No doubt you’ve been hearing a lot about our recent foray into the world of the petit chateau lately, and we wouldn’t be so dang outspoken about these wines if we weren’t so excited about the results! Your collective response has been amazing! Putting high-quality Bordeaux into your hands for a very reasonable price has caused a great many to come back and reorder resulting in the nearly sold-out status for 2 of the 4 wines already! There is one more wine of this quartet that we haven’t yet told you all about, until now. In many ways, this could be the most elegant wine of the bunch, the 2009 Château La Fleur Grands Landes.

In a great vintage like 2009, everyone in Bordeaux was blessed with ideal weather. It is in those kind of vintages that the playing field levels a bit, because there’s little need for expense in the vineyard if everything is going fine throughout the season. Some of the off-the-radar producers are capable of making some great wine. We asked for 24 samples, of which 21 were red wines. We chose only 4. The 2009 Château La Fleur Grands Landes is one of them. A little online research does actually reveal a little bit about this chateau, perhaps because it has been in one family since the 1700’s. But a check with reveals that TWH is the only merchant in the USA with this wine.  Located in the appellation of Montagne St. Emilion, the property is now run by Isabelle Fort and her husband, Jean-Philippe. Jean-Philippe is a former oenology instructor, and is part of Michel Rolland’s viticultural team. The property consists of 7.7 hectares planted on slopes of clay; the average age of the vines is 35 years. The fruit was picked at optimal ripeness levels, all by hand. For the 2009 Château La Fleur Grands Landes, 80% Merlot was used, as well as 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Approximately 20% of the fermented juice is aged in barrel, which imparts a subtle complexity and texture to the wine. When our staff tasted it, we liked a lot about it. It has great aromatics; spicy, dark purple fruit, hints of herbs, forest floor, and tobacco. It enters the palate in a silky, elegant fashion. That’s the word that best sums up this wine: elegant. Its is complex, yet seamless; everything in perfect harmony. The finish is very much like the rest of the package, a harmonious expression of fruit, spice, and tannin, all buoyed by fresh, lively acidity. It’s the most Burgundian of our 4 new value Bordeaux imports.

As reported, we greatly appreciate your response to this concept, and its subsequent offerings. It seems a great many of you appreciate good quality Bordeaux, and are willing to try wines from off-the-radar chateaux; just like our staff! There will be more wines like these coming soon, when they do, we’ll be sure to tell you all about them. In the mean time, if you like elegant, silky red Bordeaux that won’t break the bank, you should try the 2009 Château La Fleur Grands Landes! – PZ

2009 Chateau La Fleur Boireau

Saturday, July 13, 2013 6:46 PM

San Francisco – July 5th. We hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day! The weather here in the Bay Area was beautiful, and we witnessed plenty of evidence that many folks were busy tending to their respective grills. If you’re among the lucky ones enjoying an extra-long holiday weekend (we’re not, but someone has to keep the shop open!), then we invite you to stop on by for a visit as we are open today, July 5th until 6pm. We’ll be open tomorrow, July 6th from 10am until 5pm. We will be closed, as usual, on Sunday.  We recently reported about the creation of a value Bordeaux section here alongside the more famous Cru Classé Bordeaux wines. Again, the concept: We sat down with a visiting Bordeaux negociant and selected 24 wines that seemed interesting from their catalog. The negoce shipped us one bottle each, and over a month long stretch, TWH gang tasted and retasted all of the wines. Of the 24 that we received, we chose 6. Today, we’ll focus on one of the 4 reds chosen, the 2009 Château La Fleur Boireau from Montagne St. Emilion.

A little online research doesn’t reveal very much on the wine, only a few reviews from other wine merchants who at one time stocked the 2009 La Fleur Boireau. As of today, on, we are the only merchant in the country with this wine. After reading the reviews from some of the other merchants, we agree with the consensus that this wine is a great value. It was interesting to note that some of those other merchants who were proclaiming this wine “a steal” were selling it for a much higher price! Being the importer helps, big time.

When our staff embarks on a tasting exercise evaluating potential candidates to import and stock, we taste them over the course of the day noting any changes as the wines are exposed to oxygen. The unwritten rule is that nothing is discussed until everyone has tasted the samples and then we begin to share our opinions. These discussions usually lead us all back to the tasting table to re-taste the wines after we hear each other’s opinions. We liked the 2009 Château La Fleur Boireau for a few reasons, price being one of them. The wine possesses the charm and structure of the 2009 vintage. The aromas are of dark berry cassis-like fruit, chalky mineral, spice, and a leathery component that I like to call “that Bordeaux funk.” It’s an interesting juxtaposition of “old school” meets modern times. On the palate, the wine is lush and velvety, medium to full bodied, with a good balance of expressive fruit and rustic Old World charm. The finish is fairly long, with the dark brambly fruit propped up by lively acidity and velvety tannins.Château La Fleur Boireau is located in the appellation of Montagne St. Emilion on Bordeaux’s Right Bank. The vineyard lies in the western part of the appellation just adjacent to Lalande de Pomerol. The blend is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc and the wine is made in cement vats. The fruit comes from vines 30+ years old, grown on a clay/calcareous slope. Checking my own tasting notes, I admired the briary, expressive fruit, chalky mineral, and the hint of rusticity. Stylistically, I have an appreciation for “Old-School” Bordeaux. It was quite evident that over the course of the day, that leathery, “Bordeaux funkiness” blew off. All in all, we liked the complexity, style, structure, and best of all, price of the 2009 Château La Fleur Boireau. 

So yes, it took us a month to taste all of those samples, and we have repeated the exercise with a similar line-up of wines from a different negociant. So our value Bordeaux section is set to expand later this summer. We’re always looking for great new wines to put on our shelves, and sometimes we have to taste through many suboptimal wines to find the good ones. Or as Anya said, “We taste a lot of bad wine so you don’t have to.” – Peter Zavialoff

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