2015 Wines: A Very Good Year for Bordeaux
by Dr. Elinor Garely, editor in chief of wines.travel
Thank you, Mother Nature.
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2015 is a very good year for the wines of Bordeaux. This is the year fruit rose to stardom and tannins and acidity realized important supporting roles. August rains and cool nights brought balance to the crop after several weeks of drought in the early summer.
Location, Location, Location
The Bordeaux region is equidistant between the North Pole and the equator. The 45th parallel appears to offer an ecosystem that is noted as being ideal for the over 6 thousand winegrowing estates in this geographical area.
Cabernets and Merlots hold the leading roles for red wines (over 90 percent of wines produced), while Sauvignon and Semillon are the headliners for dry and sweet whites.
Vine to Wine: Checking In
On a very cold, damp, and otherwise horrible afternoon in Manhattan, swirling and sipping the wines of 2015 Bordeaux at Cipriani’s 42nd Street converted bank building appeared to be a perfect way to spend this precious (and dismal) mid-week afternoon. As a Cathedral of Commerce, the former Bowery Building (built in 1921 by architects Edward York and Philip Sawyer) offers guests a step back in history, grandly showcasing Italian Renaissance design complete with marble columns, 65-ft high ceilings, old world chandeliers along with stone carved figures and motifs that symbolize money.
Cheese and More Cheese
It is never a good idea to drink wine on an empty stomach – so the first stop for wine aficionados started at the buffet table that offered the hundreds of wine industry professionals a cheese assortment, alongside olives, fruits, vegetables, bread sticks and rolls.
The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux
Hundreds of wine industry leaders found their way to crowded tables to sample wines from Graves, Pessac Leognan, St. Emilion Grand Cru, Pomerol, Listrac-Medoc, Moulis-en-Medoc, Haut-Medoc, Medoc, Margaux, St. Julien, Pauillac, St. Estephe, and Sauternes et Barsac.
1. Chateau Villemaurine Rouge. 2015. 80 percent Merlot, 20 percent Cabernet-Franc
In the 7th century the Villemaurine name is found at a Moors camp at a site originally termed Ville Maure. It is also the locale where Emilion, a monk, settled in the 8th century. In the 17th century, Villemaurine was transferred to Antoine Limouzin – the first Clerk in the port of Libourne. Prior to the French Revolution, the estate was in the hands of Jean Combret de Faurie who also owned Chateau Soutard. By the end of the mid-18th century there was an established vineyard and the owners stopped farming all other crops. At the beginning of the 19th century, Jacques Combret de Milon inherited the estate and then it was acquired by to Jean Laveau. The estate continued to change ownership throughout the 19th century. By 1874, the “Feret” (Bordeaux wine directory) mentioned Villemaurine as a “Saint Emilion First Growth.” In 1893 the parcels were joined into one vineyard by Raoul Passemard and received acclaim at the Bordeaux International Exhibition. At that time, Chateau Villemaurine was referred to as one of the best Saint-Emilion “First Growths” and won awards at various international events. In 2007 the Chateau was purchased by Justin Onclin who recently brought Hubert de Bouard of Chateau Angelus to the winery as a consultant.
Chateau Villemaurine includes 30 acres in the heart of the Saint-Emilion limestone plateau. The fruit is fermented in double-walled stainless-steel vats for approximately 20-25 days; malolactic fermentation takes place in French oak barrels for 16-18 months, (70-90 percent in new oak and the rest in second-fill barrels) and bottled at the estate for 18-20 months.
Deep ruby red to the eye and a wave of sour cherries and young strawberries tempered by a whiff of green fir trees pleasures the nose. Rich in soft tannins that are enhanced by wood and earth, tobacco and leather offersexciting taste adventures. Complex, impeccably balanced, long delicious lush finish encourages a reach and pour for the next glass.
2. Chateau Giscours. Crus de Margaux. Appellation. Bordeaux, commune Labarde. 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 32 percent Merlot, 5 percent Cabernet Franc and 3 percent Petit Verdot.
Classified as one of the 14 Troisiemes Crus (Third Growths) in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. The terroir includes deep gravels from the Garonne River and sand from the Ice Age. The vines range in age: from 4-10 years – 15 percent; 10-25 years – 50 percent and 25 years – 33 percent; handpicked followed by hand-sorting. Vinification: Concrete and stainless steel tanks. Aged in 100 percent French oak barrels (fine grain and medium toast). Ageing time: 15-18 months. Racking: every 3 months with candle Fining –with egg white albumen.
The President of the Chateau is Eric Albada Jelgersma and General Manager is Alexander van Beek. The Consulting oenologist is Denis Duborudieu.
Dense and deep maroon to the eye with a bouquet to the nose that is rich and powerful sending flashes of light fresh cherries, strawberries, leather, pipe tobacco, oak and leather with a hint of bananas to the palate. This complex wine offers layers of soft tannins, deep cherries, and oak barrels that lead to a long and delicious finish.
3. Chateau La Lagune. Haut Medoc 65 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 30 percent Merlot and 5 percent Petit Verdot
Chateau LaLagune dates back to the 16th century, during the reign of King Henri IV. At this point in history, Dutch engineers initiated the modern age for Bordeaux by draining the water from the marshes and swamps. The Chateaux was built in 1715 by Baron Victor Louis (who also designed the Grand Theater of Bordeaux). The LaLagune Chateau’s fame started in the mid-18th century and was owned by the de Seze family for many generations.
The vineyards uses 100 percent organic farming techniques, having earned their certification with the 2016 vintage. The wine is fermented in 72 different, temperature controlled, stainless steel vats to allow for parcel -by- parcel vinification. Malolactic fermentation takes place in vat and the wine is blended before the aging process is started. The wine is aged between 50-60 percent in new French oak barrels for 18 months before bottling.
The eye appeal trends from deep garnet to light coral pink. A mélange of fruits delivers ripe black cherries blended with fresh sweet tobacco, leather, earth and roasting chestnuts that rewards the palate. The perfectly balanced finish conjures up images of après-skiing, huge roaring fires and cushy leather chairs.
4. Chateau Doisy Daene. Region/Appellation – Barsac; Country: Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux, France; Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
Located in Barsac, in the Sauternes appellation, this Chateau has been in the Dubourdieu family since the early 20th century, engaging three generations in the enterprise. The terroir of the Barsac plateau highlights a layer of clay sands (Barsac red sands) above a chalky subsoil. The cracked calcareous rock layer limits the rooting depth of the vine to approximately 20 inches. The water is stored within the slightly porous rock throughout the summer and dispensed to the vine during the winter, preventing too much water. The soil nurtures the making of elegant and distinguished white wines. Fermented in barrels.
Viticulture: traditional ploughing with no weed killer introduced. Organic manures are made with vegetal-based composts. Bud removal, trellising and leaf removal are done by hand. To balance the carbon footprint, a forest area equal in size to the vineyards is maintained.
Lordy, Lordy, this is a delicious wine. Think of bright yellow apples and you can imagine the hues of this wine. The nose does a “happy dance,” inhaling honey, honey suckle, a Monet blend of citrus with grapefruit, lemon and lime highlights with flashes of bananas. Soft and seductive on the palate, delivering lush blends of citrus and honey-buttered bread. A drop of acidity takes it from sweet to striking.
5. Chateau Suduiraut Premier Cru Classe en 1885. Sauvignon Blanc -94 percent, Semillon – 6 percent. This Suduiraut delivers 123 grams per liter of residual sugar and 4.56 grams per liter of acidity.
It may be hard to accept, but it is ROT that makes Sauterne so very extraordinary. The vineyards of Sauterne and Barsac make the areas around the Garonne and Ciron rivers their resting points. In the early autumn The Garonne is warm and when the cool spring-fed water of the Ciron feeds into it the temperature differences create an evening mist. In this case fog is a good thing as it creates the ideal conditions for Botrytis cinerea, Noble Rot.
Here again, MOLD is a good thing because it is vital to Sauterne. The Noble Rot creates tiny holes in the grape skins and the water inside evaporates and concentrates the juice. The mold chemically alters the juice, usually Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, adding to the complexity and aroma. The mold is not a one – off so the best chateaux harvest multiple times and may even go through the vineyard selecting berry by berry.
Success is determined by the sweetness of the wine plus its liveliness that is dependent upon acidity and spice plus a mélange of flavors that includes tobacco, mint, oak, orange, saffron and jasmine brought together in honeyed ecstasy.
Chateau Suduiraut dates back to the mid-16th century in Satuerne. In the 17th century Count Blaise de Suduiraut hired the designer of the gardens of Versailles to plan the grounds, lakes and greenery of Chateau Suduiraut. Currently the estate is owned by the French insurance company AXA who also holds Chateau Pichon Baron in Pauillac and Chateau Petit Village in Pomerol.
Golden to the eye, with lemons, limes, honey, bananas, kiwi, apricots, pears mixed with sunshine softly delivered to the nose. Look out for an OMG palate experience that carries botrytis spice and rich vivid fresh lemons and limes mixed with honey to the palate leaving a sweet but not saccharin finish that suggests juicy golden yellow raisins.
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© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.