All wine reviews, Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, France, Red wine

To wait or not to wait? Château Haut-Vigneau

Produced by: Château Haut-Vigneau, owned by Eric Perrin

Region: Pessac-Léognan, Graves

Grape varieties: 30 % Merlot, 70 % Cabernet Sauvignon

This property, situated in the commune of Martillac, was once part of the Baron de Montesquieu’s estate.

Today, the 20 hectares estate belongs to Mr. Eric Perrin. The Perrin family also owns Château Carbonnieux. New owner invested in a vast land clearing and plantation in the 1980s, to recreate the unique vineyards, filled with Günz gravel,  from scratch.

When I recently opened 2005 vintage of Château Haut-Vigneau, it reminded me that sometimes it pays off to wait. How many times did I hear people, who admire wine, saying that Bordeaux just “does not do it” for them. That those wines are too harsh, acidic or coarse. Let’s ignore the fact that generalizing so many outstanding, and completely different parts of Bordeaux is, at least, unwise. In most cases the problem lies somewhere else.

These wines need time. As simple as that. Some devoted Bordeaux lovers wouldn’t touch their bottles unless they are at least 10 years old. I don’t go that far, mainly because my wine collection is not as large, and I easily become impatient, but I still give it at least five years. The biggest charm of Bordeaux wines is its ability to age for a really long time. But that also carries an adverse element – they are really unfit to be drank young.

2005 vintage was considered one of the best in decades for the Bordeaux. The prices of their top wines went through the roof. The company, I worked for, actually invested money years up front, to secure the best and the most respectable production for our customers. Yet, I remember how my heart sank when a customer, one of the best steakhouses, called me that they sold out everything they purchased of that vintage. Just few months after those wines were released. I know, I should have been excited, it was a sign of great business, but I was sad. It’s hard to expect the restaurant investing significant amount of money into cases of wine, and then keeping them in the cellar for years. Yet, there are few that do just that, and I applaud them for it.

Why spend several hundred dollars for a bottle of wine that isn’t nearly ready to be drank? Knowing many great winemakers personally, I know how proud they are of their carefully nurtured wine. It must hurt to learn that many of their consumers never actually get to know their wines at its best glory. We want it now, we don’t want to wait.

I can compare, since I first tasted this wine as soon as it was released. It was approachable then, but I knew it will develop even better in the bottle. Seven years later, Château Haut-Vigneau  was a silky, medium body wine, with smooth tannins and perfectly balanced acidity. Lots of fruit reminded me of ripe plums and black currant, with tiny bit of smoke, white pepper and all spice. A superb, contemporary wine of amazing value (it sells under $20).

Grapes for Château Haut-Vigneau were harvested by hand, and underwent a temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel vats. It then aged in barrels for 15 months and was fined with egg-whites before bottling.

Yeah, some things are definitely worth to wait for.

Bordeaux, France, White blends, White wines

Chateau Bonnet Blanc 2007

Winemaker: Laurent Le Dez (cellarmaster)
André Lurton – oversees the operations
Grapes: 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon and 10% Muscadette.
Region: Entre-deux-mers, Bordeaux, France

Monsieur André Lurton, one of the largest producers in the region, very skilled and influential man started with a single vision. He wanted to discover best terroires within the region of Bordeaux and produce the highest quality wines.

The long list of different syndicates, councils or federations that he is member, director or founder of, speaks for itself. He never gave up on protecting a treasure of Bordeaux and quality of its wines.

Today, with the help of 170 employees he manages total 630 hectares of vineyards, 11 estates at 4 different Bordeaux appellations. Among his many appellations are the most prestigious, Cru Classe estates in Margaux or Pessac-Léognan. Meeting him in person, despite all his titles and achievements, he is a very humble and pleasant gentleman.

Obviously, such an estate can’t be run by 1 person, it is in fact a collective effort. Vignobles André Lurton is run by a young, dynamic team of highly-skilled managers. Each and every one is attentive, rational, discreet and modest. Understandably, André Lurton entrusts them with his total confidence.

“I am a dedicated winemaker who has been searching for the best soils and micro-climates in Bordeaux for over fifty years in order to produce outstanding wines. I personally oversee work in my vineyards as well as all stages of wine production, combining traditional expertise with the latest technology. My name on the label is a guarantee of irreproachable quality, recognized around the world.”

André Lurton

Tasting notes:
This lovely blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle (a typical varieties for Bordeaux white wines) is well balanced and refreshing. Citrus aromas with delicate grapefruit hints of Sauvignon Blanc are perfectly mixed with very aromatic Semillon and Muscadelle, bringing to the blend white peaches or melon flavors. Expressing fruit, yet balanced acidity. This wine is be a compliment to seafood or salad dishes.

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: under $ 12.00

Ideal food pairing:
Seafood party salad, Spanish canoes, Party tomatoes with marinated feta, My happy tilapia

Bordeaux, France, White blends, White wines

Chateau de L’Hoste Blanc 2007

Grape:50 % Semillon,30 % Sauvignon Blanc,10 % Sauvignon Gris,10% Muscadelle
Region: Entre-Deux-Mers, France

This lovely chateau, purchased by Michel Baylet in 1980 (also owns Chateau Landereau since 1959) is located in Entre-Deux-Mers region, 20 km South East of Bordeaux, in the village of Sadirac.

I had this wine several times and just recently opened a bottle of 2007 Chateau de L’Hoste Classique (the chateau makes another level wine, called Chateau de L’Hoste Blanc Entre-Deux-Mers, which is basically the same one, only selection of best vats).

Chateau de L’Hoste Classique, coming from vineyards about 25 years old, is such a lovely alternative to super seafood wines like Sauvignon Blancs or Pinot Grigios. Grapes were manually picked and sorted. The final blend vary every vintage and the perfect balance of flavors makes this wine irresistible year after year.

Tasting notes:
Beautiful golden color and aroma of citrus fruit. Almost creamy structure, yet crisp and very clean. Each grape brought a different flavor to the blend and the winemaker perfectly balanced out the sweetness of Semillon and Muscadelle with sharp crispiness and acidity of Sauvignon Blanc.

The result is just mellow, fruity wine that is lovely to sip on its own or pair with any seafood dish you can imagine.

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: under $ 13.00

Ideal food pairing:
seafood salad, chicken crisp , vegetable salads, Angel hair pasta with spicy seafood, sushi, shrimp scampi

Bordeaux, France, Red blends, Red wine

Château de Cazenove 2005

Winemaker: Louis de Cazenove
Grape: 66% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon
Region: Bordeaux, France

At the end of the nineteenth century, the vineyard “Le Maqueline” was part of a large estate owned by Nathaniel Johnston, about 3 miles from Margaux village. That domain encompassed fine wine estate, as Chateau Dauzac, ranked “5th grand cru classe Margaux” and bordered La Maqueline’s estate, next to the actual Chateau de Cazenove.

In 1989, Wilhelmina de Cazenove van Essen and her children decided to restore the old vineyard. They selected the perfect parcels, planted them with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc that yield excellent results in this fertile soil, mainly composed by red clay from alluvium over limestone.

They farm the vineyard with attentive care, as green-harvesting, thinning out the leaves to improve the state of health and maturity. Each grape variety is vinifyed separately in stainless steel tanks. Wine than undergo a long fermentation on the skin, under controlled temperature to extract the vintage’s character.

Later on, the wine is aged in oak casks and yields harmonious finesse and complexity. 2005 vintage was one of the most amazing vintages in decades for Bordeaux. The prices of wines skyrocketed and they will be a valuable addition to wine collector’s cellars.

Tasting notes:
Rich but approachable red blend has an aroma of ripe raspberries. The gorgeously dense structure characterize the 2005 vintage with a touch of licorice. Generous and silky tannins are balanced and offer a mouthful, long finish.

This wine is modern Bordeaux, drinkable now but the quality in the bottle promises improvement if kept for a few more years. On the market for about $12.00, this wine is a steal!

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: under $ 15.00

Ideal food pairing:
Steak, grilled barbeque meats, Easy pork chops with onions and peppers, casseroles, Chili, Roasted duck