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November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by David M. Bueker » Mon Nov 01, 2021 11:53 am

The end of the year is in sight, as is the 2021 Wine Focus series. For November we turn to the classic blending of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. We will even allow a little Malbec and Petit Verdot!

Grab a bottle of Bordeaux, a Bordeaux-style blend, or if you want, a single-variety bottling of one of the three (or five) grapes.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by Ted Richards » Mon Nov 01, 2021 10:38 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:For November we turn to the classic blending of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. We will even allow a little Malbec and Petit Verdot!

And what about Arinarnoa, Castets, Marselan, and Touriga Nacional? :D (Actually the latter would allow vintage port!)
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Nov 02, 2021 12:02 am

Any chance we can fit in Madeira? :lol:
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by Tim York » Tue Nov 02, 2021 6:52 am

This is last weekend's wine treat, a classic left-bank Bordeaux from Saint-Estèphe. On the left-bank, Cabernet-Sauvignon tends to dominate, whereas Merlot usually dominates on the right-bank with some of the best having high proportions of Cabernet Franc bringing more elegance. The balance differs from château to château with a trend, regrettable IMO, in both Médoc and Graves towards a higher proportion of Merlot at a time when climate warming means that Cab matures more easily and Merlot becomes more jammy. At Lafon-Rochet, Cab is about 50%, Merlot 45% with CabFranc and PV making up the balance.

2000 Château Lafon-Rochet - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe (30/10/2021)
This is classical warm vintage claret. The nose is elegant with red plum infused fruit, hints of noble green and some underlying warmth. The medium bodied palate is linear slowly building up to the finish, replays the aromas from the nose over mature gracious fruit, fine minerals, good underlying roundness, moreish acidity and firm enrobés tannins supporting the decently long finish. This is my first 2000 which is really singing and at last makes me regret not having gone more into this vintage. Very good.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by David M. Bueker » Tue Nov 02, 2021 7:24 am

Ted Richards wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:For November we turn to the classic blending of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. We will even allow a little Malbec and Petit Verdot!

And what about Arinarnoa, Castets, Marselan, and Touriga Nacional? :D (Actually the latter would allow vintage port!)


If you can find a Bordeaux style blend that includes some of the new grapes then go for it!

The man behind the curtain tells me that we can also accept Carmenere.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by Paul Winalski » Tue Nov 02, 2021 11:40 am

1995 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon "The Montelena Estate", Chateau Montelena

Deep, clear red-purple color. Obviously not young, but you'd never guess it's 25 years old. I takes a minute or two to release its bountiful, complex, classic cabernet sauvignon aromas of blackcurrants, dark fruits, and pencil shavings. Mouth filling and seamless flavors follow the aroma. Everything is smooth and integrated--no rough edges anywhere. This wine is a joy to drink. Its only flaw, if you can call it that, is that the finish is a bit abrupt. It is coasting along on a plateau at its peak. Judging by the color and the flavor profile, I think it has at least another ten years left in it. Alas, I only have one bottle left--it's been hard to keep my paws off it over the years. Double Curlly Larry.

-Paul W.
Last edited by Paul Winalski on Mon Nov 15, 2021 12:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by Peter May » Tue Nov 02, 2021 5:11 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:
Ted Richards wrote:
And what about Arinarnoa, Castets, Marselan, and Touriga Nacional? :D (Actually the latter would allow vintage port!)


If you can find a Bordeaux style blend that includes some of the new grapes then go for it!


I believe they are not allowed to be named (yet).


David M. Bueker wrote:
The man behind the curtain tells me that we can also accept Carmenere.


I would darned well hope so. It's one of the original 6 allowed for red BDX - i.e., CS,CF, Mer, Mal, PV and Car.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by David M. Bueker » Tue Nov 02, 2021 5:36 pm

Peter May wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:
Ted Richards wrote:
And what about Arinarnoa, Castets, Marselan, and Touriga Nacional? :D (Actually the latter would allow vintage port!)


If you can find a Bordeaux style blend that includes some of the new grapes then go for it!


I believe they are not allowed to be named (yet).


David M. Bueker wrote:
The man behind the curtain tells me that we can also accept Carmenere.


I would darned well hope so. It's one of the original 6 allowed for red BDX - i.e., CS,CF, Mer, Mal, PV and Car.


Apparently your sarcasm detector is broken. ;)
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by David M. Bueker » Tue Nov 02, 2021 8:07 pm

  • 2015 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley - USA, California, Napa Valley (11/2/2021)
    There’s a line between California sunshine and Bordeaux tradition. This wine doesn’t just straddle the line, it stands right on top of the line. First impression is the exuberance of California, but it is reigned in with structure, as well as additional flavor elements from the blending components that bring notes of earth and green. The oak influence is moderate, and subservient to the fruit. Overall there’s balance for aging, but it’s also a pleasing drink today. I would hope to be able to leave a couple of bottles for 10-15 years of additional cellar time, but I doubt I will be that patient. In the context of Napa Valley Cabernet this is an outstanding value at $65 list price.

p.s. this is generally 80-85% Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec making up the balance.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by Jenise » Thu Nov 04, 2021 1:09 pm

With dinner last night:

2000 Château Chasse-Spleen Moulis en Médoc Red Bordeaux Blend
Splendid showing. Fully mature but not fading. Everyone's favorite.

2001 Château Barde-Haut St. Émilion Grand Cru Red Bordeaux Blend
Identical to previous bottle six months ago. Drinks well and provides much pleasure, but it's on the downhill slope. Drink soon.

2002 Château La Confession St. Émilion Grand Cru Red Bordeaux Blend
Seemed fine when decanted but an hour later TCA crept in. That aside: surprisingly dark and youthfully structured compared to the other two with deep blueberry notes. That alone was fetching enough that one of my guests drank this in preference to the others anyway. Well-stored bottles should drink well over the next five years or more.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by Tim York » Fri Nov 05, 2021 6:57 am

This is a right-bank blend from a well regarded estate in Côtes de Bourg which is situated further downstream the river Dordogne from the classic areas of Saint-Émilion and Pomerol roughly at confluence with the river Garonne. A lot of Bordeaux is now being made to drink very young so I did not hesitate to open this two year old. However, at this stage it did not really work for me.

2019 Château Fougas - France, Bordeaux, Côtes de Bourg (04/11/2021)
Like the 2018, this wine, made by organic methods from Merlot 60% and CabSauv 40%, is round, ripe and fragrant on entry and mid-palate but, unlike with its predecessor, I was bothered by coconut and dry caramel notes from the élevage towards the finish. I even wondered if it had not seen American oak though that is unlikely at Bordeaux. This effect may attenuate with more age and the performance of the remaining two-thirds of the bottle this evening or tomorrow should be instructive. Fairly good only right now.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by Paul Winalski » Fri Nov 05, 2021 12:51 pm

A correction to my previous tasting note. When I opened the 1995 Montelena Napa Cab, I didn't pay too much attention to the label. I missed the legend "The Montelena Estate" in small gold letters--easy to miss against the white label background. These days the Estate bottling is easy to distinguish because it has a different capsule from the other Montelena offerings. But that wasn't true back in 1995. I've edited the tasting note to correct the mistake.

1992 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon "The Montelena Estate", Chateau Montelena

This needs decanting or some airing in the glass. It's very closed-in when first poured from the bottle. After about 1/2 hour it opens up brilliantly. It has a mature, brickish color but still looks younger than its 29 years. Bountiful, complex aromas, primarily of wild cherry, greet you from the glass. Intense, mature fruit flavors on the mouth, again mostly wild cherry. Tannins are fully resolved but there's a bit of an acidic zing that buoys up the flavors. The finish is long and rises to a crescendo of tart, wild cherry fruit. This wine is gliding merrily along its plateau of maturity. No rush to drink it up, but no reason to hold off, either. Alas, this was my last bottle. :( Doble Curly Moe.

It's interesting to compare this to the 1995. I think '95 must have been a riper vintage as there isn't that bit of acidic elbow sticking out and the flavors tend more to blackcurrants than cherries. On the other hand the 1995 lacks that peacock-tail finish, probably because there isn't the acidity to carry it. Both are equally charming, but in different ways.

-Paul W
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by David M. Bueker » Sat Nov 06, 2021 10:11 am

Hard to go wrong with 1990s Montelena.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by David M. Bueker » Sat Nov 06, 2021 7:18 pm

  • 1995 Château Montrose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe (11/6/2021)
    Decanted immediately prior to serving by the guy who brought it, so it took a little while before that angry, hard shell of Montrose finally cracked. When it did there was still the austerity of 1995, but also the cedary, earthy development of “older” Bordeaux. Admittedly it’s hard for me to think of 1995 as getting towards that older phase, as it was the first vintage of Bordeaux I bought on release. Oh well, I guess I am getting older too. The wine kept developing and improving for the couple of hours we spent with it, the fruit deepening, and the savory tones increasing. Ideally I might wait three or four more years, but a three hour advance decant might do the trick as well.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by Peter May » Mon Nov 08, 2021 1:25 pm

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2014 Château Tour St Bonnet (France, Bordeaux, Médoc)

We had this on Sunday with roast beef, I've been buying Tour St Bonnet for over 50 years now. I got a case of this, as I have every year EP, and it's now nicely mature, a decent honest claret - maybe a bit unshowy compared with the voluptuous bdx blends of the hew world.

This was the tenth bottle of this vintage and the last two will soon go.

There's no information on the back label about varieties used, but I visited the estate in 2011 and they grow 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petite Verdot with an average age of 45 years, There is an insignificant amount of Cabernet Franc and Malbec. They are planting more Petite Verdot.

The tower on the label is in their vineyard overlooking the estuary. It has variously been a defensive fort against pirates, a customs station and a pigeon loft.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by David M. Bueker » Mon Nov 08, 2021 4:43 pm

Nice to drink a wine you have known for so long. I've had a couple of bottles of that wine. It's very pleasant. Won't blow anyone away, but it's a good wine at a good price.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by Steve Kirsch » Tue Nov 09, 2021 2:26 pm

1989 Ch. La Louvière

A friend in the trade offered these notes. I can't do any better.

NOSE: a sheath of fust soon volunteers a combed and stitched fabric of truffle, stone-bloom, and cassis. MOUTH: an example of gentle texture. No discontinuities, only mellow, scented earth, flowers, and black produce. - PW
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by Jenise » Thu Nov 11, 2021 1:40 pm

2018 Stoller History Columbia Valley Red Blend
Tasted at the winery last weekend. 50+% cabernet with malbec, merlot and CF. All Washington fruit without the Washington point of view. Rather, a more subtle, finessed style one would hope for from makers of elegant pinot noirs. Really good. Would in fact have been tempted to buy but, honestly, I was here for pinot and chardonnay.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by Paul Winalski » Sun Nov 14, 2021 3:40 pm

I'm a subscriber to Chateau Montelena's wine club and I buy a case of futures for their The Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon each year, for delivery four years later. Montelena didn't harvest any of their red grapes in 2020 due to contamination from all the wildfires. For those of us who had bought 2020 futures they offered to ship 2003 The Montelena Estate from their library collection instead. I took delivery on a case of this last Thursday. Since I now have two cases of the wine, I decided to open one of the newly-delivered bottles to see how it is getting on.

2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon "The Montelena Estate", Chateau Montelena

Almost opaque purple color. After some minutes in the glass, abundant aromas of blackcurrant and black raspberry fruit emerge, with a touch of oak in the background. Mouth-filling fruit flavors follow the aromas. There's lively acidity in the background, but the tanins seem to have resolved themselves. Very long finish. Infanticide at age 18? This wine can use at least ten more years. Great potential. Curly Moe.

-Paul W.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by David M. Bueker » Sun Nov 14, 2021 7:39 pm

That’s a classy move by Montelena!
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by David M. Bueker » Sun Nov 14, 2021 7:51 pm

  • 2001 Clos du Marquis - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien (11/14/2021)
    Why did I drink so many bottles of this so early? My next to last bottle, and it’s finally starting to come into form at age 20! After years of being blocky and austere, it has developed a suave exterior. An hour after opening the aromatics encompass earth, stone and fruit tones, and the palate glides along with only enough tannins to keep it on track. I would like some more evolution to the aromas, maybe a bit of cedar or leather, but overall it’s delicious and classically Bordeaux. Not so bad for a wine that cost me $25 on release.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by Jenise » Tue Nov 16, 2021 11:13 am

Last night, feeling some solidarity with our brethren in British Columbia due to yesterday's cataclysmic conclusion to five days of hard rain (we're cut off from the rest of the world due to flooding and mudslides), we opened a bottle of what is arguably British Columbia's best Bordeaux blend, a Black Hills Nota Bene, my last 2005. The blend varies somewhat from year to year; this one is 43% cabernet, 37% merlot and 20% CF. It was quite tasty but it's tiring and would have been better several years ago.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by Peter May » Tue Nov 16, 2021 2:10 pm

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2019 Zorgvliet Silver Myn Argentum (South Africa, Stellenbosch)


We had this claret look alike with roast beef last week. It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernets Sauvignon & Franc and Petite Verdot, four of the six classic claret varieties.

Very inexpensive, yet delicious. Ripe fruit, rounded and full bodied. Like a Bordeaux from a Chateau one can no longer afford in a mythical perfect year.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Wine 402 - Bordeaux Style Blending

by Tim York » Tue Nov 16, 2021 4:05 pm

Am I cheating by including this 100% Malbec as a Bordeaux blend? As it bears the Bordeaux Supérieur appellation, I think not. More and more Bordeaux producers, especially the young, are pushing to the limits of the appellation rules and beyond with many producing wines with non-authorised varieties like Syrah and Chardonnay under Vin de France or IGP labels.

2019 Château Guillaume Blanc Malbec - France, Bordeaux, Bordeaux Supérieur (15/11/2021)
This 100 % Malbec wine comes with a golden sticker boasting a Decanter award and 95 points causing contradictory emotions of great expectations and scepticism. This time the first glass came after a robust, liquorice tinged and structured Rioja with a 60% Graciano content and I expected it to be wiped out but not a bit of it. It was sufficiently full with ripe fruit of a savoury complexion, some depth and earthiness, balsamic hints, bright flattering acidity, suave texture and adequately firm finish with ripe tannins. Very good wine and I hope I find more bottles even if I have pay more than the c.€6 which I have recorded in my CT data base.
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