Here’s to hoping everyone made it through St. Patrick’s Day okay! Wait a minute, St. Patrick’s Day? Wow, time is really flying now. It just occurred to me that the next time I chime in with a Sunday email,I will do so from a hotel room in Bordeaux. Yep, it’s that time of year again; I still have a couple of loose ends to tie up, but I’m pretty much ready to head across the pond to taste the red, white, and gold wines from the 2011 vintage out of barrel. You know I’m a bit of a wine geek, doing things like encouraging people to drink Riesling with their corned beef and cabbage, for instance, but my passion and devotion in the wine world is found along the banks of, and further inland of the magical estuary known as the Gironde. Bordeaux. For me, it’s the beginning and end of every story. For me, it’s all I want; all I need.


It was around 2 years ago when I jetted off to Bordeaux to taste the massively successful 2009 vintage out of barrel, and as I’ve said before, no wine cellar would be complete without representation from this illustrious vintage. As was mentioned in my previous Sunday email, Robert Parker’s ratings of 2009 Bordeaux out of bottle were released at the end of last month, with a remarkable 19 wines earning his highest praise. Say what you will, and it’s all been said, but I drink wine, NOT points. One wine that struck a strong chord within me was the 2009 Château Cantemerle. I know this property well, as it sits just south of Margaux in the Haut-Médoc. One of my best pals and bandmates turned me on to the stuff when he lived in London and regularly sought advice from the staff at his local Nicolas shop in Notting Hill. Another pal of mine was generous enough to invite me over to his home on my last birthday and pop a bottle of Cantemerle’s 1983. If you can get your hands on one of those, I strongly recommend you do! Surely, someday I believe the 2009 version will trump that 1983 experience. The wine has it all. My usually reserved tasting notes seem to have been written by a teenager on the last day of school before the summer. The famous squiggly line, exclamation points, and the phrase “Home Run” jump off the page. But a closer look reveals words like nuanced, elegant, fresh and silky. It is abundantly clear that I was highly impressed with the 2009 Cantemerle. When you consider the price, compared to the other Cru Classé wines, this was a no-brainer. When I returned from the 2009 UGC tasting in Los Angeles, David asked me if there were any wines that we should be buying more of. Without thinking, without consulting any of my notes, and without hesitation, I said, “Cantemerle and La Lagune” (more on that one later). Wham! Bam! A few days later, several more cases were confirmed from our sources in Bordeaux, and I’m so excited knowing that they will be arriving sometime this year! Dismiss at your own peril.


2009 Chateau Cantemerle Haut Medoc (Pre-Arrival)

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
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“Readers looking for the more ethereal, elegant side of Bordeaux need search no further than Cantemerle, one of the estates in the very southern end of the Medoc. Dense ruby/purple (nearly opaque), this wine offers up notes of lead pencil shavings, spring flowers, raspberries and black cherries. The wine is ethereal, medium-bodied, and by no means a blockbuster, but long and intellectual. However, the tannins are present, and the wine is certainly capable of putting on weight with time in the bottle. Give it 3-4 years of bottle age and drink it over the following 25+ years. 91+ points” – Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate



Châteaux Cantemerle and La Lagune are 2 of only 5 properties awarded Cru Classé status in the 1855 classification that are not from the Médoc’s most-famous appellations (both are Haut-Médoc). Situated nearby Cantemerle, La Lagune is one of my favorite, favorite “under the radar” Bordeaux properties. It has been for some time now, but all of a sudden, in the past 4 months, it has exploded, as everywhere I look, there it is again. Seriously, it all started with 10 bottles of the 1985 (until 2009, my favorite vintage) that we purchased from a private cellar. I know the wine, it was priced $300 lower than Chateau Margaux of the same year, but it is every bit as enjoyable. A couple of customers listened to my advice, and they were very pleased. Then, a customer and his father came in and tried one. The phone rang an hour later, the customer’s father had declared it “the best wine I’ve ever had”, and now he is a customer too! In fact, he scooped up what was remaining, and sampled the 2006 which was much to his liking. Then I was having lunch with my sister at The Left Bank in Larkspur, and there was a large table of older gentlemen conducting a wine tasting. Without craning my neck too much, I saw some familiar fancy California labels, but I didn’t want to gawk, so I let my curiosity dissipate while enjoying my visit with my sister. Our server, and that of the table of wine tasters, is a friend of mine, so when the tasting finished and the large table emptied, I asked her about the wines. Turning my head completely around, I looked and there it was, a bottle of La Lagune. I asked to see the bottle, and she brought it to me. 1986. And there was still wine in it, which she permitted me to taste. Magnificent! Time had been good to this bottle. I couldn’t help noticing the back label which clearly stated, “Imported by Wine House Limited.” A couple of weeks ago, I arrived at work and as I signed in to my work email account, there was an email from a representative from La Lagune inviting me to the Chateau when I visit later this month, spooky. My schedule is pretty tight, but I’m trying to figure out how to fit it in. But back to the L.A. tasting. If I thought the Cantemerle tasting notes were written by a teenager, then the La Lagune notes were written by an exuberant lottery winner. 2 squiggly lines … I believe that this is the ONLY time I’ve ever done that, “Good God! Vitamin-like minerals, rich, deep, dark red and purple fruit, great weight, sublime!” I don’t know what winning the lottery feels like, but while tasting the 2009 La Lagune, I think I have an idea.
2009 Chateau La Lagune Haut Medoc (Pre-Arrival)

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
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“It is not unusual that the 2009 La Lagune is a spectacular effort given the fact that this estate has been making terrific wines over the last decade or more. It boasts a dense purple color as well as a beautiful perfume of blueberries, mulberries, cassis, white chocolate and subtle toasty oak. Notes of Chinese black tea, cedarwood and forest floor also make an appearance in the singular aromatic and flavor profiles. This sumptuous, full-bodied La Lagune possesses low acidity, abundant but ripe, sweet tannin and a long, 45-second finish. Give this beauty 5-7 years of bottle age and drink it over the following three decades. 95 points” – Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate
So there you have it, 2 Cru Classé Left Bank Bordeaux from the 2009 vintage that are way long on quality and more than reasonable in price. Alas, here we are in mid-March. I’m all set for another scouting mission to my favorite wine region on the planet. I promise to take more pictures and post them on our Facebook page. I promise to taste more wines than last year. I will be a good boy and make all of my appointments on time, just like last year. Lastly, I promise not to be too distracted at the Commanderie dinner, fully knowing that my team will be playing the deciding match of the European Champions’ League Quarter Finals that evening. Scout’s honor!Peter Zavialoff