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.