It’s time for selecting wines
for the onslaught of holiday events, and I will recommend a few here as well as
some more next month.
I grew up in a house where Chateauneuf-Du-Pape was the king of wine, and big events always included a
bottle of the Popes wine. It is probably for this reason that when I think of the big Thanksgiving meal I think of Chateauneuf. I find turkey to be on the bland side, and the complex spices and flavors of Chateauneuf-Du-Pape are a great compliment to what is otherwise just a bird looking for mayonnaise. Not many wine experts make this pairing and perhaps I’m the only one who appreciates the combination, but it works for me and I invite you to try it. Located in the southern Rhone, northern Provence region of France, this small area produces some fabulous and elegant wines. One great wine from here is the 2003 Clos Saint Michel. This wine is elegant, complex and fills your pallet with beautiful Asian spices, slight hints of mushrooms and a soft finish of ripe berries. I took this to a dinner party last week and it received rave reviews from everyone there.
For those of you who depend
on this column to recommend great Bordeaux, I have two favorites that I tasted again this month that are truly worth mentioning again and are ready to drink now. They are both from the 2001 vintage and are very different from each other, but nonetheless excellent. The first is the 2001 Lafon Rochet from St. Estephe. This fabulous wine has classic oak, wet hay and mushrooms on the front, and lingers with hints of cigar box and smoke on the finish. The wine changed as it opened up and was a blockbuster.
The second Bordeaux is a 2001 Chateau Gloria from St. Julien. This is a slightly softer wine with more fruit on the front end, but developed as it opened up to earth, smoke and barnyard. These are both wines that you sip slowly to experience all of the complexity of flavors they have to offer and wish you had more when they are finished.
As with any vintage, not all
2001’s are great. I don’t like to use this space to be negative about wines, but when I find a wine that I’ve paid a fair amount of money for and it’s not that great, then I will pass it on. A friend and I each bought a bottle of wine from the same chateau, in different vintages, to taste both the similarities and differences from the winemaker. We chose the 1998 and 2001 Chateau Clerc Milon (owned and operated by the Mouton Rothschild family) and compared them side by side. Both wines were disappointing at best. They were thin and lacked complexity, and while I’m a big fan of it’s sister wine – Chateau d’Armailhac- these wines were not worth the $45 price tag. There are so many other great Bordeaux at this price point that it is particularly disappointing when you taste one that compares
more favorably to something under $20.
As always I try to find some very good wines in the under $20 range and this month I have two that are outstanding. The first is the 2000 Chateau Tanesse ($13) from Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux and the second is the 2000 Chateau La Croix Melin ($18) from St. Emilion. These are both lovely wines, with classic <st1:city w:st="on"Bordeaux black fruit and barnyard, but as expected at this price, not particularly dense and overpowering. They are both from the great 2000 vintage and are worth buying by the case in order to have that heart-healthy glass of wine every night.
One last note for those of
you in the St. Louis area who are looking for a great selection of Bordeaux. I stopped by the Wine Chateau in Chesterfield a couple of weeks ago and was amazed at how much of the 2003 vintage they had in stock. This was the year of the severe heat in France and some producers made fantastic wines. The wines tend to be more “new world” in style, but have the complexity of Bordeaux as they open up and breathe. They can be enjoyed now or laid down to mature and my advice is to do some of each. Brian has done a great job of assembling some outstanding wines from this vintage at good prices and it will be worth your time to see what he has in stock.