2003 Ch. De France 2003 was the year of the heat wave in France that killed a lot of people. The heat made for very dense grapes and thus the 2003 vintage is big and quite fruity. The 2003 Ch. De France is drinking nicely now, and shows good balance, and interesting structure along with its dense fruit. It is slightly “new world” and is not particularly “barnyardy,” making it a good “introduction to Bordeaux” and a crowd favorite.
1998 Ch. Simard – One of the interesting things about Chateau Simard is that they do not release their wine until 10 years after the vintage. Good Bordeaux usually takes ten years to reach its peak, so with the Simard you typically get a wine that is ready to drink. While I loved the ’90, the ’95 was disappointing for the vintage. The ’98 is a very good wine in an otherwise light vintage. It has the wet hay and oak flavors, with slight green pepper on the pallet, and is smooth and complex. I really like this wine and serve it when I want to show a side of Bordeaux most people have never experienced.
2003 Les Fiefs de Lagrange – This is the second wine of Chateau Lagrange, and for regular readers you know how much I like the seconds. There is great fruit on this wine, and is another example of the heat wave that made the ’03 vintage so big and dense. The wine has a hint of tannins and good structure that lingers on your pallet. This is a good value wine to drink now.
1995 Pavillion Rouge – Another “second” – this one from Chateau Margaux – is perfect now. I have been waiting for the ‘95’s to be ready to drink and I think they have reached their time. This wine has smooth tannins and the perfect balance you expect from a first growth. Beautiful back fruits and hints of oak and smoke make this wine beautifully complex and a quintessential example of great Bordeaux. The finish lingers on and on and I only wish I had another case of this fantastic wine.
2005 Coudoulet de Beaucastel – Still another “second” this time from the fabulous Chateau de Beaucaster in Chateauneuf du Pape. This wine doesn’t get the Chateauneuf designation however, and is simply labled “Cotes du Rhone.” Nonetheless, it is strongly reminiscent of it’s superior first label big brother and is a great value. You can taste all of the elements of Beaucastel – the earth, spice and black olives - but not in the intensity that the first label has. For Cotes du Rhone fans this is a wonderful buy that still needs a little time in the bottle to reach its full potential.