We had just finished my first vertical tasting of Linne Calodo Nemesis, and I was lamenting how I'd like to do that with the great wines of France and Italy... you know, in the interest of science.
Anyway, lo and behold.. happy Valentines Day to me!
So these 4 Bordeaux selections were not the extreme high end that is possible when buying Bordeaux. But for under $20 they were a good start, and since I'm familiar with California wines for the same price, it would be a great comparison.
But first the contestants, all from the Médoc. Apparently the Médoc, and more specifically the Haut-Médoc, is where the real stuff is.
All wines were opened, decanted through a screen to filter the sediment, and left to "breathe" for 10 minutes before being poured back into the bottle from whence they came. And this was all two hours before tasting. All tasted in a Bordeaux/Cabernet glass. I don't know the actual varietal breakdown in these wines, however. The French bottles just don't have that info.
2005 Sarget de Graud Larose, St-Julien $20
(Second wine from the Gruad Larose Estate) This wine was the most expensive at $20. When first tasted, this was the least favorite. The body was thin and it was very acidic, but over the next 4 or five days it became the favorite, as the others lost their fruit and body and became icky. The Sarget actually developed quite well! After only one day it had a great body, the acid was almost completely gone, and the nose opened up with some nice earthy, brambly stuff. I would definitely buy this one again, but open it a day before I wanted to drink it.
2001 Chateau Verdignan Rouge, Haut-Médoc $15
This wine was also acidic at first. In fact, it was our 2nd least favorite..... until the next day, then it developed and became our 2nd FAVORITE. Just like the Sarget, but the Verdignan was more "food friendly," meaning it had a bit more tannic edge, but when drank with food it really added to the dinner experience... or lunch experience.
2005 Prieur de Meyney, St-Estéphe $13
This is the second wine from the estate of Ch. Meyney, and we liked this one 2nd BEST when first tasted it. This one actually held up well over the rest of the week, and for the price it's a great bargain. It went well with food and by itself. Good fruit, structure, and not too acidic. I'm still on the fence as to which one I like more, the Meyney or the Verdignan......
2004 Mille Roses, Haut-Médoc $11
This was our favorite wine when first sampled, but as you can probably guess, our LEAST favorite the next day, and the next. This one was very fruity (some would say, "Californian") but lost all of its structure and fruit very quickly over the next day. Robert Parker said: "ruby/purple-tinged, medium bodied. Equal blend of Cabernet Savignon and Merlot. Excellent aromas of dried cherries, currants, and cranberries, and loamy soil marry nicely with the wines excellent texture and overall symmetry. Consume it over the next 4-5 years." I would agree with most of that, but I say drink it over the next 4-5 hours!
So!! French Bordeaux, all it's cracked up to be? Hmmm, I will admit that I prefer california wines still, even at this price point. But overall impressions and sweeping generalizations are that French wine more about an addition to food (like Italian wine), but so far they don't hold up being open for more than one day (though I do use the Vaccu-Vin to try and keep wine from being destroyed by oxygen - I swear by them!). It's important! Think about it, how many times have you put down a whole bottle at dinner, I mean without 4 friends, just you and your sig-other? For me, California wines have just as much structure and character, maybe a little more "fruit-forward," but I don't think the new world wines should have such an inferiority complex.