2004 Grand Enclos du Cerons Blanc (dry) ($13.99) Cerons is an area just north of Sauternes and Barsac known for producing value-priced sweet wines, although some excellent dry wine is also produced. This bone-dry blend of semillon and sauvignon blanc comes from soils that consist of flinty stones over gravely subsoil, which show in the wine’s character. Crisp, clean aromas of stone fruit and mineral lead to a firm, steely mid palate that is substantial and beautifully fresh. Great with shellfish, goat cheese or as an aperitif. 2002 Reserve de Comtesse Lalande, Pauillac ($25.99) Pichon Lalande’s 2nd wine is delicious and a bargain to boot! This is bright and deep with lots of blackberry and cherry fruit, hints of herb and mineral, plenty of plump merlot juiciness in the middle and toasty, well-rounded tannin on the finish. Enjoy this now with decanting, or cellar several years. 2003 Bernadotte, Haut-Médoc ($19.99) The team at Pichon-Lalande also crafted this rich, chunky beauty from the much heralded 2003 vintage. Sweet blackberries abound in the chewy middle, and there is surprising elegance on the long finish. This shows the forward ripeness of the 2003 vintage but has plenty of underlying structure for those who want to cellar some. 2003 Lascombes, Margaux ($39.99) This 2nd Growth with vineyards spread throughout the appellation of Margaux has been on a roll since it changed hands in 2000. This is viscous and extracted with boatloads of plush blueberry fruit, toasty oak and licorice flavors in a flashy, velvety, full-bodied style. 92-95 points from Robert Parker. 2003 La Couspaude, St-Emilion ($45.99) This tiny (by Bordeaux standards) “garage” wine has become known for producing jammy, oaky fruit bombs that have enough underlying structure to age well, and never appear heavy or over the top. This fat, low-acid wine has lots of ripe black cherry and sweet oak richness in addition to an opulent liquid-mineral component on the perfumed finish. This is flashy, flamboyant, fruity and already easy to drink. —Steve Bearden
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
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