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WTN: 3 2001 Bordeaux


geo t.
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It was another gathering of the charter members of the Gang of Pour; Lowell Boileau, Scott Tobias, Kim Adams and this taster convened at Gang Central to taste three late model Bordeaux that I’d found at the local Costco at good prices. We got things started with some pink stuff that didn’t seem to go over all that well.

2002 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rose, $22.99, 11 – 14% alc.: Salmon pink, with a dusty watermelon nose, this follows through and fleshes out in the flavors, gaining some strawberry over a moderately earthy base. It’s not bright fruit here, but I like it for what it has to show, with medium intensity, fairly low acidity and a so – so finish, where Scott and Lowell commented on a Vaseline ® petrolium – like element. Our two guests weren’t much taken with this, while I always find something to enjoy with these. Kim commented that it “needs a hot summer day on the beach and a good chill,” but in fact, we both quite enjoyed a glass on the following day, when it seemed to have perked up some. Different strokes…

With that, we moved on the clarets, which had all been decanted an hour before hand.

2001 Château Cantemerle Haut – Medoc, $18.99, 12.5% alc.: A coffee – like essence comes across immediately on the nose of this dark garnet, causing Lowell to exclaim, “Rich coffee; I’ve never smelled anything like this before!” Kim added an impression of “…bacon… fabulous, huge nose!” The flavors echo, with youthful, hard black currant and cassis character, along with what Lowell described as “raw chocolate, bittersweet, like molé.” It goes well with some nice Spanish “Drunken Goat” cheese, and despite some serious tannins, opens nicely with air, except for the finish, which really dramatizes the tight young nature of the wine. Give this at least five years in the cellar, but there’s no reason to think that it isn’t a 10 year wine and more.

2001 Château Haut – Bages Liberal Pauillac, $18.99, 12.5% alc.: With his first whiff of this deep dark garnet, Lowell exclaimed, “I can tell this is better already!” And indeed, it’s all about sweet, refined cassis, black currant, blackberry and chocolate flavors and aromas, with a pretty kiss of restrained oak. Silky, dry and delicious, it also shows a certain woody aspect, from older barrels, perhaps? Elements of tobacco leaf and fine leather emerge as it opens, and it becomes ultra – smooth, almost luxurious in texture; it wears its elegant veneer so well, with the substance to back it up, definitely being a step or two up from the Cantemerle. Although drinking pretty well for so young a Pauillac, it will certainly benefit from seven to twelve years of cellaring.

2001 Château Carruades de Lafite Pauillac, $29.99, 12.5% alc.: An almost inky garnet, with a stingy nose of woody black currant and cassis that carry over and expand in the flavors. Silky, yet tight, this doesn’t show the same kind of opulence as the Haut – Bages Liberal at first, but it opens to show a reserved, refined elegance of its own, and a classic, traditional Bordeaux character. Notes of plum, dry leather and a hint of chocolate emerge with air, and the “woody” aspect shows more as well, but it’s not corked; again, I wonder if it might not be from the use of older barrels. I bought two more of these, and based on this taste, I won’t open one until 2011, to see how it’s coming along.

Château Cantemerle Haut – Medoc, Château Haut – Bages Liberal Pauillac and Château Carruades de Lafite Pauillac are imported by Wine Warehouse, Los Angeles, CA

It was fun tasting these strapping young clarets (all three went quite well with brown rice, seaweed and dirty hot dogs), and of course, it’s always good to get together with Lowell and Scott. Initially, the consensus seemed to favor the Haut – Bages Liberal, but Mr. Boileau found that coffee – like aspect of the Cantemerle most intriguing, and ultimately named that as his favorite of the evening. Interestingly, our friendly neighborhood Costco ran out of the Haut – Bages Liberal very quickly, so I couldn’t pick up a few more of those, which would have been my obvious first choice.

Reporting from Day-twah,

geo t.

George Heritier aka geo t.

The Gang of Pour

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“Rich coffee; I’ve never smelled anything like this before!”

I think coffee is a fairly common aroma in young Bordeaux. I've found it in many different wines, up to 5 or 6 years of age, very rarely beyond that. I've always assumed it was an oak derived characteristic.

Haut Bages Liberal and Cantemerle are two great value properties which I've drunk/tasted several vintages of. Carruades can be great too. I can't help wishing I'd been there. There's little I enjoy more than being able to assess wines in their youth, rather on relying on the opinions of others all the time.

Costco ran out of the Haut – Bages Liberal very quickly

What a shame Costco in the UK don't stock the same wealth of young Bordeaux that they seem to do in the US. They can be a good source here, but generally odds and ends of slightly older vintages. The most recent Bordeaux I can remember picking up were Gloria 2000 and Talbot 1996.

Chris

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