An Infrequent Encounter with Bordeaux

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The World Atlas of Wine describes it as the “largest fine-wine district on earth,” and while we make a big deal in the wine world about the link between geography and flavor, in Bordeaux the Atlas notes that “no where else in the wine world is the link between geography and finance so evident.”

Bordeaux is certainly the most famous wine region on earth, having captivated everyone from poets to politicians for centuries. But for many wine lovers, especially Americans, it remains one of the most difficult wine regions to understand and enjoy.

The Cabernet and Merlot dominated wines of the region have long been benchmarks for the grape variety, but if your first taste of these varieties came from California, chances are that the more savory and tannic renditions from Bordeaux might seem fierce and unforgiving. While the region’s wines have become more approachable over the past few decades, thanks to the influence of Robert Parker and global warming, among other factors, they are still often built around an acid and tannic profile that seems austere compared to the plush ripeness of California wines. The wines of Bordeaux are still made to age, which means they can be very tight and narrow-seeming in their youth.

Bordeaux’s accessibility also suffers from its sheer size and the dizzying number of producers, appellations and hierarchical classifications of which wine drinkers must make some sense as they begin to explore. The lack of varietal labeling adds to the difficulties in remembering what is what for anyone weaned on bottles that clearly display the name of a grape.

Nonetheless, once upon a time, it was relatively easy for an intrepid wine drinker to attempt an understanding of the regions wines simply by purchasing bottles at their local fine wine merchant. As recently as 25 years ago, buying top-quality Bordeaux was still within the reach of a middle-class lifestyle. This is sadly no longer true. Even the second growths have become so prohibitively expensive that they practically make more sense as investment vehicles than beverages to drink with dinner.

The financial realities of the Bordeaux market mean that the opportunities to taste top wines are all but non-existent for most wine lovers. Even the chance to taste well-aged versions of lesser wines now comes at such a premium that most young American wine enthusiasts mature into savvy wine drinkers these days without really having experienced or understood Bordeaux.

And of course, that’s saying nothing about Bordeaux’s brand image, which remains, well… stuffy. Bordeaux is the land of immense Chateaux owned by the wealthy elite, to whom one must apply in order to visit their meticulously groomed estates.

While I personally can still remember in my very early days of exploring wine paying roughly $50 for Pontet-Canet, a Grand Cru from the Pauillac appellation, my own experiences with Bordeaux as a burgeoning wine geek 20 years ago were largely marked by the difficulties I describe above.

Having now tasted many of Bordeaux’s top wines in their youth and across many decades of age, I feel like I have a general sense of the wines and the region, though I’m far from being truly competent.

My problem is that I just don’t want to be competent. Bordeaux doesn’t excite me nearly as much as other wine regions. I think this lack of enthusiasm stems from both the wines themselves and their pricey inaccessibility. I like a well-aged Bordeaux just fine, but even the finest of the wines, those that I would rate at 9.5 or higher on my rating scale, don’t send a thrill through my bones in the same way that say, older Burgundy does. I’ve stood side-by-side with knowledgeable Bordeaux lovers, tasting Cos d’Estournel (one of my favorite estates) back into the 1960s and, despite thoroughly enjoying the wines, have not swooned to near the extent as have my companions.

Perhaps it simply may be that the flavors of Bordeaux just aren’t among my favorites, and thus I don’t seek them out. In search of a robust red wine, I’m much more likely to pick up a Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Bandol than a Bordeaux.

Despite this fact, I do enjoy reminding myself what good Bordeaux tastes like, and so when a group of estates came to San Francisco recently under the banner of Tour des Deux Rives (Tour of the Two Riverbanks), I dropped in to walk around the tasting with a number of other members of the press and trade. My notes on the wines I tasted are grouped together below.

THE LEFT BANK

Bordeaux as a region surrounds the confluence of two rivers, the Dordogne and the Garonne, which flow together into the estuary of Gironde (as seen in the satellite photo above) before exiting to the Atlantic ocean on the west coast of France. The region has traditionally been divided into the Left Bank, or all the wine regions to the left (west and south) of the Garonne river, and the Right Bank, or all the wine regions to the right (north and east) of the Dordogne river.

Of the two areas, the Left Bank holds more, and more storied, appellations. It begins near the sea with the large appellation known as the Medoc that tracks south along the Garonne River encompassing the well known sub-appellations of Saint-Estephe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien and Margaux (collectively known as the Haut-Medoc), followed by the appellations of Pessac-Leognan, Graves, and finally Sauternes as you move south of the City of Bordeaux.

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A view of the city of Bordeaux on the banks of the Garonne river.

The land on the Left Bank varies considerably from North to south, but generally features well drained, gravelly soils with some clay. The Gironde estuary helps regulate temperatures and the Atlantic influence is tempered by coastal forests, leading to relatively mild winters and warm summers.

ST-ESTEPHE
The northernmost (and most downstream) appellation of the Haut-Medoc, St-Estephe has heavier, more clay-influenced soils than the other appellations further south, leading to more water retention, a handy trait in hot, dry summers. While it is difficult to generalize, especially in an age of ambitious winemaking, the wines of St-Estephe have a reputation for being more robust and brawny than their southern cousins. The best wines of the region are often found to be made on those parcels that have a higher proportion of the gravelly soils that mark the best plots of the more famous appellations such as Margaux and Pauillac.

ch_de_pez_label.jpg2009 Chateau de Pez Bordeaux Blend, Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux, France
Medium to dark garnet in the glass with a hint of brick beginning to show, this wine smells of cassis, truffles and pencil shavings. In the mouth, bright cherry fruit is still vibrant, with notes of cedar, pencil shavings and tight, muscular tannins wrapped around the core of fruit. Citrus notes linger in the finish with dried herbs. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Aged in 40% new oak, with the balance being split between 1st and second use barrels. Unfiltered. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $65. click to buy.

ch_haut_beausejour.jpg2015 Chateau Haut-Beauséjour Bordeaux Blend, Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux, France
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry, dried herbs and dried flowers. In the mouth, bright cherry fruit is tart and tightly wedged in a fist of fine-grained tannins. Excellent acidity and length. Aged in 40% new oak. The blend is higher in Merlot than most other estates in the region. Score: around 9. Cost: $40. click to buy.

PAUILLAC
The superstar sub-appellation of the Medoc, Pauillac plays host to three of the five so-called “First Growths,” that were classed as Premiere Grand Cru during the 1855 classification of the region that largely cemented the hierarchy (and pricing) of wineries ever since. Marked by pockets of deep river gravel, washed down from millennia of flooding, the soils are about as perfect as can be for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, which finds its apotheosis in many of the vaunted and ridiculously expensive wines that call this appellation home.

ch_mouton_rothschild_14.jpg2010 Chateau Mouton Rothschild “Le Petite Mouton” Bordeaux Blend, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and oak. In the mouth, tight, drying tannins instantly coat the mouth and seem to squeeze flavors of cherry, cedar and pencil lead. Good acidity and length. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. This is the estate’s second label. Score: around 9. Cost: $229. click to buy.

2010 Chateau Mouton Rothschild Bordeaux Blend, Pauillac Premiere Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France
Medium to dark ruby in the glass with some garnet highlights, this wine smells of dried flowers, cedar and pencil lead. In the mouth, juicy cherry still predominates, backed by cedar and graphite wrapped tightly in a suede blanket of tannins that are smooth and very well integrated into the wine. Extremely long finish and excellent balance and poise. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Average vine age of 44 years. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $999. click to buy.

2014 Chateau Mouton Rothschild Bordeaux Blend, Pauillac Premiere Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells gamey, with cherry and floral notes backing up the meaty notes. In the mouth, cedar, iodine, cherry and some bright citrus notes are juicy and linger even as a muscular fist of tannins closes onto the wine, powdery and fine. Still too young. Give it 5 to 10 years. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Average vine age of 44 years. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $529. click to buy.

ch_darmailhac.jpg2012 Chateau d’Armailhac Bordeaux Blend, Pauillac Cinquième Cru, Bordeaux, France
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells berry bright with black cherry and boysenberry aromas. In the mouth, cassis and black cherry fruit is boisterous with juicy acidity and wrapped in cloud of powdery tannins. Missing some depth but still tasty. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Average vine age of 46 years with some plantings exceeding 100 years old. Score: around 9. Cost: $50. click to buy.

2010 Chateau d’Armailhac Bordeaux Blend, Pauillac Cinquième Cru, Bordeaux, France Medium
garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cedar and forest floor. In the mouth, citrusy notes of cedar, dried cherry and herbs mix prettily with decent acidity. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Average vine age of 46 years with some plantings exceeding 100 years old. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $85. click to buy.

ch_clerc_milon.jpg2009 Chateau Clerc Milon “Pastourelle” Bordeaux Blend, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry, cedar and graphite. In the mouth, cherry, cedar and forest floor aromas swirl and bounce with excellent acidity. Light, tacky tannins. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $55. click to buy.

2012 Chateau Clerc Milon Bordeaux Blend, Pauillac Cinquième Cru, Bordeaux, France
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine has an extremely strong graphite aroma backed by cherry fruit. In the mouth, the wine is juicy and smooth, with cherry, cedar and spice box flavors. Very pretty citrus notes linger in the finish. The tannins are powdery and fine grained, coating the mouth and lingering with the cedar and citrus in the finish. Tasty. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carmenere. Average vine age is 53 years old. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $150. click to buy.

2010 Chateau Clerc Milon Bordeaux Blend, Pauillac Cinquième Cru, Bordeaux, France
Medium garnet in the glass, but headed towards ruby, this wine smells of wet chalkboard, dried flowers and turned earth. In the mouth, cherry and citrus flavors have a beautiful brightness to them thanks to excellent acidity and a surprising purity given the earthiness of the nose. Muscular tannins still have a lot of strength but don’t overpower the fruit. Delicious. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carmenere. Average vine age is 53 years old. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $100. click to buy.

ch_pichon_comtesse.jpg2011 Chateau Pichon Longeueville Comtesse de Lalande “Reserve de la Comtesse” Bordeaux Blend, Pauillac Deuxième Cru, Bordeaux, France
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of pencil lead and darker cherry and plum fruit. In the mouth, black cherry and cedar flavors are wrapped in sandpaper-like tannins that compete with a very silky texture to the wine and wrap the fruit tightly. Cola nut lingers on the finish. Great acidity. Quite complex and delicious. Mostly a blend of Cabernet and Merlot. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $65. click to buy.

2011 Chateau Pichon Longeueville Comtesse de Lalande Bordeaux Blend, Pauillac Deuxième Cru, Bordeaux, France
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of wet chalkboard and earth, pencil shavings, cigar box and cocoa powder. In the mouth, juicy cherry and cedar flavors take on citrus notes and aromas of Pu-erh tea through the finish. Powdery, fine grained tannins. Excellent acidity and length. Mostly a blend of Cabernet and Merlot with an average vine age of 35 years. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $165. click to buy.

2010 Chateau Pichon Longeueville Comtesse de Lalande Bordeaux Blend, Pauillac Deuxième Cru, Bordeaux, France
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry fruit and cedar. In the mouth, the wine is exceedingly silky, almost creamy in texture with cherry, cedar, graphite and a hint of herbs. Wonderfully seamless with fine-grained tannins and excellent acidity, the wine has a citrus aroma that lingers through a very long finish. Outstanding. Mostly a blend of Cabernet and Merlot with an average vine age of 35 years. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $230. click to buy.

ST-JULIEN
While it may not be home to as many First Growths as Pauillac, St-Julien can boast the highest proportion of classed growths of any commune in the region. Its mix of clay and gravel is similar to Pauillac allowing the estates in this smallest of the famous four Medoc to produce wines of finesse and power.

ch_ducru_beaucaillou.jpg2010 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou “Croix du Beaucaillou” Bordeaux Blend, Saint-Julien Deuxième Cru, Bordeaux, France
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of pencil lead, cassis, dried herbs and cedar. In the mouth, tight powdery tannins offer a cloud through which flavors of cedar and hints of citrus emerge. Juicy with excellent acidity and a long finish. A blend of roughly 80% Cabernet and 20% Merlot. Croix du Beaucaillou is a single-vineyard site, rather than a “second wine” from the Chateau. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $70. click to buy.

2015 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou Bordeaux Blend, Saint-Julien Deuxième Cru, Bordeaux, France
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells earthy, with notes of cigar box and miso paste. In the mouth, it is tight and citrusy, with cherry and cedar and dried herb flavors. Somewhat stiff, with a bitter finish. Good acidity. A blend of roughly 80% Cabernet and 20% Merlot. Score: around 9. Cost: $185. click to buy.

1989 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou Bordeaux Blend, Saint-Julien Deuxième Cru, Bordeaux, France
Medium ruby in the glass headed towards brick, this wine smells of cedar and pencil shavings, leather and barnyard. In the mouth, cedar, leather and barnyard flavors mix with a touch of mushroom and citrus. Powdery tannins linger with the citrus and dried mushroom in the finish. A blend of roughly 80% Cabernet and 20% Merlot. Score: around 9. Cost: $280. click to buy.

ch_lalande_borie.jpg2014 Chateau Lalande-Borie Bordeaux Blend, Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, France
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cedar, graphite and berries. In the mouth, the fruit is bright and juicy with notes of cherry, cedar and with citrus lingering in the finish. Tight but not overpowering tannins. A blend of roughly 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.

PESSAC-LEOGNAN
Overlapping with the southern part of the city of Bordeaux, Pessac-Leognan (really a combination of the two appellations Pessac and Leognan) was made, and remains, famous thanks to Chateau Haut-Brion, perhaps the most historical estate in Bordeaux, and one whose owner is thought to be responsible for the concept of red Bordeaux wine in its modern form. Known for pine trees before wine, the region’s sandy, gravelly clay soils host at least as many trees as vines, but equally as many houses, as suburban sprawl continues to encroach on the region.

ch_haut_bailly.jpg2015 La Parde de Haut-Bailly Bordeaux Blend, Graves, Bordeaux, France
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine has a somewhat shy nose of red fruits and earth. In the mouth cherry fruit is wrapped in tight tannins and has a rather short character on the palate. Decent acidity. A rough blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $45 click to buy.

2011 Chateau Haut-Bailly Bordeaux Blend, Graves Grand Cru, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France
Dark garnet in the glass this wine smells of dark cassis and pencil shavings. In the mouth, dark cherry fruit has a tremendous citrus kick and is wrapped in putty like tannins that lay thick on the tongue. Cedar notes emerge over tine. A serious mouthful. A rough blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Score: around 9. Cost: $120. click to buy.

2010 Chateau Haut-Bailly Bordeaux Blend, Graves Grand Cru, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine has a citrusy floral aroma that is very charming. In the mouth, earthy notes mix with bright cherry and cedar amidst a gauzy haze of very fine-grained tannins. Great acidity makes the fruit quite juicy still. A rough blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Score: around 9. Cost: $180. click to buy.

SAUTERNES
The journey of many wine lovers is marked by two eras: the time before they’ve ever had a Sauternes, and the time after. Unlike the rest of Bordeaux, Sauternes and its neighbor Barsac focus on making primarily white, and generally sweet wines. These wines, made with grapes affected by the so-called Noble Rot, botrytis cinerea, are among the most exceptional and long lived dessert wines in the world. When the 1855 classification was made of the top wines in Bordeaux, Sauternes was the only appellation outside of the Medoc to be be classified, and its superstar estate, Chateau d’Yquem was given its own special rank of Premiere Cru Superieur, placing it effectively on the same playing field as the First Growths of the Medoc.

ch_d'yquem.png2016 Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes Blend, Sauternes Premier Cru Supérieur, Bordeaux, France
Pale gold in the glass this wine smells of honeysuckle and apricot. In the mouth, the wine is voluminous and cloud-like, its characteristic mouth-filling cloud of silky texture delivering flavors of orange blossom, honeysuckle, and white peaches with incredible acidity and finesse. Moderately to very sweet, and stunning. A blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $400. click to buy.

2005 Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes Blend, Sauternes Premier Cru Supérieur, Bordeaux, France
Medium gold in the glass, with aromas of apricot and orange peel, this wine tastes of orange marmalade, honey, and white flowers. Silky and bright and very sweet, with hints of dried citrus in the finish. A blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $330. click to buy.

2017 Chateau d’Yquem “Y” Sauternes Blend, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France
Near colorless in the glass with a faint greenish gold tinge, this wine smells of passionfruit and white flowers. In the mouth, explosively bright passionfruit and green apple flavors have a crystalline purity and electric resonance thanks to outstanding acidity, with little trace of botrytis influenced flavors. A light sweetness pervades the wine which combined with the mouthwatering acidity makes for an utterly gulpable, delicious elixir of floral freshness. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $175. click to buy.

THE RIGHT BANK

The French refer to this region as the Libornais, after the town of Libourne which has long governed the region surrounding the Eastern bank of the Dordogne river. It has many sub-regions ranging from the famous Pomerol and St-Emilion, to the much less well known appellations of Canon-Fronsac or Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux. The soils of the Right Bank will often contain a lower proportion of gravels in their clay than the Left Bank, but unlike the Left Bank, the soils can also include primary rock, especially in the limestone inflected region of St-Emilion. Unlike the mostly flat Medoc region, the right bank also gives way to more hills, resulting in vineyards with different slopes and sun orientations.

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A view of St-Emilion, the UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Right Bank.

POMEROL
A wide, flat gravel bed mixed with clay, not unlike many of the best growing regions in Bordeaux, Pomerol lacks one thing that clearly marks the other top appellations of Bordeaux: big Chateaux. Instead of massive gated estates, Pomerol is mostly just a bunch of vineyards interspersed with houses and a small church or two. Left out of the famous 1855 classification, Pomerol is the place where the superstar vineyards of Petrus and Le Pin sit alongside names few have ever heard of. Merlot finds one of its greatest expressions on the soils of Pomerol, along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

ch_hosanna.jpg2008 Chateau Hosanna Bordeaux Blend, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France Medium
ruby in the glass with a very mature orange at the rim, this wine smells of licorice and dried flowers. In the mouth, juicy cherry and plum flavors mix with cedar notes. Incredibly silky and gorgeously textured, with fine-grained tannins and a minutes-long finish. Delicate and outstanding. A blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $200. click to buy.

2014 Chateau Hosanna Bordeaux Blend, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells slightly gamey, with slightly sappy floral and cherry aromas. In the mouth, that sappiness continues with sour cherry and plum and dried herb flavors transitioning to a meaty, olive-like savoriness. Fine tannins float in a haze through the wine and coat the mouth. Good acidity and length. A blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $180. click to buy.

ch_certan_de_may.jpg2011 Chateau Certain de May Bordeaux Blend, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of barnyard, cherry and earth. In the mouth, rich, powdery and mouth-coating tannins are the first impression, followed by leather and barnyard flavors that suggest a modicum of brett? Herbs and earth and dark fruit give the wine a powerful aspect. Despite the funkiness, this is an appealing wine. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: around 9. Cost: $130. click to buy.

2010 Chateau Certain de May Bordeaux Blend, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cedar, earth and meat. In the mouth, rich mouth-coating tannins surround cherry and cedar flavors that modulate towards citrus in the finish. The tannins become dusty and fill every nook and cranny of the mouth. Good acidity. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $210. click to buy.

ch_bourgneuf.jpg2009 Chateau Bourgneuf Bordeaux Blend, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
A cloudy, very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells gamey, with earth and mushroom leading the cherry fruit aromas. In the mouth, the wine is rich and dark with cherry, black cherry and earth flavors tinged by a hint of sweetness. Juicy with excellent acidity. 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Score: around 9. Cost: $80. click to buy.

ch_lafleur_gazin.jpg2008 Chateau Lafleur-Gazin Bordeaux Blend, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and cedar. In the mouth, cherry, cedar, licorice, and cola flavors are dusted with faint tannins. Excellent acidity. Notes of dried flowers linger in the finish. Mostly Merlot, with about 20% Cabernet Franc. Score: around 9. Cost: $60. click to buy.

ch_de_sales.jpeg2009 Chateau de Sales Bordeaux Blend, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of…my notes read quite clearly: funky leather. In the mouth, flavors of cherry and old socks definitely have a funky aspect to them, but don’t let that keep you from trying this wine, which has appealing characteristics, if only because the bright fruit wins in any contest with the funk. A blend of roughly 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $60. click to buy.

ST-EMILION
Situated on something of an plateau above the Dordogne, St-Emilion is somewhat unique in the world of Bordeaux, both for its limestone slopes and the fact that it has a (much contested and litigated) classification of its own, in which hundreds of Grand Crus exist alongside 18 First Growths and 64 Second Growths. This large growing region has little urban structure outside of the picturesque village of St-Emilion, a UNESCO World Heritage site. St-Emilion is where the garagistes movement truly began — small producers making super expensive, modern-style wines that captured the attention and pocketbook of collectors worldwide, at least for a time.

ch_magdelaine.jpg2006 Chateau Magdelaine Bordeaux Blend, Saint-Émilion Premiere Grand Cru Classe, Bordeaux, France
Medium ruby with brick highlights at the rim, this wine smells of dried flowers and mushrooms. In the mouth, red apple skin, and dried cherries are ethereal and silky across the palate as extremely bright acidity elevates citrus notes and dried herbs in the finish. Very pretty and vibrant. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $80. click to buy.

ch_puy_blanquet.jpg2009 Chateau Puy-Blanquet Bordeaux Blend, Bordeaux, France
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells grapey and cherry-like. In the mouth, that grapey character continues with cherry notes and tight tannins. Smooth but somewhat undeveloped. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $50. click to buy.

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Well, there you have it. A brief tasting tour through Bordeaux, which was a nice refresher for me personally on the charms of the region, and the jaw-dropping pricing of some of the wines. Of course, there’s a lot more to Bordeaux than just its most famous appellations, but I’m afraid I’m not qualified to be a guide in those regions yet. I hope to have the opportunity to update my knowledge of the so-called Cru Bourgeois in time.