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Golden gifts of wine

Bordeaux port in 1871 (Photograph supplied)

As today’s wines all rate over 90 points they would all win gold medals in a wine competition.

Robert Parker introduced the 100-point system in his Wine Advocate that he launched in 1978; points are given for colour and looks, aroma and bouquet, flavour and finish and potential for future development.

Most publications now consider that a wine that rates between 90 and 94 points is outstanding and of superior character and style.

Today we go to Bordeaux and select from the more than 3,000 chateau properties. We start on the eastern side in Saint Emilion, that receives the cold winter winds first. Early ripening merlot and cabernet franc dominate so crops can be gathered before a freeze hits and causes the fruit to split.

Our 2016 La Confession St Emilion Grand Cru hits all the buttons for me. It is new, with the first vintage in 2001. Its production is very low, at only 2,500 cases. The owner, Jean-Philippe Janoueix, likes to experiment, one example being the warming of barrels before placing the wine in them. He claims that this makes for a softer, more natural wine.

Here is a quote from the Wine Cellar Insider: “Flowers, liquorice, smoke and espresso notes are in the nose. On the palate, the wine is soft, lush, sweet, opulently textured and full-bodied. The polished tannins, ripe fruits, spice and earth mingle well on your palate. The wine was made with 72 per cent merlot and 28 per cent cabernet franc. 93 points.” $68 (Stock #8307)

Now we move to the commune of Margaux and our 2014 Chateau Angludet, a wine that has a good following in Bermuda. The Sichel family own this property and the great Chateau Palmer, that is now fully certified as biodynamic. The process of moving towards full certification is in motion at Angludet and should take effect shortly. Angludet consists of 50 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 33 per cent merlot and 11 per cent petit verdot. James Suckling rates it 91/100 and says: “The combination of ripe blackberry fruit and a hint of something floral is immediately appealing, and the dry tannins are quite discreet, making this solid wine easy to enjoy right away. But it will improve with age.” $77.70 (Stock #9591)

Our 2014 Chateau du Tertre, also from Margaux, is a wine that I have always found most enjoyable and to back that up here is the Wine Enthusiast: “Made by the same team as Château Giscours, this estate continues to impress with its quality. The wine is certainly structured, but it also has lush layers of ripe fruit. Blueberry and blackcurrant fruitiness give the wine richness and potential. 94/100. Drink from 2023.” $79.50 (Stock #9572)

Our 2014 Chateau Tronquoy-Lalande hails from St Estephe and I will share what Vinous thinks of it: “92 points and just as expressive from bottle as it was from barrel, the 2014 Tronquoy-Lalande is superb. Black cherry, plum, gravel, smoke, savoury herbs, liquorice and expressive floral notes abound in a rich, deeply textured Saint-Estèphe that will drink well with minimal cellaring. The plush, textured finish only adds to the wine's considerable appeal. Drink this pliant, expressive Saint-Estèphe over the next 15 to 20 years or more. This is a stellar showing. The blend is 56 per cent merlot, 37 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 6 per cent petit verdot and 1 per cent cabernet franc.” $57.20 (Stock #7767)

Pauillac beats them all with the most top classified wines in 1855 and the second wine from the great Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is our 2016 Reserve de la Comtesse which is 54 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 37 per cent merlot, 5 per cent petit verdot and 4 per cent cabernet franc. Vinous awards it 94 points and writes: “Sensual, racy and inviting, the Réserve de la Comtesse is one of the very finest wines readers will find in its peer group. Sweet dark plum, rose petal, spice and chocolate notes build into the silky, beautifully resonant finish. The 2016 has so much to offer. Moreover, it is flat-out delicious. Don't miss it!” $92 (Stock #8360)

Our 2017 Chateau Pedesclaux in the Haut-Medoc is another winner with 93 to 95 points from the Wine Enthusiast magazine, which shows that they expect it to improve as it evolves. But for now I will quote Jeb Dunnuck: “This estate has been on a roll of late, fashioning outstanding wine after outstanding wine, and the 2017 Chateau Pedesclaux is terrific. It reveals a vivid purple hue as well as perfumed notes of cassis, violets and graphite. Incredibly elegant, balanced, and with silky tannins, it’s a classic pauillac that’s already approachable yet will evolve for 20 years or more.” $80 (Stock #9549)

I will wrap this up with a wine from somewhat of a rebel, or better I say rebels, as Jean Luc Thunavin and his wife Muriele are a team who immigrated from Algeria to St Emilion where they created their first wine in their garage – thus launching the “garagiste” movement. In 1991 they created Valandraud from an acre plot. By 2012 it was classified as a 1er grand cru classé of Saint Emilion.

Today we offer you the 2014 Virginie de Valandraud St Emilion Grand Cru that receives 93 points from the Wine Enthusiast and the following: “Made from a separate parcel of the Valandraud estate, this is a fruity, ripe wine. Dark tannins and flavours of dark chocolate combine with great fruit and acidity. It is still packed with tannins and will take plenty of time to come around. Drink from 2024.” $66 (Stock #9625)

When the Romans arrived at the river-port of Bordeaux they found vineyards and, two thousand years later, they are still going strong!

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

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Published December 03, 2021 at 7:58 am (Updated December 02, 2021 at 4:11 pm)

Golden gifts of wine

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