Last week's first Thursday night wine blogging was so delightful.....well, for me at least.......that I thought I'd do installment two tonight.
As you'll recall, when we last left off I opened a nice bottle from the Rhone region of France, that was moderately priced below 20, American. The wine was an excellent example of why I've come to appreciate the French approach to wine making in that it displayed a delicate complexity that in my view is hard to find in similarly priced American wines. In fact, I'd argue that American wines in this price range tend to be quite similar, whereas French wines display more finess and character. If this is why you drink wine, and you can't afford more for a weekday snort (and really, who can?) then I would suggest drinking French most often.
Tonight, a little something different. To celebrate (or is it morn?) my last weeknight with no gainful employment the following morn, I thought we'd venture up in price and complexity to the St. Emilion region of Bourdeax.
The Wine: Clos De L'Oratoire 2000
I'm expecting some very good things here. First St. Emilion is my second favorite Bourdeax area, Margaux being the first. Secondly, St. Emilion as a medium bodied example of the Bourdeaxs stands well as a drinking wine. Thirdly, Clos De L'Oratoire is a "Grand Cru Classe" wine, and is considered to be one of the finest of the region. Finally, 2000 was a knock out vintage, perhaps the best since '82 or even '61 if you listen to those who claim to know about this sort of thing.
As you'd expect we're paying for this experience. I almost always try to keep my non-occassion wine consumption expense to less than 25 American per bottle. So tonight, I've contrived a celebratory event which doesn't justify the $69 bucks this baby cost, but it at least provides an excuse.
St. Emilion is the oldest of the Bourdeax regions. A little research yields the insight that the town is named after a Hermit that lived there in the 7th or 8th century. While many, or perhaps most Bourdeax wines use Cabernet Saugvignon as their primary grape, St. Emilion focuses on Merlot, since the area is among the first in Bourdeax to get frost, and Merlot ripens earlier than Cabernet. Some more history on the town can be found here.
Enough of all that, lets pop this baby open.
The cork looks fine, and a hearty "pop" announced the opening.
Lets pour a bit
I'm getting a hearty nose, a bit of tannic scent and forest sort of smell that is nice. As I write this the tast of berries is in my mouth, although I have not had a sip yet. Let try another whiff. If I didn't know better I'd say there was a little Grenache in this, but I don't think it is used as a blending grape in this wine. It is opening as I type, so lets get to the first taste.
Whoo, this baby is tight. Tannins are farely pronounced right now, the mouth is quite lengthy. As the tannins fade I'm left with some vanilla, tobacco and cherry. It really needs to breathe a bit though, so I'm going to pout a glass and lay off for about 15 minutes. One thing I'll note is the color of the bubbles that circle the top of the glass when it is poured. They are a deep red, quite different than last week's wine or my other typical weekday bottles. Ok, I'll be back in 15.
Alright it has been about 13 minutes and I'm getting anxious so lets have a little taste, shall we? First the nose, I'm getting much more sense of the grape now. The tannins have receded a bit, and the fruit is more pronounced. Taking a sip; this is nice....the wine has relaxed a bit and the like the nose, the taste has much more fruit. Cherry, some berrys and a lasting mouth of vanilla. The wine is quite smooth, but I would have expected a little more structure, perhaps that will develop.
The nose continues to develop and has taken on a smoky scent that compliments the fruit. There is some pepper as well. This wine is definately alive! The bottle has now been open for about 40 minutes and some layers of taste are now begining to develop, I'll try to describe them...cherry with some berry on the front, that then yields to smoke that seems to fill the mouth, finally a sense of vanilla is left that lasts and lasts, changing slowly to almost a port flavor.
This is clearly a Merlot based wine with the cherry front, and I'm thinking the smoke is coming from a Cabernet Franc. I'd be shocked if there wasn't some Carbernet Sauvignon in there as well, but to be honest I'm not sure I'm tasting it so much as I know it is likely to be in there. I think the Grenache that I thought I smelled earlier is really that Cab Franc. Man, I gotta tell you this is full sensory experience. I haven't had a drink in five minutes and my mouth is still alive with flavor!
This is a very nice wine. Worth $70? I don't know, is any wine worth that much money? Probably not in the pure economic sense, but this wine delivers structure, full bodied flavor, and a overall sensory experience that transcends the nose and mouth and fills the taster with a full wine drinking experience. Yes, I would definately by this wine again. I'd pair it with any red meat, and definately roasted foul. Here is another mini review that I was able to find while sipping. I'm signing off, and will enjoy a couple more sips.