We spend an incredible amount of time and energy bantering about the virtues and differences of the 61 great estates, First Growths thru Fifth, that make up the 1855 Classification. These are of course the top wines of Bordeaux. They represent about 25% of the Médoc appellations total production and are collected and treasured worldwide, but these wines are by no means the only great wines made in Bordeaux. There are over 450 estates that make up the Syndicat des Crus Bourgeois. They account for about 40% of the Médoc wine over three levels of status. In ascending order, Crus Bourgeois, Crus Grands Bourgeois and the top level Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnel. These titles are bestowed as a result of government controlled law and are revisited every 12 years. The previous six vintages are evaluated and judged, changes are made and the new classification released. One of the Exceptionnels is now a top selling wine at K&L, and you may be surprised to hear that the wine is Ch. Phelan Segur. The reason is simple: Phelan is an elegant St-Estèphe in a commune with few elegant wines. The blend of 60% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot and 10% cabernet franc tastes good at almost any stage of its life. The wine of Phelan is not “pushed.” Rather, it is naturally extracted and honest wine. It tastes good, it’s a fine value, and it has early drinkability. This is a winning combination, my friends. 1996 Phelan Segur, St-Estèphe ($31.99) is your perfect example of Claret at 10 years of age. Good definition and focused, already a nice drink but will hold for numerous years. For the price it is hard to stay away from with an hour decanting. 2000 Phelan Segur, St-Estèphe ($26.99) still needs 5-7 years to blossom. It is firm with everything in good harmony, very similar in many ways to the 1996. It will be one of 2000’s earlier drinkers. Also, just in stock ... 2003 Carbonnieux Blanc ($24.99) …sells fast! Please feel free to contact me anytime with questions or advice on the wines of Bordeaux at ex 2723 or Ralph@klwines.com. Toujours Bordeaux! —Ralph Sands
Another year flying by faster than a Shelby Mustang 500GT! Buyers leaving for all parts of the wine world. Chanty, Elisabeth and I have been back for over a month from Aussie Land. We did find some excellent wines on this trip from the very good 2004 and outstanding 2005 vintages. They should start arriving soon. Speaking of the 2005 vintage, it promises to be very good to great in quite a few wine regions. For sure the wines from the Barossa and McLaren Vale areas of Australia will be superb. Also great reports from Bordeaux and California. The Futures campaign for 2005 Bordeaux promises to be very hectic and fast moving. Other regions are forecasting excellent vintages, and our buyers will tell you what they find on their trips. Let’s all slow down a bit and enjoy this year! —Clyde Beffa Jr
When looking for great wines from Bordeaux we often think of the bigger names and overlook other appellations by fear of the unknown. Well, fear no more: Moulis is here to save the day. The smallest appellation in the Médoc (surface wise) with only 600 hectares, which represent 4% of the region, offers wines of high standards as the 1975 Ch. Poujeaux ($79.99) can attest. This wine offers delicate red fruit on the nose. The wine has fresh and still lively sweet slightly red berry fruit on the palate. WOW!!! You want all wines to achieve this with age. It was served with the cheese course at the Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel diner K&L organized at the University Club, and it was the best paring of the night. We also had 2003 Ch. Poujeaux (Pre-Arrival $22.99). It was a great vintage, the warmest ever recorded, and this wine shows you the best of 2003. Tones of fruit in the glass: raspberry, cassis, red cherry, a bit of spice as well as some smoke. It has good structure and a very long finish. Another hidden gem of the vintage is 2003 Ch. Chasse-Spleen ($25.99). A more traditional style, the nose was fairly closed. Slightly rustic touch, showing fresh berries, cherries and spices. Will keep for a good ten years. Two other good buys are 2002 Ch. Potensac ($17.99) and 2001 Les Ormes the Pez ($24.99). The Potensac, owned by the Delon family (Léoville-Las-Cases), is still quite young. Showing black currants, dark berries, earthy tannins and good acidity, it will be drinkable after 2006. Les Ormes de Pez, St-Estèphe, is straightforward. Good dark fruit with a bit of spice. Firm structure that still needs more time but opens up well with decanting. —Alexandre Brisoux
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