This week I had the pleasure of attending a Bordeaux dinner at Rothmann’s Steakhouse here on Long Island, featuring mostly Bordeaux from the extraordinary 2009 vintage, and a few from 2004 and 2005.
We began with the 2009 Tour de Leognan Blanc from Pessac-Leognan (by Chateau Carbonnieux), paired with an octopus and white bean appetizer. The wine is 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon, as is a normal blend for a white from Bordeaux, and is youthful and pale yellow/straw colored with characteristics of citrus and orchard fruit, as well as pineapple, and a bit of cool mineral, and some soft oak notes, and fairly bright acidity.
A sort of wildcard that I didn’t see on the menu for the evening was a surprise bottle of 2005 Chateau Carbonnieux, which is aging very gracefully, softening and beginning to show a hint of richness in its color, lovely fruit, plenty of clean acidity, a crisp feel, but a bit more oak than the Tour de Leognan. This wine is fabulous and was one of my favorites of the evening.
We then moved on to reds - the course was mussels and andouille sausage, and the first red was the 2009 Chateau de Pitray from Cotes de Castillon - it’s about 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc. The wine is a slightly deep red, with characteristics of both red and dark fruit, soft spice, and some smoke, and a smooth texture. Even in its youth, the wine is quite approachable.
Next was the 2009 l’Heritage de Chasse Spleen, a Haut Medoc of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and some Merlot. It’s quite young and a bit tight but clearly it will get better with age. The fruit and spice is lovely but the tannins move in fairly quickly, indicating that it needs some time.
It was around this time that the duck leg was served. The next wine was the 2009 Baron de Brane (from Brane-Cantenac, a wonderful second growth from Margaux, which I’ve had before and wrote a post a few weeks about these wines). This was one of my favorites of the evening - it’s quite dark in color with a somewhat clear rim, and very indicative of its left bank terroir, with plenty of fruit and pepper characteristics, and while it’s still quite tannic as it’s so young, it’s obvious that the wine is of such good quality, and this is another that will continue to improve with age, softening and becoming even more wonderful.
It was around this time that the filet mignon course was served. The first wine of the flight was the 2009 Chateau Faugeres from Saint-Emilion. This was one of the most fascinating wines in my opinion, because while it’s big, and full of fruit and earth characteristics as expected, what surprised me was the high viscosity of the wine and how it stained the glass - and that’s when my suspicions were confirmed - the wine has 14.5% alcohol! That has to be the highest alcohol percentage I’ve ever noted in a Bordeaux.
Next was the 2009 Chateau Bouscart from Pessac-Leognan, a very nice wine, almost fun actually, unpretentious, yet lovely in aroma, flavor, and texture, and another that will continue to age nicely.
The last of the red 2009s was the Chateau Lalande Borie from Saint-Julien (Medoc). This may have been the loveliest wine of the evening, as it is incredibly elegant even in its youth and will certainly improve with age. The characteristics of ripe fruit, soft spice, and just a hint of leather are wonderful. I absolutely loved this wine.
One of the night’s highlights was the 2004 Chateau Haut Bages Liberal from Pauillac, a fifth growth, paired with strip steak. I’ve had several 2004 Bordeaux recently, and this one is aging very gracefully and showing beautiful aromas of ripe, luscious fruit and soft spices. While there’s still plenty of youthful tannin, it’s beginning to soften and allow the fruit and acidity to shine through.
The final wine of the night, paired with pear and Roquefort cheese, was the 2009 Chateau le Dauphin de Guiraud, the youngest Sauternes I’ve ever tasted. It’s still such a light color but promises to turn a golden hue in a few years. Right now it’s showing characteristics of stewed peach, fresh apricot, and rich floral notes, and while it’s quite sweet, it shows a nice underlying acidity, leaving the palate feeling clean. Eventually the fruit notes will become like dry fruit, concentrated, and mature.