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Red Bordeaux: A Tasting Tour of French Wine

by VineSleuth Contributing Writer Steve Gross

Our Tasting Tour of French Wine continues with Steve’s observations of a few red Bordeaux.

Now I know what all the fuss is about….

I’d tasted a decent number of red Bordeaux over the years, but never really found one that I would go out of my way to buy again. There was the odd Pomerol that was pretty tasty, but most of what I’d tasted (admittedly in the lower price range) were dusty, lean on fruit, without much aroma, and drier than I’d like.
I can certainly see how a new wine drinker would try an inexpensive red Bordeaux. The reputation of these wines transcends the pages of the wine press. Novels and movies extol the virtues of the wines of Bordeaux – they’re true status symbols, the stuff of legend, if you go in for that sort of thing.
Now, our new wine drinker opens and pours the deep, red liquid into a waiting glass. The first sniff is marked by a dusty aroma, and fruit is not necessarily among the first five things she smells. Tobacco, oak (often a LOT of oak), mocha, maybe, but any kind of fruit is often missing.
The first taste is accompanied by a marked drying of the lining of the mouth. Is this really what people rave about? Was it even worth my $15?
I’ve wondered that myself. The truth is, there are some fine wines out there that do show fruit, don’t overly dry out your mouth, and can even taste good.
Note this, however: you might have to kiss a lot of inexpensive frogs to find the really good one, or you might have to go up the price scale.
Enter the Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Wow. Really, wow. Read about it below.

Red Bordeaux Wines Tasted

Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2004 $85

This wine smells great, tastes great, and it went phenomenally well with Boeuf Bourguignon. It added layers to a wonderful dinner, stimulating our conversation and our taste buds at the same time. The standard tasting note format really does not do justice to the finesse and sheer wonderfulness of this wine. It needs to be tasted to be appreciated.

Mouton Cadet Bordeaux 2010 $8
13.5% ABV

Not much here in the way of fruit, on the nose or palate. Astringent, with tannins that dry out the rear of the mouth. Even on the second day, when some fruit emerged, the wine was not enjoyable.

 

Chateau Lepine 2009 $12
13.5% ABV

More to be found here that the previous wine. More pleasant aromas of dark fruit and berry vine. Drinkable, but not to all palates. On the second day, the wine was rounder, softer, and it offered more fruit. This wine held up well to bleu cheese and hummus with roasted red peppers, which is quite an accomplishment if you think about it.

 

Chateau Bois-Martin Pessac-Leognan 2007 $24

The nicest of the less expensive wines. Smooth drinking, without overly agressive drying of the mouth, with nice fruit flavor, some oak, and no bitterness on the back end. I would drink this again, but the price makes for some tough decisions. There are other wines I know I like, for the same money.

 

Delicious red Bordeaux is not cheap. You might decide that the price is simply too steep. If you do take the leap, though, and if you find the right bottle, you might found out for yourself what all the fuss is about. I certainly did.

To learn more about Bordeaux in general, click over to Cortney’s post on the Bordeaux region of France. Or click over to see what Steve observed in white Bordeaux.

Do you have a red Bordeaux that you especially like? What has your journey through red Bordeaux been like? Any standouts or surprises?

 


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