Grand Wines of Bordeaux

Bordeaux –  the region that winos love to hate on, yet can’t deny their absolute inner love for.  No matter how much one could say that Bordeaux wines are over-classified and overrated, one would have a very difficult time refuting how truly amazing these wines can be.  Advanced Level Certified Sommelier and General Manager of Meteor Vineyard Jason Alexander popped into the SF Wine Center to share his take on this first-class region.  Like children sitting near the Christmas tree ready to dig into their presents, this class full of Bordeaux enthusiasts anxiously awaited their chance to taste an absolutely epic wine list including the 100-point scoring Château Montrose 1990, recently promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classé A (Bordeaux’s highest classification) Château L’Angelus, the highly rated Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1986, and many more.  Here’s a taste of what we learned…

Bordeaux has been dubbed with some rather unfair stigmas such as being both overrated and only as good as its vintage.  So what exactly indicates a good vintage?  Technically, it’s the ideal synergy of a frost-free period of budburst and flowering, a nice long season of growing and ripening, followed by a climatically stable and rainless harvest season.  The outcome from such a trifecta of ideal conditions results in superb ripeness of fruit, vivacious acidity, and remarkably complex aromatics; all of which blissfully harmonize into wines that will age for decades, and in some cases, a century.  And by this equation, the world has come to idealize certain showstopping vintages such as 1990 in Haut-Médoc and Sauternes, 2000 throughout Bordeaux, and the recent history-making 2009 and 2010.  But what some may forget is that it doesn’t mean all other vintages are necessarily bad, many of them have just been overshadowed by the higher ranked years.  Of the wines we tasted, some of the “off” vintages turned out to be some of the best wines in the lineup.  Excellent examples were the Château Léoville-Las-Cases  1981 from Saint-Julien, Château L’Angelus 1985 from Saint-Emilion, and Château Haut Brion 1994 from Pessac-Leognan.  Although these off-vintage wines may have expressed a somewhat different style and or progression, it doesn’t argue the fact that they are drinking magnificently.  So at the end of the day when it comes to the wines of Bordeaux, beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.

-Julie Albin

Wine List

  1. Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux 2005 –  Margaux
  2. Château Léoville-Las-Cases 1981 – Saint-Julien
  3. Château L’Angelus 1985 – Saint-Emilion
  4. Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1986 – Pauillac
  5. Château Hosanna 2008 – Pomerol
  6. Château Montrose 1990 – Saint Estèphe
  7. Château Haut Brion 1994 – Pessac-Leognan
  8. Château Léoville-Poyferré 2000 – Saint-Julien
  9. Château Filhot 1990 – Sauternes
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