2012 Château Teynac, Saint-Julien – A New Favorite!

Monday, January 23, 2017 11:20 AM

A belated Happy New Year, all! I can’t believe this is my first Saturday evening email of 2017 – the flu hits hard, and I was recovering from the repercussions of said flu last Saturday. And now that it has passed, there’s no mistaking what time of year it is. The parade of Bordeaux personalities has begun to pass through our doors, and there will be more to come next week, culminating with the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting of the newly bottled 2014’s next Friday! With so many folks passing through here, I am being constantly reminded to get a move on making my arrangements for early April’s En Primeur tastings in Bordeaux. A new container from France just arrived, and on it is a wine which also reminds me of one of the reasons I make this trip each spring – a super deal!


As I may have mentioned in the past, En Primeur week begins on a Monday and lasts through Thursday; with wine people from all over the world scrambling around in our rental cars frantically trying to make all of our tasting appointments on time! I like to arrive in the middle of the preceding week, giving me a few days to adjust to the time, cuisine, and language. It also allows me time to visit suppliers and taste several bottled wines, all the while seeking value. The value wine that took the gold during last April’s visit has now arrived, and we all just tasted it last week: 2012 Château Teynac, Saint-Julien.


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Saint-Julien has the lowest average production of the five major appellations of the Médoc, yet it also has the highest proportion of classified growths, producing over 80% of the appellation’s annual output. So, with over 80% of the appellation classified, we must ask ourselves are there any non-classified Saint-Julien bargains out there? The answer is a resounding yes. It was at a negociant tasting last year where I tasted the 2012 Château Teynac, to call it a big hit would be an understatement. It showed aromas of black cherry fruit and cassis, with the signature underlying forest floor, chalky mineral, and hint of leather that I usually associate with nearby Château Gruaud Larose. The palate is medium bodied, and the acid component of the wine’s structure is bright and lively. There are some spice notes which come from a little oak barrel in the mix, and the finish is bright and complex. Impressed as I was with the tasting, I fully jumped on board after checking its price and hearing its story.


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Château Teynac sticks out like a beacon on the main road that connects the village of Beychevelle with Gruaud Larose and Chateau Lagrange beyond that. The negociant mentioned that the vineyards lay between Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou and Chateau Beychevelle, though after I returned from the trip, I read somewhere that they were more specifically between Beychevelle and Gruaud Larose, which makes a lot of sense to me, as I was reminded of the latter’s aromatic profile when tasting the wine. This negoce also told me that the vineyards continue to be sought after by neighboring classified growths, but that Teynac’s owners, set with their “tech money,” refuse to sell. They enjoy their wine, so they keep a lot of it for themselves.

Since 2008, they had employed the daughter and granddaughter of Spanish winemakers, Diana Garcia Gonzalez to make their wines. Obviously, winemaking is in her blood. She set off immediately and went about improving things. New harvesting machines, stainless steel tanks (in order to vinify seperate parcels), and a new cellar were all brought in under her watch. Her magic touch extends beyond the winery, as she is a nurse and a bit of a vine-whisperer out in the vineyards. Diana was the winemaker for the 2012 Château Teynac, though has since joined Chateau Petit Village in Pomerol as Technical Director. She now goes by Diana Berrouet Garcia. Keep your eye on that property — we sure will!


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A Close Up Of The Small Label Sign To The Left Of The Gate Above


In the excellent timing department, my health is back just in time for this evening’s festivities, for tonight is TWH’s Holiday Party. We can’t exactly schedule such a thing during the period known as “The Holidays,” due to high stress and other obligations, so we’ve had these events in January before. You can bet there will be wine from Bordeaux at this dinner; Chris and I even lobbied hard for a second bottle of Sauternes to be brought because, in his words, “I like the idea of having a glass of Sauternes in front of me to taste with everything that comes to the table.” That makes two of us! – Peter Zavialoff

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

 

$30 Pomerol – Who Dropped The Mic?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 5:53 PM

 


2012 Chateau Mazeyres, Pomerol

It’s almost over … What, basketball season? Yeah, well that too; but I’m talking about the release of Bordeaux futures, of course. Prices have been released little by little since I returned from the region in April, and after a one week pause during Vinexpo in Hong Kong, they have now become fast and frenzied. With a nine hour time difference, David has been sleeping with one eye open to be certain we get our proper allocations of some of Bordeaux’s hard to get wines from 2015. With less than a dozen of famous names left to release, we anticipate the campaign will conclude next week. I am working as fast as I can to get these wines priced and entered onto our website in order for you all to be able to secure your allocations, as some of the 2015s are fantastic examples of how good red Bordeaux can get in a very good vintage. We will send out a few more emails about the 2015 futures in the coming days, but tonight I want to talk about a quality Bordeaux already in bottle.Let’s have a look at the 2012 Chateau Mazeyres from Pomerol.

 
 
I begin with a disclosure, I am a Bordeaux consumer.Coincidentally, I am employed by a wine importer/distributor/retailer who happens to represent Bordeaux among others, but I am a consumer before anything else. Just this past week, I fell prey to a different merchant’s Bordeaux offer. I bought 10 bottles of red Bordeaux because I can’t help myself. I don’t do it often, as I can usually get anything I want right here, but when I saw what I know as quality red Bordeaux for the right price, I bought it. I had to. The same goes when we were perusing a supplier’s price list a few months ago. In April 2015, Robert Parker re-tasted the 2012 vintage after bottling and raised quite a ruckus by stating that the vintage was showing much better than he originally thought. He called out the wines from Pomerol in particular. When something like that happens, the wines sell. Especially the affordable ones.So I was quite surprised when I saw the 2012 Château Mazeyres from Pomerol on this list,knowing that we could sell it for just under $30. Thinking it a misprint, I sent the supplier an inquiry rather than an order. They responded that they indeed had 9.5 cases left. Not anymore. We have them now. Not for long.
 
 
Château Mazeyres is the westernmost château in Pomerol sitting just on the Libourne city limit. It has been managed by Alain Moueix since 1992, and the quality of Mazeyres has risen consistently under his watch. My first contact with Mazeyres was in April 2011 while in Bordeaux tasting the 2010 barrel samples. 2010 was a monster of a vintage and I must say my palate was pretty beat up by the time the tastings concluded. It was duringone of my bouts with palate fatigue when a negociant with whom I am friendly noticed my struggle. He poured a taste of the 2010 Mazeyres and walked over to me. “Taste this one, it may cheer you up.” It did. What I loved about it was its liveliness and its elegance. It made sense; this gent is English, and the wine very well suited for the English palate. I was just relieved that it wasn’t over the top as oh so many 2010 barrel samples were. I carry the memory to this day, and when we saw the price and availability of the 2012, we jumped. Again, it’s frustrating to wait for wines like this to arrive, because we want you to be able to taste them too! The good news is that it is now here for us to enjoy.
 
The aromas are sensational. Briary, plump, purple Merlot fruit and incense waft from the glass with layers of crunchy berries and herbs. The palate is fresh and invigorating. It is medium bodied, light on its feet, and gives a well-integrated, complex tasting experience. I popped a bottle and shared it with Anya and Tom earlier and they both loved it. Citing its“completeness,” it went over extremely well as we all welcomed the very adult profile of this Pomerol.
 
The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin had this to say about the 2012 Château Mazeyres, “Tasted twice with consistent notes, Alain Moueix has fashioned just a beautiful, floral, almost Margaux-like bouquet that I think will be special once in bottle. The palate is medium-bodied with fleshy ripe tannins, wonderful acidity and a satin-textured finish that boasts superb fruit concentration and elegance at this early stage. This is a great wine from an under-rated estate.” So yes, we don’t expect this to be around very long.
 
It’s almost over. The Bordeaux futures campaign, that is. My email inbox is full every morning with offers for the newly priced 2015’s and from customer looking to secure allocations of them. The phones are ringing off the hook as well. As I said, I am working as fast as I can to get these wines priced and onto our website. Most of them are, but there will be more to come this week. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions about anything relating to 2015 Bordeaux futures. The 2015’s will arrive sometime in 2018. The 2012 Château Mazeyres is here now; but not for long! – Peter Zavialoff
 
PS: To all the Dads out there, Happy Fathers’ Day!
 
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about Bordeaux, 2015 futures, or the Euro 2016 tournament: peter@wineSF.com
0 Comment Posted in 2012 Bordeaux


March 27, 2016. It’s that time of year again! The folks in Bordeaux are bracing themselves for the upcomingonslaught of wine professionals who will be attending theEn Primeur tastings which officially commence on Monday, April 4. Several well known wine people are already there tasting the wines, and I will follow suit next week. As always, my schedule is pretty full of appointments and chateau visits during the crazy week, but for the days before and afterwards, the pace is a bit more laid back. One day next week, I’m going to (hopefully – if it’s not raining) walk down to Gare Saint-Jean, cross under the tracks, hear the SNCF jingle, pick up a rental car, and drive out to Sainte Foy la Grande. 10 minutes north of Sainte Foy is where Daniel Hecquet tends to his vines at Château Puy-Servain. 10 minutes south?Bénédicte and Christophe Piat and their Château Couronneau.

 

 
 

We’re well into our second decade of importing the Piats’ wines, and since Christophe’s commitment to, first organic farming, and now Demeter certified Biodynamism, we’ve noticed an annual uptick in the quality of their wines. Currently in stock is the 2012 Couronneau Cuvée Pierre de Cartier. You may remember the 2010 version of this wine which earned the nickname, “The Monster.” If the 2010 was “The Monster,” the 2012 must be “The Starlet.” It is all elegance and grace. Again, the Cuvée Pierre de Cartier is100% Merlot sourced from Couronneau’s oldest vineswhich grow in clay upon limestone soils. The wine is deftly aged in oak barrel, some of it new, though isn’t “lost in the woods” when tasting it. The aromas are seductive with dark red and plump purple fruit, hints of clove, violets, and earth. Bracing myself for the attack of the monster from memory, I was calmed by the adult-like, expressive, and seamless palate. The finish is spot-on classy, leaving me with the conclusion that this wine is in a very good place right now, and I have the feeling it will drink very well for a decade or more. It’s elegantenough to broaden one’s pairing ideas away from the typical rack of lamb or rib-eye steak (though those are still applicable) to simpler fare such as a duck breast or simple pasta with red sauce. Having just tasted it minutes ago, I am thinking that it would be a great by-the-glass wine at my local brasserie.

 
Well, it looks like rainy days will welcome me to Bordeaux this year. I just hope that I can get from the bus to the hotel without getting completely soaked. The 2015 vintage for red Bordeaux is getting some very favorable press,as many are citing the “perfect conditions” of the growing season. I will begin my stay with severalnegociant visits tasting already bottled wines that are available in the Bordeaux marketplace. I will start tasting 2015 barrel samples next Sunday, and it will bemostly 2015s over the following 5 days. The rain is expected to clear up by next Friday, which should make my drive to Couronneau a pleasant one. I will make a point of telling Bénédicte and Christophe how much I enjoyed their 2012 Cuvée Pierre de Cartier! – Peter Zavialoff

 

 
 

If there are any particular samples that any of you may be interested in hearing about, please drop me a note and I will do my best to taste them and send along my impressions: peter@wineSF.com

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And just like that, Bam!, thanks to the folks at Air France, I’m back in California. En Primeurs 2015 has come and gone, and all I have to show for it are pages and pages of tasting notes, a bunch of emails to catch up on, bills and expense reports, and of course, the memories. In general, the trip was successful as I found many 2014 barrel samples showing the potential for becomingwonderful wines after bottling. I also made time to visit several negociants to taste some back vintages in hopes of finding wines to ship sooner than later. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to taste at two of my favorite chateaux this year, but that happens too. A fellow Bordeaux Scout who works for a local competitor popped in this afternoon and we chatted about our respective impressions. As we were wrapping up, he asked me, “So what was your #1 highlight?” Hmmm. I had several personal highlights; but professionally, it was a conversation.
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At lunch in St. Emilion, I was with one of our suppliers waiting for her colleague and his two clients to join us at the table. She turned to me and asked, “So now that Robert Parker is not covering Primeurs any longer, who will take his place in the eyes of Americans?” I’m not going to get into my answer today, as time and spacial constraints do not allow for me to answer in full here and now. It was a fairly serious answer, certainly not one for a “Sunday Email,” though I will air it in the form of a blog post soon. I continued to explain that, despite Mr. Parker’s physical absence from Bordeaux in the spring of 2015, his influence was being felt once more. This time, due to a post he placed on The Wine Advocate’s online bulletin board. He wrote, “Just finished tasting over 700 bottles 2012 Bordeaux. Still have about 40 or so to finish, but my initial report in April, 2013 looks to be on the money….with a big exception…the wines are performing better than I originally estimated…which is great considering the ultimate truth is after bottling.” He specifically pointed to Pomerol and Graves, but also mentioned some St. Emilion and some Médoc.Tom and I both attended the 2012 UGC tasting at the end of January, and we both agreed that the wines from Margaux, St. Julien, and Pauillac were stand-outs. Just thinking out loud here, if the Pauillacs of 2012 are showing better than expected, would the 2012 Pontet Canet be of First Growth quality, yet selling for less than $100? I’d bet on it.
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Back in April 2013, I tasted the 2012 Pontet Canet out of barrel, it was one of Pauillac’s standouts. Dense and concentrated, it showed a solid core of dark, lush fruit and earth with captivating structure. The quality of wine Pontet Canet has released for the past 15 years is of the highest standard, and needs to be in the conversation of Bordeaux’s best wine in any vintage. They just do everything right here. When I tasted at Pontet Canet 12 days ago, I asked Mélanie Tesseron about their 2nd wine, Les Hauts de Pontet. She told me there was no reason to show it as there really isn’t very much of it. In fact, it once was comprised of fruit harvested from their youngest vines, but those vines have since matured and in essence, over 90% of their total crop now goes into the grand vin. Operating with the Agence Bio organic certification since 2010, there is a distinct purity of fruit and terroir expression to their wines. This is especially so with their 2012.
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So despite not being in Bordeaux personally, Robert Parker’s presence was felt, as word of his upcoming synopsis of 2012 Bordeaux in bottle was all the buzz on both sides of the Gironde. We’ve received many inquiries from customers about the wines of Pomerol and Pessac-Léognan (and Graves), as those were the first two appellations he mentioned in his bulletin board post; but quality is quality, and Pontet Canet has quality in spades. Pass at your own peril. – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about 2012 Bordeaux, 2014 Bordeaux, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com

A Pre-Arrival Bordeaux Deal: 2012 Beau-Sejour Becot

Friday, April 10, 2015 10:07 PM

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Bonsoir! I hope all is well back in the states. I’ve been in Bordeaux since Wednesday afternoon, and after getting over the time difference, I can say with conviction that I’m ready for the crazy time known around here as En Primeurs week. I visited two suppliers on Thursday and tasted through 29 samples of various Bordeaux wines from vintages ranging from 1999-2012. We have more prospects. Tomorrow, it will get intense. There will literally behundreds of 2014 barrel samples available for tasting at the respective warehouses of two different suppliers. I need a good night’s sleep. So I will be brief. If you love Bordeaux like I do, or even a little bit less, a wine you should have in your cellar is the 2012 Chateau Beau-Séjour Bécot.

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We’re still selling it on pre-arrival, but when it arrives, we don’t anticipate it staying around for very long, as it haspedigree, sense of place, restraint, and for the price, big-time value! It is scheduled to begin arriving in mid 2015, and the last of it should arrive no later than the end of the year. Back in 2013, I remember tasting it out of barrel.“How was the Beau-Séjour Bécot?” David asked. “Spectacular!” I said.

 

 

The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker, prior to his retiring from his 30+ year job of traveling to Bordeaux for primeurs, had this to say about the 2012 Beau-Séjour Bécot out of barrel,

 

 

“A spectacular wine from this nearly 50-acre vineyard situated atop St.-Emilion’s famed limestone plateau, the final blend for the 2012 Beau-Sejour Becot was 70% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. It achieved 14% natural alcohol and yields were 31 hectoliters per hectare. One of the stars of the vintage, it is elegant yet powerful, rich and authoritative with abundant black raspberry, blueberry, graphite and toasty vanillin notes. Full-bodied and super rich for a 2012, it is packed with potential. The tannins are ripe as well as abundant suggesting several years of bottle age will be required. It should turn out to be a 20 year proposition. (92-95) points”
 
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Wines like the 2012 Beau-Séjour Bécot serve as a constant reminder as to how much we trust Bordeaux. The respective chateaux owners might be mired in ye olde “let’s outdo the neighbors” mentality, but we feel fortunate that the Bécot family have their senses about them and offered their wine for a very fair price. Perhaps “too” fair? – Peter Zavialoff

 

 

PS: Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2014 futures, 2012 Beau-Séjour Bécot, or English football. – Peter Zavialoff

2012 Opalie de Chateau Coutet (Pre-Arrival)

Saturday, March 14, 2015 5:32 PM

It is once again, with great pleasure, that we announce the American release of an extraordinary dry white wine from Bordeaux! By now, many of you are familiar with Opalie de Château Coutet, as we were the first wine merchants to offer both the inaugural 2010 and its successor from 2011. These are two stunning wines: opulent, textured and complex, both reflective of the prized terroir they’re sourced from and of their distinct vintages. Unique in its vivacity, Opalie is a first-of-its-kind dry white wine from Barsac produced in extremely limited production. And now comes the 2012, another gem extracted from Château Coutet’s Grand Cru vineyard in Barsac.

 

When we unveiled the inaugural 2010 vintage, we pointed out how the dry white wines fromBordeaux can count themselves among the finest wines in the world. They have a committed following of in-the-know wine consumers snapping up what little is produced, and prices for the top echelon wines can be astronomical. The Opalie de Château Coutet is a truly unique white Bordeaux wine that at once encapsulates richness, layers of complexity, opulence, nerve, and texture in unwavering harmony.

With the 2011 Opalie, we again pointed out in what short supply these wines are in, and further praised their ability to age. If you’ve ever tasted a dry white Bordeaux with the additional complexity that comes with age, you already know what we’re talking about. These wines can age for much longer than most of us think. At TWH’s holiday party this past January, we poured a dry white Bordeaux from 1992 out of half-bottle with one of our dinner courses, and it blew us away! Are we saying that youshould age your Opalie 20 years before you drink it? NO! It’s in a lovely place, drinking very well right now. But if you find the odd bottle or two in your cellar a few years down the road, you’ll be in for a treat.

So, what about the 2012 Opalie de Château Coutet then? Well, for starters, it has to be my sentimental favorite, because it was in April 2012 that I had my very first taste of Opalie while visiting Aline and Philippe Baly at Château Coutet. The 2010 was already in bottle and the 2011 in barrel, but for the 2012, it was just the beginning. After that initial tasting, I shared my glowing impressions of the wine with them. Citing how much I appreciated the wine’s richness, complexity, and sense of place, Philippe persistently inquired as to how I would improve the wine if I could. Again, we all have different taste, but I do have a fairly high tolerance for acidity in white wines. I mentioned this to them, and Philippe agreed stating that the recipe going forward would be to increase the amount of Sauvignon Blanc in the cuvee. For the 2012 Opalie de Château Coutet, the blend is 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Sémillon. The wine is aged for 9 months in oak barrels, with 40% being new. In a word, the wine is fantastic! Its fresh aromas captivate the taster with nuances of citrus blossoms, baking spices, stony minerals, and green tea. The body is lively and zesty, plenty of zip provided by the Sauvignon Blanc, and the palate is rich and complex, with the mineral laden framework enduring through the finish. I tasted the2012 Opalie on my final day in Bordeaux last year, leaving a long lasting impression on me. Class and distinction.Class and distinction for a very fair price, that is.

 

Here’s what The Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth had to say about the 2012 Opalie de Château Coutet:
“Juicy, with lots of tangerine, white peach and green almond notes that bounce along, carried by vivacious acidity. Hints of melon rind and green plum show on the finish, leaving the impression this could stretch out a little more. Drink now through through 2018. 291 cases made. Score 91.”

 

So there you have it. Château Coutet’s one-of-a-kind dry white wine, the 2012 Opalie.Right now, the only place you can get it on pre-arrival in the US is here at TWH!

The time keeps ticking as Bordeaux prepares for itsannual En Primeurs barrel tastings which commence on Tuesday, March 31. I will berepresenting The Wine House SF at the tastings,scouting the 2014 vintage (and more) for our customers. My appointment book is filling up with visits to growers, suppliers, and chateaux. I will continue to scout for lesser known wines that represent great values for their various price-points and it looks like I will be visiting some of Bordeaux’s most famous chateaux in addition to tasting at the UGC events. In keeping with tradition, I will take the time to visit Sauternes and Barsac in particular. There’s a very good chance that I’ll get to taste the 2013 Opalie de Château Coutet, and to that, I am looking forward. – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any specific requests in regard to tasting the barrel samples. Please know that time constraints will not allow for me to taste everything, but I will do my best to share my impressions of any particular wines you may be interested in that I do taste.

peter@wineSF.com

Click Here To Purchase 2012 Opalie de Château Coutet on Pre-Arrival


As usual, the crazy month of January has come to a close with a visit from the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux. Some members arrived Thursday, and others early Friday. We were very fortunate to co-host a dinner with Marie-Hélène Dussech from Château Brane Cantenac at Chef Gerald Hirigoyen’s “West Coast Basque” restaurant Piperade on Thursday evening. A small gathering of customers joined Marie-Hélène, Anya, a négociant, and myself and we were treated to some wonderful wines, courtesy of the Second Growth Margaux property. Served alongside Chef Gerald’s excellent pairing menu, the event was a smashing success! As was reported in a past email about New Year’s resolutions, we are already brainstorming our next event, stay tuned.

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The main event for the UGC was, of course, theunveiling of the 2012 vintage, now in bottle, to the wine trade of California and the West Coast. On Friday afternoon, hundreds of wine industry folks packed a crowded Palace Hotel for the tasting. Now remember, thesewines are mere babies, just beginning their respective lives, and many need time before they show their best. The chatter around the room seemed reflective of my own observations that the wines from Margaux, St. Julien, Barsac, and Pessac-Léognan (both red and white) showed best. As it worked out, the last dry wines I tasted were the dry whites from Pessac-Léognan. I fondlyremembered tasting them out of barrel at Château Olivier back in April of 2013, and I can now say that my instincts served me well as many of them turned out to be fine specimens of one of Bordeaux’s somewhat unheralded breeds of wine. The thing about white Bordeaux? There’s just not a lot of it. David Peppercorn MW wrote back in the 1980’s that more and more Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon vines were being uprooted in favor of red varieties and that would severely impact supply of dry white Bordeaux for decades to follow. If you’ve ever checked into the going rates for the finest white Bordeaux, you know what I’m talking about. But just as with the reds, there are values among the dry whites, and one need not drift too far from the heart of the appellation to find them.
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Whether from bottle or barrel, when I am at a UGC tasting, I have a general idea of the approximate price of the wines I’m tasting. So when I tasted the 2012 Château Carbonnieux blanc back in 2013, I was particularly taken by it. So much so that it stayed in my mind all day, availing itself for an exercise later that evening. After the long day of appointments and tastings, Ibraved the traffic on the rocade for a dinner at a château. Joining me were around 10 staff members of an American chain of wine & liquor stores. I can’t remember when during the dinner this occurred, but at one point the ringleader of this group asked everyone at the table to“defend a wine” amongst the barrel samples we tasted. They graciously went first, giving me an idea of what exactly this exercise entailed. The wines some of them “defended?”Margaux, Latour, Léoville las Cases, Cheval Blanc, and Haut-Brion. Not judging here, but I didn’t quite understand why some of Bordeaux’s most famous names needed defense. When my turn came, I stood up and proceeded to “defend” the 2012 Carbonnieux blanc. I formulated my defense initially on how dry white Bordeaux may be a bit underappreciated, and how complex and age-worthy the wines can be. Further explaining their scarcity and the lofty prices demanded by the elite, I cited the 2012 Carbonnieux as a great example of the freshness and complexity that can be found in a great dry white Pessac. Factoring in what I believed the price would be (under $50), I declared it a steal and an example of everything a dry white Bordeaux should be. Dinner’s main course was duck confit and Pauillac. At least it was until said ringleader saw what wine was to come and requested we drink gold wine from Barsac with the confit. I certainly was elated! If you haven’t tried it, just know that a wine from Barsac or a fresh Sauternes will accompany duck confit perfectly.After dinner, the large group was reunited with their driver and left the party. I said my goodbyes from the table and remained there as our hosts escorted the group outside. Once back in the château, the first words I heard were, “You know, you were the only one that defended a wine.” Perhaps I was at the time, but after having tasted the 2012 Château Carbonnieux blanc from bottle yesterday, I don’t think it needs any “defense” either!

 

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Looking back at my tasting notes from the barrel sample that inspired this (sorry) lengthy write-up, they read:” Classy Sémillon aromas – fresh, fresh, fresh – citrus, yeah – wood in check. Palate: Zippy, comes to life, intensifies, … OFF THE CHARTS!!! Very nice. I buy. Squiggly line.

 

For something more formal, here are Robert Parker’s and Neal Martin’s respective takes on the 2012 Carbonnieux:

 

Robert Parker: “Another full-throttle 2012 dry white,this 2012 offers lots of honeysuckle notes as well as a full-bodied mouthfeel and beautiful purity, elegance and length. Lemon zest, grapefruit and subtle wood characteristics are found in both the aromatic and flavor profiles. Drink this stunning Pessac-Leognan over the next 6-10 years.”

 

Neal Martin: “The Carbonnieux Blanc has a well defined bouquet with lovely scents of lime flower and orange blossom that is very well defined – more complex than recent vintages. Hints of custard cream emerge with aeration. The palate is well balanced with a pleasant fatness in the mouth. This is certainly a concentrated Carbonnieux and although I would have liked a little more acid bite on the finish, this is certainly one of the best white wines from the estate in recent years.”

 

Whew! January is always the most hectic month for me and this year was no exception. I’m just glad our Bordeaux dinner went well, and that I had a toothbrush and toothpaste handy after the UGC tasting. Today started with a huge match pitting #1 vs. #2, which ended in a draw, but in English football, a five point lead going into February is a good thing to have. If it’s your thing, have a great Super Bowl Sunday!!  May the best team win. Today’s footy was the sports highlight of the weekend for me! Tomorrow will be all about commercials and Katy Perry. – Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2012 Bordeaux, dry white Bordeaux, future events or dinners, and of course English Football: peter@wineSF.com

Château Couronneau: 2013 Blanc & 2012 Rouges

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 10:07 PM

 

Wow! Can it possibly be? Is Labor Day THIS weekend??!!??That means that we are two weeks away from the landing of another container here at TWH. This container is carrying Bordeaux! In addition to the 2011’s on it, there will be a handful of petits chateaux, or value Bordeaux landing here as well. We look forward to telling you all about them when the time comes. In the meantime, from the container that just recently arrived, we are happy to present the latest releases from our pals Christophe and Bénédicte Piat and their Château Couronneau.

 

We’ve mentioned before that the Piats have been farming organically since 2001, and they have proudly sported the Agricole Biologique banner on the side of the driveway leading up to their chateau. In addition, Christophe and Bénédicte have been farming biodynamically for several vintages. I remember Christophe excitingly showing off his swirling fountains, bulls’ horns, and the like when I visited in 2011. One must practice this technique for several years before actual certification. The good news: Beginning with the 2012 vintage, they are now allowed the Demeter certification on their labels.

 

Okay. Why biodynamism? What exactly is biodynamic farming? For more on that here’s what our colleague, Tom discovered:

“Biodynamics is a form of organic agriculture proposed in the 1920s by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. The core of biodynamics is creating healthy soils and a natural equilibrium between vineyards, the soil, surrounding environs, and even the cosmos. The most intriguing aspect of bio-farming is the mystical notion that natural timing and the rhythms of nature are the key to vineyard health. To accomplish this, biodynamic grape growers go beyond organic farming and feed the soil with complex organic preparations.

 

Key applications include horn-dung (manure packed in a bull’s horn and buried through winter) used as a soil spray to stimulate root growth. A second preparation, horn-silica, is made from powdered quartz (packed in a cow horn and buried in soil over the summer) then sprayed over the vineyard to enhance light and growth. Other preparations used in making compost aid the soil. Growers mix small amounts of the preparations in water to make these field sprays. Stirring, first one way and then another, creates a spiral vortex that takes in air and nature’s energy forces and is said to ‘dynamize’ the solution. These preparations are applied at different times of the year and at different times of the day and phases of the moon.

 

The amazing thing is, it seems to work. Biodynamic farming creates deep microbial life in the soil and fosters deep root growth. Deep, healthy roots absorb the minerals vital to strong vines and ultimately grapes with more flavor. Deep-rooted vines enable winemakers to express through their grapes wines with a sense of place.”

 

Okay, about the new wines: When I visited this past spring, Christophe told me that for his 2013 Bordeaux Blanc, 70% of the fruit underwent malolactic fermentation, resulting in a fresher wine with a little more nerve than past vintages. It’s a lively and expressive blend of 50/50 Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris, the latter providing the wine with roundness and body. Coming in at 12% alcohol, it’s an elegant wine; perfect for those who love a second glass of crisp White Bordeaux. For the2012 Couronneau Rouge or “Classique,” it’s 100% Merlot, and is brimming with friendly, juicy fruit that speaks of its place of origin. Underneath the layers of red and purple fruit lie earthy tones and hints of forest floor. It’s an excellent example of the style of wine to expect from 2012 Red Bordeaux. Showing concentrated aromatics with juicy expression, the wines will provide pleasure early, yet have the structure to improve with medium term cellaring. For the 2012 Cuvée Pierre de Cartier, the Piats use fruit sourced from the oldest vines grown in limestone rich soils. The wine is inky purple, glass-staining, if you will. The aromas deep and lush with a little spice derived from time in barrique. On the palate, the wine is dense and concentrated, but has a silkiness to it that’s very pleasant. Definitely the prize of the Couronneau stable, the 2012 Pierre de Cartier is a people-pleaser for a very fair, direct-import price. If you’re planning to open it soon, decanting is advised. Otherwise, drink it over the next 10 years. – PZ
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