Explorer Pack #6: Bordeaux
The Bordeaux winegrowing region encompasses over 50 different appellations and 8,000+ chateaux producing a wide range of white, red and rose wine fashioned from less than ten grape varietals. The Atlantic ocean influenced climate of the zone provides relatively reliable growing seasons which typically feature cool Spring temperatures followed by warm, moderately wet Summers, with the overall success of the vintage dependent on dry, mild conditions during harvest in mid to late September. The primary varietals (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc) are planted throughout the new world and it is difficult to understate the influence of the winemaking practices of Bordeaux on younger winegrowing regions such as Napa Valley, Maipo Valley (Chile) and Mendoza (Argentina). This month we explore six examples from Bordeaux in an attempt to illuminate a few of the many sides of the region. At $150 per six-pack, June’s explorer pack is a great way to begin your Bordeaux research.
2020 Château Ducasse
Chateau Ducasse is but one of several properties managed by Herve Dubourdieu in and around the appellations of Graves and Sauternes located in the southern portion of the left bank of the Garonne river. The 2020 Blanc is composed of 60% Semillon, 35% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Muscadelle sourced from 45 year-old vines planted in clay and limestone. Each vintage this bottling marries the rich, waxy texture of Semillon with the flinty, mineral character of Sauvignon creating a balanced, refreshing drink.
2020 Château la Rame
Chateau la Rame produces a small quantity of Rose from 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot sourced from a small parcel of young vines nearby Sainte Croix du Mont (an area more well known for sweet wines). The 2020 opens with bright, ripe strawberry aromas and a hint of dusty stone. The palate is broad and generous, and possesses tangy finishing acidity,keeping the wine in balance.
2010 Château Puygueraud
Francs – Côtes de Bordeaux Rouge
The Thienpont family acquired Chateau Puygueraud in 1946 and Nicolas Thienpont has handled the winemaking here since 1983. Composed of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec, the fruit for the 2010 vintage was harvested between September 14th and September 29th with the Cabernet Franc portion picked last. Puygueraud is aged for 12-16 months in small French oak with 33% of the barrels renewed each year. Ripe, supple and bearing the plummy stamp of Merlot alongside the nervy, red fruit of Cabernet Franc, this perfectly mature wine showcases the longevity and value of reds from the lesser known areas of Bordeaux.
2016 Château Cambon la Pelouse
Located just to the east of the famous Medoc communes of Margaux and Paulliac, the Haut-Medoc is home to some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon-based values in Bordeaux. Cambon la Pelouse is produced from 35 year-old vines of Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (35%), Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot (15%) located between the properties of Giscours (Margaux) and Cantemerle (Haut-Medoc). Featuring a silky texture and forward ripe fruit, this is a bottling to enjoy now and over the next 2-3 years.
2008 Château Lilian Ladouys
2008 marked one of the most successful vintages in many years at the Cru Bourgeois Lilian Ladouys, due in no small part to significant investments in the vineyards and winery. The 200 acres employed for this bottling are farmed organically and split between 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. The 2008 is perfectly mature aromatically with pronounced cedar and tobacco notes. Round and pliant, the palate emphasizes red currant fruit flavors.
2016 Château la Fleur Bouard
Lalande de Pomerol Rouge
The sandy, clay soils of la Fleur Bouard are located in Lalande de Pomerol and are planted to 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. This modern styled Bordeaux is fermented in new oak barrel before being briefly transferred to neutral vat and finally finished in 80% new French oak for 18-24 months. The ripeness and concentration of the 2016 vintage perfectly suited the house winemaking style, yielding a distinctly aromatic, powerfully constructed Bordeaux which is a treat to enjoy now in it’s exuberant youth.