This Week’s Wine Tasting
William Harrison Imports
Chateau Pierre Riviere Alienor Blanc 2013
Bordeaux A.O.C. A blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
“The Bordeaux Blanc appellation covers all three growing areas, Médoc/Left Bank of the Garonne, Entre-Deux-Mers (although this term is used optionally only for white Bordeaux of this area), and the Dordogne/Right Bank, with the most whites coming from southern Médoc and Entre-Deux-Mers. Depending on the locale, the Bordeaux appellation can have any of these typical soil types: clayey-limestone (right bank near Libourne and Entre-Deux-Mers; siliceous soils with clay and calcareous elements; palus or marshy lands that are alluvial soil, rich, deep and heavy, found also in valleys; ‘graves’ soil made up of gravel, rolled quartz, and large grain soil (an excellent soil); and ‘boulbènes’, a soil made up of extremely fine siliceous elements that make a tight, beaten earth (not ideal soil). In general, it is not allowed since 1995 to use a varietal name on the main label for Bordeaux appellation wines, with the exception being the use of ‘sauvignon’ for whites as long as the letters are printed in smaller type, but in the same style and color as the appellation. These whites are marked by aromas of citrus and their flowers, often of grapefruit, with a stony, mineral body and vibrant acidity. The amount of body and mid-palate texture depends on the soil, more gravely typically yields lighter body and more aromatics, more clay and or limestone adds more mouth-feel as do higher percentages of Semillon and/or Muscadelle. These wines are notable for their exceptional balance and length.”
“ALIENOR is a tribute to Aliénor of Aquitaine and to the substantive contribution she made to the fine wines of Bordeaux when, eight weeks after the annulment of her first marriage with Louis VII King of France, she married her second husband Henry Plantagenêt in 1152, soon crowned Henry II King of England in 1154, and ascended the throne of the Kingdom of England after once being Queen of France.
As Queen of England, Aliénor shared the sustaining traditions of her native Aquitaine by turning vast areas of France, among them the region of Bordeaux, into English territory. During her reign, grape production and wine export, already an important part of everyday life in Bordeaux, grew to levels unequalled before or since.
Queen Aliénor’s remarkable contributions to Bordeaux in the 12th century deserve ongoing and contemporary recognition, which we offer in this bottle of Grand Vin. An accomplishment in the spirit of Aliénor, prepared in a tenor steeped in the traditions of Saint-Emilion wines, yet informed by centuries of practice and refinement, the wine itself is dernier cri that retains the finer qualities of that which has since been all but forgotten by the world outside Aquitaine.”
Chateau Pierre Lurton Marjosse Blanc 2013
Entre Deux Mers, Bordeaux. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle.
“In Entre-Deux-Mers or ‘between the two seas, the white wines can be called either Bordeaux Blanc or Entre-Deux-Mers. This area probably produces most of the whites of the Bordeaux appellation.. Depending on the locale, the Entre-Deux-Mers appellation can have any of these typical soil types: clayey-limestone (right bank near Libourne and Entre-Deux-Mers; siliceous soils with clay and calcareous elements; palus or marshy lands that are alluvial soil, rich, deep and heavy, found also in valleys; ‘graves’ soil made up of gravel, rolled quartz, and large grain soil (an excellent soil); and ‘boulbènes’, a soil made up of extremely fine siliceous elements that make a tight, beaten earth (not ideal soil). In general, it is not allowed since 1995 to use a varietal name on the main label for Bordeaux appellation wines, with the exception being the use of ‘sauvignon’ for whites as long as the letters are printed in smaller type, but in the same style and color as the appellation. These whites are marked by aromas of citrus and their flowers, often of grapefruit, with a stony, mineral body and vibrant acidity. The amount of body and mid-palate texture depends on the soil, more gravely typically yields lighter body and more aromatics, more clay and or limestone adds more mouth-feel as do higher percentages of Semillon and/or Muscadelle. These wines are notable for their exceptional balance and length.”
Chateau Arnaud 2010
Bordeaux Superieur. 70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc. Traditionnal vinification within 3 weeks with an gently extraction of tannins. Bottled at the chateau after 2 years.
“Appellations Bordeaux Supérieur and Bordeaux are the largest category of Bordeaux wines, accounting for over 50 per cent of all Bordeaux appellations. They have the same varieties of grapes as regular Bordeaux: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and occasionally Malbec and Petit Verdot. The geographical area of the Bordeaux Supérieur is the same as Bordeaux, but by law, the wines have lower yields, a higher minimum requirement of alcoholic content (a consequence of warmer, better vineyard sites) and usually older vines. They show more complexity, power and richness than appellation Bordeaux wines, and typically require (but not always) a slightly higher price. They age 3-5 years easily, a year or two more than Bordeaux appellations. The acres planted as Bordeaux Supérieur amount to close to 12 thousand hectares or close to 31 thousand acres. Pair these wines with roast chicken, lighter red meats, charcuterie or cheese.”
(Solid cases in wooden crate.)
Chateau Haut Piquat 2010
Lussac Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux.
“One of the oldest historical features of Lussac is the Gallic megalith centered in a small oak wood called the ‘Tertre de Picambeau’, where rites were celebrated before the Christian era. It is believed to have been constructed around 3000 B.C. During the Gallo-Roman period, someone named Lucius or Lucciacus was the one to first plant vines on the surrounding hillsides. The estate bore his name and the original boundaries of this hamlet. Around the eleventh century, the Cistercian order settled in the area and nurtured the vineyards to give Lussac its initial reputation for wine. Their abbot, the baron de Lussac, payed homage to his superiors, the archbishops of Bordeaux, who served the wine to their guests. During the late Middle Ages, this area was overrun by Barbarians and it suffered from numerous wars. It wasn’t until late in the 13th century that the vineyards were slowly rebuilt, and it took a few more centuries for the wines to reclaim the reputation that they had centuries earlier. The appellation has a gravelly and sandy/gravel plateau to the west of the village, limestone to the east, heavy clay soil to the north and clayey-limestone to the southeast much like Saint-Émilion.”
“The density of planting is 5400 vines per hectare, with plateau and sloping terrain. The vines are 20 years old on average and harvesting is done by hand. Thermo-regulated vats keep the temperatures correct for maximum fruit extraction. Vinification lasts 21 days before the aging in oak barrels and vats for 18 months. The wine is a delightful blend of modern and traditional styles with a bouquet of ripe red fruits on the nose with a smooth, earthy and silky mid-palate with ample structure and a lengthy finish. It is an elegant and sophisticated wine, reasonably priced, that does not need a special event to be enjoyed.”
Chateau a Fleur des Ormes 2011
“Rock and soil conditions on the plateau known as Pomerol are ideal for growing vines, but scarcely anything else. Where nearby the soil consists of surface limestone, here in Pomerol, that was scraped away many eras ago and replaced here by gravel, pebbles of granite and flint, intermixed with wind-blown sand and sometimes remnants of the limestone soil. These wines have a rich, ruby color, a suave, almost ‘animal’ bouquet, and a long, smooth finish.”
“Owned by M. Gros, the Château Fleur des Ormes (which means the flower of the elm trees in French), this small estate covers 7 hectares or about 18 acres and is planted to 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc.
This particular parcel is made up of siliceous clayey limestone, with the vines averaging 30 years of age and a typical yield of 45 hectoliters per hectare. The grapes are hand-picked and then are sent to the sorting table where they are sorted prior to being de-stemmed. After being crushed, the berries and juice are fermented in the vat for a month, with several pump-overs during that time. The grape skins are gently pressed to extract the juice, additional color, and tannins, which add to the structure and complexity of the wine. The wine is then vatted to allow for the solids to settle out and clarify the wine before aging in oak barrels for 12 to 18 months depending on vintage. A final clearing of the wine is done by fining with egg white, when needed.
This lovely Pomerol has a lovely expressive nose typical of Merlot with red/black fruit and gamey aromas mingling with hints of oak, vanilla, and violets. The body has ample structure with very well-integrated tannins, very good mouth-feel and a smooth, elegant finish. A wine to decant when young or keep to develop another 5-10 years.”
Chateau Villefranche Sauternes 2011 375ml
“Made from 85% Semillon, 10% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Muscadelle, these grapes are grown on a sandy clay soil, near the river Ciron. All of the sweet wines of Bordeaux are centered around this tributary of the Garonne, because it creates a special microclimate. Leafy trees shade the cold water of this tiny river and the misty autumn mornings are favorable for the production of noble rot. This grows on the grape skins at perfect maturity and concentrates the grape sugars without making the skins burst, resulting in a grape must at pressing that is very concentrated.
Chateau Villefranche is golden in color (which deepens with age), with a perfumed and complex nose of vanilla, apricots, peaches and preserved white fruits. Highly concentrated with great acidity and balance, this wine may be consumed young, or left to age in a cool cellar and increase in complexity for a decade or so. Drink this with foie gras, starters of all types, white meats, and cheeses, especially Roquefort! Also excellent as an aperitif with walnuts.”