Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Roll Out the Barrel

So I went to a Bordeaux barrel tasting yesterday, just like Robert Parker and all the toffs at Wine Spectator do all the time. Forgive me for pointing it out, and looking positively green in the process, but I'm still fairly news to the whole wine biz and not invited to such things regularly. I didn't know quite what to expect. I actually thought we might be snaking out juice with wine thiefs from actual barrels—though I couldn't imagine how they'd get such casks into tiny Chanterelle in Tribeca.

Silly me. The wine was in bottles just like at at any other tasting, only the "2007" vintage was scribbled on the label with pen. The group sponsoring the tasting was Cercle Rive Drouite Primeurs, a roundup of right bank Bordeaux producers, so we were drinking new stuff from Pomerol, Saint-Emilion, Fronsac and therabouts. The talk of the vintage is that the weather was variable and extreme, but the season was saved by fine conditions in September and October.

There are more than 100 members of the Cercle, but only a couple dozen were present. Impressive among the Pomerols were Close l'Eglise, which was full, ripe and with big tannins—all the stuff them Pomerol lovers love. The Saint-Emilions included a rich and juicy Chateau La Commanderie: a more medium-bodied, held-back Chateau Boutisse; a very good Chateau Cote de Baleau with very pronounced tannins that spoke of a solid future; a smooth, full Chateau Quinault l'Enclos; a more even, understated Chateau Fleur Cardinale; and a full-fruited, tart Chateau de Pressace. I sensed a lot of alcohol most everywhere.

Elsewhere, the small Chateau Carignan, a Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux, was an interesting quaff. It was darker and rougher that the big-talking smoothies that surrounded it. Very nice and drinkable. Not great, perhaps, but a rewarding everyday wine. The estate was bought by American importer Andy Lench last year. He described Chateau Carignan as "an everyday drinking man's claret." I'd agree.

No comments: