Just because this vintage is sandwiched between two “blockbuster” vintages, doesn’t mean you can ignore it altogether. The most important factors in this vintage are value and typicity. They are nowhere near the high prices of the 2003s and 2005s. The 2004 Langoa-Barton, St-Julien ($32.99 Pre-Arrival) stuns with its balanced dark chocolate, cherry richness. Rich, deep and fruity in the Bordeaux fashion, balanced and structured. A wine that will continue to grow with age, but tastes amazing now. Dare I say, a must have. Langoa’s big brother, the 2004 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien ($49.99 Pre-Arrival) is what you’ve come to expect. The unraveling textural sweetness of Cabernet Sauvignon’s black currant-y richness layered on top of tobacco smoke and a winter’s fire. An overlooked jewel. If you’re looking for something a bit more old school, the 2004 Lynch Bages, Pauillac ($48.99 Pre-Arrival) could be for you. The spice rack rather than the jam jar here, savory rather than sweet. This keeps the oak in check and astounds with complexity. Keep this in your cellar until 2011, then enjoy responsibly. Always a blockbuster in the truest sense of the word, the 2004 Cos d’Estournel, St-Estèphe ($74.99 Pre-Arrival) would be sure to rake it in at the box office. With its head turning raspberry, black pepper and Asian spice styling, not to mention a big ol’ hunk of bloody steak thrown in for good measure, this is a wine that comes after you with its unabashed flavor. One new find from the value section is the 2001 Franc-Perat, Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux ($7.99). This little number astounds with its snappy blueberry tartness and subtle mocha-y core. Refreshing acidity and a refreshing price for this time of year makes this one of those Dominique Wilkins type slam-dunks. —Bryan Brick
Judi Cullam and Barrie Smith have 29 hectares under vine in Frankland River, the coolest and most isolated area of Western Australia. The vineyards are organic and dry farmed with all harvesting done by hand. The 2005 Frankland Estate “Isolation Ridge” Riesling Frankland River Western Australia ($17.99) has soaring aromatics of stone fruit, lime and a wax note with hints of lanolin. There is fine balance with crystal clean fruit on the palate supported by great acidity and a long finish. The 2004 Frankland Estate “Isolation Ridge” Chardonnay Frankland River Western Australia ($19.99) is barrel fermented but goes through about 10% malolactic fermentation and spends nine months in French oak barriques of which are 20% are new. The wine has a bouquet of pear, citrus, mineral and hazelnut that follow on the palate with pristine clarity. The Rocky Gully is a less expensive tier from Frankland Estate that uses purchased fruit, but still has the commitment to quality. The 2004 Rocky Gully Shiraz-Viognier Frankland River Western Australia ($10.99) offers a beautiful aromatic lift with its bright boysenberry fruit and black pepper notes accented by a peach and floral component. The wine is a fine example of Aussie Shiraz that does not have knock you over the head with oak and alcohol but rather elegance and finesse. Happy Holidays —Jimmy C
It has truly been a great year for the wines of Bordeaux here at K&L Wine Merchants! This year was just loaded with excitement, controversy and amazing amounts of great wines! Let’s take a look back. The perfect weather in 2005 produced brilliant wines, classic in style, which prompted a few famous estates to price themselves beyond what normal wine lovers and collectors will tolerate. There is your controversy. For the rest of Bordeaux and wine lovers all over the world this may end up to be a great blessing, as there are so many lovely wines in Bordeaux that never get the limelight. Believe me, these wines are the future of Bordeaux, fine wines at fair prices that will perform, not glorified dust collectors. Prime examples are: from St-Emilion/Pomerol, Ch. Rouget, Beauregard, Clos d’Oratoire and Fombrauge; from Pessac-Leognan, Ch. Brown, Malartic Lagraviere and Clos Marsalette; from Margaux Ch. Brane Cantenac and Lascombes, d’Issan and Ferriere; from St-Julien St-Pierre and Duhart Milon along with Pauillac’s Haut-Bages-Libéral; and from St-Estèphe Lafon Rochet, Phelan Segur, Sociando Mallet and Goulee. Our tasting notes on all of these are on the website. Check out the value! Just as the dust was settling form the 2005 campaign the ripe, opulent and fantastic vintage of 2003 arrived, delicious wines like Ch. Mouton-Rothschild ($269.99) with its flashy ripe fruit and firm backbone, built for the long haul and featuring the picture of the founder, Le Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild on the Special 150th Anniversary label. Ch. Haut Brion ($299.99) with its classic layers of ripe fruit with hints of leather, stone and spice is flat out stunning as is Ch. Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande ($109.99). This wine will surely rival the monumental 1982 with time, so cellar this and drink the delicious and forward second wine, 2003 Reserve de la Comtesse ($31.99) while the great wine sleeps. We end every year here at K&L with a smell and sip of what will be arriving next year at our annual Fete de Bordeaux Dinner. What a great event, a glass of Champagne followed by 14 wines at dinner with 2004s from Lynch Bages, Cos dEstournel, Langoa and Léoville-Barton flown over specially for the event. The 2004s certainly fly under the radar of the super hyped 2003 and 2005 vintages. The pricing is quite refreshing and the quality far better than most in attendance might imagine. People were taken aback by the forward fruit of the 2004 Lynch Bages ($48.99) and the complexity and focus of the 2004 Langoa-Barton ($32.99). The deep black and blue fruit of the 2004 Ch. Léoville-Barton ($49.99) is unmistakable, and to quote one of our newest wine specialist, Nadia Dmytriw, “amazing it is so big but so elegant” (and she used to work at Lynch Bages and Pichon-Baron). The wine of the night, the 2004 Cos d’Estournel ($74.99) was rich, deep, exotic and spicy with everything in harmony. Hats off to Jean Guillaume Pratts as he continues to raise the bar of quality and the percentage of Cabernet at Cos. Warmest holiday wishes and thank you to all our loyal customers and friends in the business of wine. Please feel free to call me anytime with questions or advice on the wines of Bordeaux at ext# 2723 or Ralph@klwines.com. Cheers and Go Niners! —Ralph Sands
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