Authentic Pomerol – Chateau Bonalgue

Thursday, July 14, 2016 9:36 PM


 

When Robert Parker retired from tasting Bordeaux En Primeur in the spring of 2015, it created a bit of a stir.For those who relied on his palate to make wine buying decisions, it would be like having to change dentists, accountants, or mechanics. It was going to be different, but is that all so bad? There’s an old saying, “Different is not always better, but better is always, by definition, different.” We let this play out, and one of a few key talking points around the En Primeur tastings this past spring was that the vignerons knew he would not be tasting their wines as barrel samples anymore, and so to the rest of us, they appeared “Un-Parkerised.” Let me just say that when tasting barrel samples, less extract and more terroir transparency are very welcome! Coincidentally, in the spring of 2015, I had lunch with one of our suppliers at Château la Dominique’s La Terrasse Rouge. The wine we drank at lunch? 2008 Château Bonalgue, Pomerol. It was delicious. Old school dusty, earthy mineral aromas, savory black olive-like fruit with hints of brambly red berries, a kiss of sarsaparilla spice all wrapped up in a medium-bodied elegant mouth feel.

 
Château Bonalgue sits in the very west of Pomerol just near the Libourne city limit. The property consists ofapproximately 7.5 hectares planted mostly to Merlot with around 10% Cabernet Franc. The soils are a mixture of sand, clay, and limestone. The property traces its history back to before the French Revolution with the current owning family having purchased the chateau in 1926. Ironically, it was Robert Parker himself who had this to say about Château Bonalgue, “This over-achieving estate is one of the most consistent performers in Pomerol. Always a well-made, fleshy, succulent, hedonistic wine.”
 

We placed our order for the 2008, and then noticed the 2009, 2010, and 2012 were available. We couldn’t help ourselves; if a quality vertical is so easy and affordable to stock, why not indulge. So we can’t blame those of you who wish to profiter, and build a vertical of this authentic Pomerol for your cellars! –Peter Zavialoff

 

 

 


2012 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol
Early indications pointed to Pomerol as again the hot spot for the 2012 vintage and now that the wines have been bottled, it certainly is one of the more homogenous appellations for the vintage. The wines are showing decadent fruit and dazzling structure suggesting that they’ll age very well. Here’s what RP said about the 2012 Bonalgue,“This excellent blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc is always one of the best value wines of Pomerol, thanks to the leadership and vision of proprietor Pierre Bourrotte. Deep ruby/plum/purple, with loads of mulberry and black cherry fruit, soft tannins, medium body and excellent concentration, this is a plump, mouthfilling Pomerol that lacks complexity, but offers generosity and loads of fruit. Drink it over the next 10-15 years.”13.5% ABV

 

Reg. $39.98
buy 2012 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol 750ML

 

 


2010 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol

 

Another great Pomerol vintage, another rock-solid Bonalgue. This has a little more grip than its two older bottlings, just as we feel the 2009 needs a little time to gain in complexity, we would advise the same for the 2010. Patience is a virtue and with the 2010 Château Bonalgue, it will serve you well. If you are planning on opening either the 2009 or 2010 any time soon, we strongly recommend you decant them for 60-120 minutes before serving. Again, from Señor Parker, “A delicious wine from proprietors Pierre and Jean-Baptiste Bourotte, this frequent sleeper of the vintage is a blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Like its older siblings, the 2010 offers loads of tasty mulberry and black cherry fruit and medium to full-bodied texture, It does not have the greatest complexity, but the 2010 Bonalgue is satisfying and charming. Drink it over the next decade.” 14.5% ABV

Reg. $39.98
buy 2010 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol 750ML

 

 

 

 


2009 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol
Part II of the dynamic duo of great back to back vintages, the 2009 has dense, purple fruit and a solid mineral expression. It has gained in intensity since bottling, and we feel it needs another 4-5 years before it begins revealing further complexity. That being said, here are Mr. Parker’s notes,“Another sleeper of the vintage from this very consistent estate that always seems to over-achieve no matter what the vintage conditions, big ripe black cherry and mocha notes intermixed with some forest floor and underbrush jump from the glass of this seductive, dense, full-bodied, fleshy fruit bomb from Pomerol. It is rich, pure, and just irresistible. Drink it over the next 7-8 years.”14% ABV

 

Reg. $49.98
buy 2009 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol 750ML

 

 


2008 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol
Another great vintage in Pomerol. Most of Bordeaux needed an Indian Summer to save the vintage, which luckily occurred; but Pomerol was going to be good regardless. The Indian Summer made it great. From Parker,“Bonalgue’s 2008 is a sleeper of the vintage. Its deep ruby/purple color is accompanied by sweet black cherry and plum-like fruit, a fleshy texture, and a heady, long finish with ripe tannin and good freshness. It is a pretty wine for drinkers, not speculators.” 13.5% ABV

 

Reg. $38.98
buy 2008 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol 750ML

 

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As I alluded to yesterday, summer is here, and I can go on and on about more white and rosé wines, but on the heels of the praise of Grüner Veltliner, I thought to change it up a bit. Why not? It’s probably no surprise that my thoughts are on Bordeaux, that’s just natural. The Bordelais just hosted VinExpo this past week, and though we were able to follow the festivities via social media, my inbox was unusually quiet this week. That’s all good, we all need time to catch up on things. As I was doing a little housecleaning this morning, I stumbled upon a fairly recent acquisition, the 2008 Château Gloria. I thought, “Here’s an outstanding bottle of red Bordeaux, with a little age on it, for a very fair price.Hey, people drink red wine during summer too.” Summer barbecues? But of course.

 
 
A couple of years ago, I wrote about another St. Julien chateau, and my very first experience with it. Back in those early days of exploration, I listened to a lot of peoplefrom various wine shops, and received a lot of good advice. Occasionally, I went off on my own and would try something on a hunch. One of these early hunches wasChâteau Gloria. I liked the price and saw “St. Julien” on the label. That was enough to go on. It did not disappoint. I found it very enjoyable with a cedary, tobacco, forest floor element, with a good dose of concentrated dark fruit, all in balance. My fellow diners were equally impressed. Maybe it was the pomp of decanting the bottle, I don’t know, but my friends thought I paid double what I did for it. From that moment on, in my mind, filed under Château Gloria was this experience.
 

Things have only gotten better at the chateau over the past 20 years as quality has improved remarkably.The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker remarked back in 1998 that, “Recent vintages of Gloria have pushed the level of quality even higher.” After revisiting the 2003 last summer, Parker declared, “Year in and year out, there is rarely a better wine for the money than this dark garnet Gloria.” If you think about the wild ride of Bordeaux pricing, you’ve got to love the fairness in pricing shown by the team at Château Gloria.
 
 
The 2008 Gloria is drinking very well. Still youthful, it can be enjoyed now or cellared for another 10 years easy. Probably more. You can take my word for it. Or, here’s what the folks at The Wine Advocate had to say:
 
First, Robert Parker: “A stunning sleeper of the vintage, this beautiful, already irresistible, plum/garnet-colored 2008 is a wine to purchase by the case. It possesses a dense plum/purple color, a glorious perfume of Christmas fruitcake, cedarwood, black currants, jammy cherries and licorice, medium to full body and a silky personality. It will provide both a hedonistic and intellectual turn-on over the next 10-15 years. 90 points”
 
And Neal Martin: “The Chateau Gloria 2008 has a fresh, well-defined bouquet with tobacco and graphite notes. It is very clean with well-integrated and judicious use of oak. The palate is medium-bodied with a rounded black cherry and spice-tinged entry leading to a plush, well-defined finish. This is a well-made Saint Julien that should age well over 10-15 years. 91 points”
 
 
So yeah, summer can call for lighter wines meant to be sipped chilled, but there are times when you might want a bold, elegant red too. The 2008 Château Gloria is that wine. I’m looking forward to the first barbecue of summer, because I will be packing one of these. An hour or two in the decanter, and voilà: instant decadence for a modest price. Looking for a belated Father’s Day gift? How about a couple of bottles of 2008 Gloria – one for this summer, one for a summer down the road. To all the Dads out there, we wish you a very Happy Fathers’ Day! And a very Happy Summer Solstice too! – Peter Zavialoff
 
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Bordeaux, St. Julien in particular, or all of the transfer gossip that permeates the English media this time of year: peter@wineSF.com
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The Wine House San Francisco: Our Top Ten Wines of 2011

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 3:13 PM

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year again where we pick the top ten wines that were released and passed through our shop in the calendar year 2011. We first did this in 2009, and the reaction was so positive thatwe did it again last year. It’s a fun exercise for us here; we taste a lot of wine throughout the year, most of which doesn’t even make it to our sales floor. Of all that DOES meet our standards and make it to the floor, it becomes a difficult task to narrow it down to just 10. But we get there; the most fun part of the exercise is that while discussing the wines, we get to relive the past year in tasting. Remember, some of these wines have sold out, but deserve to be mentioned here based on their merits.

2010 Lugana – Ca’Lojera
Kicking things off here is the first of 7 direct TWH imports in this year’s top 10! Speaking for those of us who have not met her, we’re so jealous that first David, and then Anya met with Ambra Tiraboschi at successive Italian tastings in New York City. The wines that come from Ambra’s Ca’Lojera are a rare breed indeed.Ambra’s Cabernet Sauvignon is a gem that is not to be missed. But it’s what she can do with the Turbiana variety that lands her in our Top Ten of 2011. Her 2010 Lugana is one of our favorite Italian whites that came this way in 2011. It’s yummy goodness of fresh white fleshy fruit and zippy acidity, not to mention modest price, pushes it right into the Top Ten. If this is only the first of ten of this caliber, you might want to grab a seat.
2009 J-M Chaland Vire-Clesse
Speaking of terrific white wine imports … David was (again) lucky enough to be tasting wine in Burgundy last winter and when he tasted through the unoaked Chardonnays from Jean-Marie Chaland he had an epiphany. Brand new for us are a whole line of delicious Maconais wines which scream “White Burgundy Values”. The top of the line Thurissey is made from vines over 90 years old! Seriously, run don’t walk to this wine.
2008 Claude Thomas Zinfandel
Here’s a real TWH story. You should see our calendar. I mean Anya’s calendar. It’s got names and times jotted down for every day she works. There is a line out the door for the opportunity to have Anya taste (and hopefully, buy) the respective wines that each wine rep sells. It’s gotten so out of hand that one producer periodically sends his friends in specifically asking for his wine. Ah, what some people resort to just to make a sale. Sometimes, one of these encounters results in an extraordinary upside surprise,“winemakers to watch” and all. Yet it happened again in 2011 with a Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. When the 2008 Claude Thomas Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel was poured for her, Anya, who by the way loves Zinfandel, was all in! Ripe, brambly berry and spice, we’re all in too. What a pleasure for all of us here at TWH when Tom Stanley drops off cases of his wine! Well done, Tom.
2008 Vignobles Boudinaud Côtes du Rhône Mataro
Back to France. You love Mourvèdre. We love Mourvèdre. What’s not to love? Big, gamy, muscular, earthy wines always have a home with those who love the style. It says Côtes du Rhône on the label. It says Mataro on the label as well, which is what some people in Spain, and apparently in the south of France call Mourvèdre. It’s a Côtes du Rhône made from 100% Mourvèdre. We love that! All of us here at TWH were wowed by this wine in 2011.
2010 Domaine d’Orfeuilles Vouvray
One of our favorite Loire Valley producers, Domaine d’Orfeuilles, you know, the ones that make sparkling Vouvray. Or maybe you’re familiar with their sparkling Touraine Rosémade from Côt, or Malbec as it’s known elsewhere. Maybe you’ve heard of their demi-sec Vouvray “les Coudraies”. Obviously, we’re big fans of these guys! The wine that brought us to them? It was the 2005 Vouvray “Silex”. That was so long ago that there isn’t even a blog link to attach to it. But the ’05 Silex? Crisp and bone dry with that lovely apple-ey goodness that Chenin Blanc is known for … but the mineral swirl? The stuff of legend. So when the 2010 recently went out to wholesale accounts and the sample bottle returned to the shop, we poured out some tastes for our staff … Chris and I took one swirl and taste … “Dude, can you believe that?” (Yes, we talk that way. Mostly just to each other.) “That acidity? That freshness. The mineral. The Fruit? This is better than the ’05!” It was. And it is. And it will be.
Pleiades XX – Sean Thackrey
Ever been to Bolinas? It’s a fun little town just northwest of Stinson Beach in Marin County. It’s tough to find, though. Locals like to take down the sign pointing the way whenever Caltrans puts up a new one. This keeps a lot of tourists out; or at least that’s the locals’ rationale. But Bolinas is home to Sean Thackrey’s winery. Sean Thackrey has been making wine for three decades! And his wines are our kind of wines; he embraces unique winemaking techniques, and sources his fruit from all over California. He brings it all back to his winery in Bolinas and makes wine with his hands. Thackrey’s Pleiades XX cracks the top 5 due to its serious amalgam of complexity and intensity. We are ALWAYS on the lookout for wines like this one! We sold out of the XX, be on the lookout for the XXI!
NV Giavi Prosecco
Prosecco. Serious Prosecco. The NV Giavi Prosecco. You’ve never tasted Prosecco like this before. We’ve got a serious Champagne customer. Serious. This gent will ONLY buy the best highly allocated Grower Champagnes we can get our hands on. He loves this Prosecco. He is actually talking this wine up to restaurants he dines in. Word is out in the restaurant world. We haven’t been able to offer this in our retail shop for months due to the demands of fine restaurants here in the Bay Area and in LA! We’re finally back on track, and once again have the wine in stock for you to try. This is Top Ten kind of Prosecco. Try one and see for yourself.
2009 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes
“Everybody loved it.” That’s what a customer said about the 2009 Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes from Château Puy-Servain. What a great 2011 discovery this was!! Instead of relaxing in Bordeaux on the Saturday after the En Primeur tastings, I was off to Montravel to meet with Daniel Hecquet at his Château Puy-Servain. When I tasted his 2009 Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes I got butterflies thinking about how cool it was going to be to get the wine over here and onto your tables. And even cooler, the wine sold out quickly. We bought more from Daniel and the next batch should be here by the end of March.
2009 Domaine Michel Bouzereau Bourgogne Blanc
Back to White Burgundy. David has been tasting the wines from Domaine Michel Bouzereau for several vintages, and he’s liked what he’s tasted. But just as he pointed out in regards to the J-M Chaland wines, he likes to taste several vintages before pulling the trigger. Jean-Baptiste Bouzereau is the winemaker these days and he makes some of the finest Premier Cru Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet that we stock here at TWH. You could pick any of Jean-Baptiste’s Premier Crus and put them in the Top Ten, but that’s kind of like cheating. But what’s this? He makes a Bourgogne too! Not only that, it’s a “Bourgogne” though most of the grapes are sourced from in and around Meursault. One taste will have you hooked!
2008 Château Branaire Ducru, St. Julien
Keeping with tradition, we’re going to Bordeaux. It’s so hard to pick just one wine. In 2011, it was the 2008 Bordeaux vintage that hit the market. There were standouts in all categories Red, White, and Gold! But the wine that struck me greatest had to be the 2008 Branaire Ducru. It has everything I look for in a young claret. Its fruit is expressive, the aromas are deep and complex. On the palate, it has a round feel with noticeable structure and more fruit expression braced by the zippy acidity. Great weight and great balance. The finish is long and complex; a perfect reminder as to why I love the wines from St. Julien most. We only have a few bottles left, so sorry when it sells out.
Honorable Mention: 2001 Château Lanessan
Narrowing all that wine tasted over the course of a year down to only 10 is a very difficult task indeed. One main criterion for the list is that the wine be newly released and available to us in said calendar year. But there is one more wine that wowed us in 2011 that deserves a slight mention, the 2001 Château Lanessan. It too was an amazing discovery that was made in the office of one of our negociants in Bordeaux this past April. We sold out of our stock rather quickly, quick enough to still have a chance to buy more! We did, and it’s on its way here. It should arrive at the end of March. – Peter Zavialoff
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The UGC de Bordeaux Returns To San Francisco: 2008

Monday, January 31, 2011 5:04 PM

Ah Bordeaux. There’s nothing like it. Just wiggling one of those lengthy corks out of a bottle brings much cheer. Something we’ve noticed about Bordeaux is that in spite of the usual 3 or so “Vintages of the Decade”, is that each decade yields a high-quality vintage that flies under the radar. The 2000’s were the first decade in Bordeaux history not to have an “off year”, with the 2008 being that high quality, under the radar vintage.As is customary in late January, the UGC de Bordeaux traveling junket, stopped over in San Francisco last week pouring their newly bottled 2008 Red, White and Gold Wines. It was a mad scramble last year, when the San Francisco event was canceled forcing me to take a jet ride to Los Angeles to catch up with the 2007’s. 2 lengthy flight delays and typical afternoon LA traffic got me to the tasting a little late, but all went well from that point. This year, The Palace Hotel opened their doors for the group, and in a word, the wines were stunning!

I got to the tasting early this time, waiting with 40 or 50 others for the velvet rope to be pulled away. The mob moved directly to the Pessac-Leognan wines as they were the first wines attendees were presented with. I saved that for later as I started in St. Emilion. I shook some hands and met some friends, but with each taste my impressions of this vintage were heightened and heightened.To Pomerol next, for some lush, high-toned sensational wines. Then I hit the Pessac-Leognan reds, Listrac/Moulis, Haut Medoc/Medoc, Margaux, St. Julien, Pauillac and St. Estephes. I was quite taken by all of the St. Juliens as they were showing amazing weight with ripe sweet tannins and that earthy/cedary/forest floor thing I love so much. The Pessac reds were full of character, showing off the harmonious marriage of fruit and terroir. The Listrac/Moulis and Haut Medoc/Medoc wines shined as they are known to do in the best vintages. It is very difficult to make a general statement about over 120 wines; made by producers with differing terroirs, philosophies and styles, butthe word “finesse” seemed to come up tasting glass after tasting glass.

Say what you want about Bordeaux. It’s comforting to know that quality, across the board, has improved to a point that a whole decade has passed with no blemishes! Every vintage is different, and collecting the wines from your favorite producers are a great way to mark the time. Especially when a vintage like 2008 comes along!Peter Zavialoff
Above photo by Eric Risberg, AP

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Chateau Couronneau: Good Friends, Great Wines

Monday, May 3, 2010 3:59 PM

piats


Sure, just like anything else, Bordeaux can be expensive. There is a time and place for everything, and special occasions call for special wines. Butwhat about those of us who love to drink Bordeaux more frequently?We’re guessing you probably know about these folks, but if not, let us fill you in on the efforts ofBenedicte and Christophe Piat of Chateau Couronneau. You see, we’ve been importing their wines for over 10 years now. We know a good thing when we see it (or taste it, anyway). It seems we’re not alone in this prognosis; many of you are on to these wines also.Their wines tip the scales when it comes to authenticity, quality and price.

 It’s good to have friends … especially in Bordeaux. After spending a week running wild, tasting the wines up and down the Medoc and St. Emilion, it has become tradition to put aside a little time to visit the Piats and taste what they will be releasing soon. Two years ago, we had a great visit. It is not an easy chateau to find, so once we found it, we were relieved. The Piats are charming people. They welcomed us into their chateau; gave us the tour, and we began tasting in the barrel room. After the barrel samples, we were invited to stay for lunch, and they put out a spread of seafood that was unrivaled. We had never imported their Bordeaux Blanc before, but when it was poured, its freshness was very inspirational! It paired so well with lunch, that it became a foregone conclusion that we would be importing this wine from now on.

Fast forward to this year. It was Friday afternoon. The Piats were leaving town at 6 PM. I was running late. A spur of the moment arrangement had me meeting Christophe in a St. Foy de Grande parking lot at 4:15 PM. I was to follow him back to the chateau. Okay, he knew the road, I didn’t.He was flying. Flying. Somehow, neither of us were pulled over and we made it safe and sound. Benedicte was there to greet us and we visited for a while, then it was off to the barrel room. My heart still racing from the roller coaster ride over, I managed to regain focus once I had a 2009 Couronneau barrel sample. Another great effort! At this point I wasn’t surprised, as the 2009 reds were very impressive. I was anxious to taste the wines that were available now, so we made our way inside the chateau, and they were already all set up for me. The 2009 Blanc was simply marvelous. Bright, fresh fruit and minerals wrapped up in a lively profile. Much to like. When I tasted the 2008 red, I was impressed. Very expressive dark red fruit dominates the aromatics and palate. There is an earthy framework, and the tannins are fine. This very well could be my favorite Couronneau vintage to date. I came back with glowing reports, and was psyched to hear that they would be coming soon. The container landed last week and the wines are here, ready to go! It’s good to have friends!


horsefarming

Bio-certified since 2001, the Piats are committed to organic farming.

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