body, and medium (+) flavor intensity that, again, confirms that notes written above. I will say that the stone fruits (apricot and mango) came through a bit stronger for me on the palate than initially perceived on the nose, as did the kind of “wet stone minerality.”
Conclusion: I’ve concluded that the Chateau Ferran Blanc 2018 is of outstanding quality. The gentle use of ML, as indicated by the creamy notes, bring the total acidity down to that medium (+) level, so it’s less searing, but still powerful enough to keep the fresh primary fruit flavors alive from start to long, lingering finish—a lingering finish that sings of a combination of both those citrus and stone fruits. There’s further complexity added with the gentle use of oak and lees aging, evident on both the nose and the palate with those toasty/biscuity notes (lees aging) and those vanilla and clove notes (barrel use). Additionally, there is a very long finish, as noted. For this beautiful balance, well-integrated winemaking techniques, and the powerful aromas and flavors that showcase that winemaking along with that lovely long finish, I marked this wine as outstanding in quality
I do believe this wine is suitable for further aging in bottle. The structure of the wine lends itself to the possibility of bottle agin, due to the phenolic integration, high acidity, and gentle use of oxygen exposure during aging. Further that long finish shows me that there is a potential for age-ability. Looking at the nature of the fruits, I do believe they can evolve over time, transitioning to honeyed tones, marmalade, and dried expressions of those fruit flavors.
More Info: Price: $23.99 (wine.com)
Chateau Larroque Bordeaux Superieur 2015
About the Wine: The Chateau Larroque Bordeaux Superieur 2015 is a blend of 51% Merlot and 49% Cabernet Sauvignon. Grapes underwent a pre-fermentation cold maceration for 24 to 48 hours. Alcoholic fermentation took place in thermo-regulated stainless steel vats at around 26° C and then were pressed at about 3 weeks at 30° C. Press and free-run juices were kept separate. Malolactic fermentation took place thermo-regulated stainless steel vats at around 18° C.
Appearance: Deep ruby (almost garnet around the outer-most perimeter)
Aroma: Medium intensity showcasing primary and secondary aromas: black currant, blackberry, black cherry, black plum, prune, tomato leaf, fennel, and licorice, charred wood, chocolate, and a slight hint of bell pepper
Palate: This is a dry red wine with a medium (+) level of acidity, medium tannins that are unripe, kind of stalky in nature. The alcohol is medium, the body is medium, and the flavor intensity, too, is medium, confirming all notes of the aroma characteristics, though the capsicum scent was one that was evident more so on the palate than on the initial nose. The finish was medium in length.
Conclusion: Overall, I concluded that the Chateau Larroque Bordeaux Superieur 2015 is of acceptable quality. The aromatic and flavor intensity are lacking, and one really has to search for the fruit flavors amidst the dominating notes of oak and the stalky, chalky—almost green and vegetative—tannins. Though those tannins are at a medium level, they are quite forceful in nature, overpowering the majority of the fruits. The wine does have an interesting balance of fruit to vegetative notes, when one can find them, and there’s no denying that with the barrel aging, there was some complexity to the winemaking and resulting wine. However, I am arguing that due to the lack of aromatic and flavor intensity, this wine has become out of balance. And due to that lack of balance, that lack of intensity, the disappointing medium finish, this wine cannot qualify any higher than acceptable in quality.
I do not believe that this wine is suitable for further aging. Knowing it is a 2015, already five years old, I’m arguing that most of the fruit is already lost, perceived acidity is low, and there’s nothing structurally that will hold this wine together for any longer.
More Info: Price: $16.99 (wine.com)
Chateau Cruzeau 2016, St-Emilion Grande Cru
About the Wine: The Chateau Cruzeau 2016 is a blend of 85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc
Appearance: deep ruby
Aroma: pronounced aromas that showcase primary, secondary, and even some tertiary notes: rose, violet, red currant, raspberry jam, strawberry jam, black cherry, black plum, cassis, tomato leaf, dried tobacco, vanilla, clove, smoke, prune, leather, meat
Palate: This is a dry red wine with medium (+) acidity, high tannins, and fine-grained tannins that dissipate slowly but completely during the course of the tasting. The alcohol is high, the body full, and the flavor intensity is pronounced, confirming all aromatic characteristics—but I will note that it was those tertiary characteristics (smoke, prune, leather, meat) that presented themselves more prominently on the palate than on the nose. The finish is long.
Conclusion: I’ve concluded that the Chateau Cruzeau 2016 is of outstanding quality. The aromatic intensity immediately speaks to primary, secondary, and tertiary flavors. The acidity is high enough to keep the primary fruits (red currant, raspberry jam, strawberry jam, black cherry, black plum, cassis) up front and center from start to finish—though the nature of the fruits vary from fresh to cooked/stewed/jammy and even dried. There’s a well-integrated use of oak here that complements these flavors with spice tones of vanilla, clove, and smoke. The tannins, though high and mouth-coating, are fine-grained, and slowly and completely dissipate through the course of the tasting. The finish is long, lingering, filled with all these aromas and flavors. I could not fault this wine and thus have marked it as outstanding in quality.
Additionally, I do believe that this wine is suitable for further aging in bottle. It has a high enough level of acid, tannin, and alcohol to structurally withstand the test of time. But even more importantly, the fact that there is still freshness to those fruit flavors means they have room to grow, to evolve, overtime.
More Info: Price: $24.99 (wine.com)
Chateau Doisy Daëne Grand Cru Classé, Barsac 2016
About the Wine: Chateau Doisy Daëne Grand Cru Classé, Barsac 2016 is made from 100% Semillon grapes—all hand-harvested and sorted. Fermentation took place in barrels, with each individual lot separated. The wine was blended 3 months post harvest and then aged for 12 months in barrel before release.
Appearance: deep amber
Aroma: pronounced aromas that are predominantly of tertiary characteristics: bruised apple, lemon and lime zest and pith, dried apricot, dried pineapple, pastry, yogurt, cream, vanilla, baking spices, marmalade, ginger, nutmeg, honey, caramel
Palate: This is a sweet wine with high acidity, high alcohol, and a full body with pronounced flavor intensity that do confirm the aromas listed above. There is a long finish.
Conclusion: I’ve concluded that the Chateau Doisy Daëne Grand Cru Classé, Barsac 2016 is of outstanding quality. There is a high level acidity, which does well to cut through the sweetness of the wine. There are still notes of fresh primary fruit notes, such as the lemon/lime zest and pith, along with the bruised (but fresh) apple that complement the tertiary notes of marmalade, ginger, nutmeg, honey, and caramel. And the intensity of all of these notes are quite pronounced. I can tell that there’s complexity to this wine with the well-integrated use of oak, ML, and lees aging as noted by the pastry, yogurt, cream, vanilla, and baking spices.
I do think that this wine is suitable for further bottle aging. As noted, there is still some freshness to some of those fruits, which means further evolution is possible. It has the structural composition to withstand the test of time, with its higher acidity, high alcohol, and phenolic integration as well as the oak and oxygen utilized during winemaking. Also, I just want to point out, I’ve had this bottle open for over 3 months now, and it still tastes delicious—if that’s not a test of time, I don’t know what is.
More Info: Received as a sample for a previous tasting course.
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