2002 Château Puy-Arnaud-Maureze Côte de Castillon Bordeaux France. 13% alcohol; 95% Merlot; Cabernet Franc 5%. Andrea Robinson Wine Club, $19.00.
Deep red color, deep hue, restrained aromas of red fruits, spice, smoke and meaty notes, very good red fruit flavors, hints of smoke, chocolate, and spice, some earthen notes, good tannins but a sharp acidity which softened over time, a bit out of balance now, medium mouth feel, medium finish with fruit and smoke notes. Janet hated it -- "too sharp". 3*.
Andrea Robinson: Yes - it’s a bit of a mouthful as you have a) the estate – Chateau Puy Arnaud Maureze, owned by Jean-Marie Maureze, manager of Napa Valley’s famous Dominus estate; and b) the appellation – Cotes de Castillon (coat duh cas-tee-YOHN). It is an appellation east of the famous St. Emilion district that produces the world’s most famous Merlot-based wines, Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Ausone. Because of the scarcity and cost of St. Emilion vineyards, the Cotes de Castillon has begun to emerge as Bordeaux’s new frontier, with many famous chateau owners from the classical regions buying property there. This wine will give you some insight as to what they’re excited about. If you are not familiar with the best of “right bank Bordeaux” character, this wine will give you a sense of the style in more elegant vintages, as was 2002. Specifically, there is a delicious and lively core of cherry fruit and sense of toasted coffee, smoke, and rare roast beef. It cries out to be served with a meat dish, or a mild but rich cheese such as Manchego.
The artiste behind this Bordeaux value is a man named Jean-Luc Thunevin, who became famous as one of the original “garagistes” or garage-wine vintners that have really shaken up the Bordeaux establishment. He and his wife Murielle literally set up shop in their garage, vinifying 2 acres of wrong-side-of-the-tracks ard on which they lavished loving care. The resulting wine, named Valandraud, achieved cult critics’ scores and, very quickly, cult prices due to the tiny quantity. As a consultant Thunevin looks after the Maureze property with similar attention to detail. The wine is 100% Merlot and only 15% of it sees new oak barrels, 60% one-year-old barrels and the rest neutral casks. I believe it will cellar well for 5+ years.
MUSTARD-CRUSTED LAMB CHOPS Serves 4-5
1 cup panko or other dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for searing
3 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
Freshly ground black pepper
20 baby lamb chops, Frenched
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, mustard, olive oil, rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper to make a coating that mounds and stays together when pressed into the spoon. Set aside. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat on medium high. Meanwhile, salt and pepper the lamb chops on all sides. When the oil is hot, sear the chops on all sides until brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Be careful not to crowd the pan and, if necessary, sear the chops in batches, adding more oil as needed between batches. Remove the chops to a baking sheet. Press a scant tablespoonful of the breadcrumb mixture atop each chop and press with your fingers to adhere it. Place the chops in the oven and bake 10-15 minutes for medium-rare, depending on thickness of chops. If necessary to brown the crumbs, run the pan under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, being sure to watch them carefully to avoid over-browning the crumbs. Serve immediately.
Winery Website: Vinification Average age of vines is 20 years, pruning is double guyot. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at automatically controlled temperature. The wine is matured in oak barrels (60% - new) during 16-18 months. This property of 5 hectares, like Château Coucy, belongs to Jean-Marie Maurèze, manager of Dominus… The vines and vinification are under Jean-Luc Thunevin’s supervision. Château Puy Arnaud Mauréze is an exclusivity of the Thunevin Wine Company. Annual production is 30 000 bottles.