The other issue that counts against Bordeaux’s popularity at most tastings is its affinity with food. It takes a little practice to appreciate the nuances of young Bordeaux tasted in isolation. When you taste it with a meal, however, it’s as if a lightbulb flashes on and suddenly everything becomes clear. That was the logic behind this tasting dinner, plus it was a great chance for Ben and Mark to show off their buying skills!
Delamotte Brut NV
Delamotte is a name that will be unfamiliar to most, but, as you would expect from the sister wine of Salon, its quality is unquestionable. A long established label in its own right, Delamotte also uses fruit from Salon’s younger vines as well as wines that don’t quite reach the exacting standards of what is probably the finest of all Champagnes. Predominantly grand cru Chardonnay (50%), the balance being Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (30% and 20% respectively), this was bright, fresh and beautifully rounded, not at all aggressive. The rich flavours of white stone fruit and citrus, plus a gentle yeasty autolytic character, made it a beautiful apéritif. A very classy wine and a real bargain (£30/bottle, £60/magnum) when compared to a lot of the Grandes Marques’ non-vintage offerings.
|Château Des Antonins|
|L’Esprit De Chevalier|
|Château Roc De|
Graves De Vayres
Fût De Chêne
Du Blanc 2008
The third red was Château Barrail Du Blanc 2008 (13.5% ABV, 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc, £17.50), a Saint-Émilion Grand Cru exclusively distributed the Mouiex family that owns Châteaux Pétrus, La Fleur-Pétrus, Hosanna, Trotanoy, and Magdelaine to name just a few! Despite an annual production of only around 1,500 cases, there has been substantial recent investment in completely refurbishing the estate’s cellar enabling a traditional style winemaking to continue at the highest quality level. Sixty per cent of the wine is matured in oak, half of which is new, whilst the remainder goes into stainless steel.
It displayed soft red and black fruit with a dusting of pepper and capsicum spice from the Cabernet Franc. Less overtly fruity and oaky than the last wine, it had an astringent/medicinal touch to the finish that I really rather enjoyed. The most interesting of the three reds and my favourite, even though its lighter style couldn’t compete with the beef.
Cheese was served instead of dessert, the Stilton being a better match for the Sauternes than the Mrs. Kirkham Lancashire. I was unsure about the choice of Château De Rayne Vigneau 2003 (13.5% ABV, 80% Sémillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc, £25) due to the abnormal heat of the vintage. Was there going to be sufficient acidity? Had the heat hampered the growth of botrytis? The amber hue of the wine didn’t do much to allay my worries, but the nose was certainly promising with its rich aromas of barley sugar, dried apricot, marmalade and ripe mango. Similar flavours carried through to the palate, balanced by an unexpectedly taut acidity that kept it vital. It was definitely as good as it will get so plan to drink up any bottles you might have, but it was an exceedingly pleasant drink and a very agreeable surprise.
The only thing I felt that was missing was a Cabernet Sauvignon dominated, left bank style of Bordeaux which would have been an interesting contrast to the Merlot based blends shown as well as a great pairing with the beef. That being said, it's always an adventure to tread the path less travelled and I'm not sure I would have tried the selection above if left to my own devices. A big thank you once again to Ben and to Mark, our ever charming and informative host, for a very enjoyable evening.