Truth is, there's no such beastie, which is why you need to go to Bordeaux rather than Australia for a truly elegant, balanced Cabernet / Merlot blend (I know that doesn't make sense, but bear with me).
At this tasting, "Cabernet/Merlot blends of Aquitaine", we had eight such wines.
First up was the Tour de Mirambeau '05, bringing early news of the good things to come from what is said to be 'the vintage of the century'. Ever so fresh and fruity, light and easy to drink. If Georges Duboeuf uppped sticks and settled in Entre-Deux-Mers (where Mirambeau are based, although the wine is classed as AC Bordeaux, since Entre-Deux-Mers is a white wine appellation) he would likely be very pleased to make this sort of wine.
The Chateau Coucy '02, from a Saint Emilion satellite, seemed rather less complex than last year, and perhaps a little sweeter, but still very good value at £11.
Ch Troplong-Mondot '99, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, was very fine. A slightly sweet sandalwood perfume-y nose, just exactly as it should be, then on the palate a poised dry medium-bodied savoury red wine. For claret it is markedly stand-alone, as opposed to being a food wine.
l'Arrivet Haut-Brion '99 is a wonderful example of wine which expresses place. There is a distinct mineral stony element to the palate, just as one would hope for in a Pessac-Leognan.
Ch Brillette (bottle 2) ((bottle 1 was actually Ch Old Socks)) is a cracking bargain. £16 for a rounded, mellow, chocolate and plums style of claret. It's a mere Cru Bourgeois Superior, but that's only because the 1855 classification moves more slowly than Lord Kelvin's Pitch and Cork Experiment.
l'Ermitage de Chasse-Spleen (second wine of Ch Chasse-Spleen) was very well liked by most everyone else at the tasting, but I took against it because the wine had a whiff of brimstone or maybe cabbage when opened.
Wine #7 was tonight's shiny bauble: Ch Leoville-las-Cases, Saint-Julien 2eme Cru. Even with five hours of airing it remained dark and tight. I could find hints of the mocha and unlit cigar aromas that top notch Bordeaux can provide, but mainly the Little Genie was saying, 'let me sleep for another five years, or ten'. Perhaps I'll have made my million by then.
Tour de Pez, like Brillette, is a Cru Bourgeois which deserves higher ranking. Spicy and a little sour on the nose (but in a good way. Not volatile acidity or any such malarky), the palate seemed rather closed to me. not ready yet, or in need of lengthy decanting.
To sum up. l'Arrivet is the one to drink right now. If the France vs Australia tussle were a rugby match, then l'Arrivet is the Rooster the Gauls would release onto the pitch to strut about crowing, leaving the poor kangaroo hopping sadly in its wake, dropping oak staves from its pouch and dripping the juice of squished currants from its boxing gloves.
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