This month I have two Rhone selections that I believe are sure to please. The next time you are in the Rhone Valley and traveling on the D975, I strongly suggest that you make a stop at Roaix, a charming village within the Côtes du Rhône appellation that is often times overlooked. This totally picturesque village offers up some lovely views as well as a more quiet Côtes du Rhône experience, as most folks have no idea where or what a “roaix” is. If you don’t have any immediate travel plans then I recommend that you pick up a bottle of the 2004 Domaine Auzières Côtes du Rhône-Villages Roaix (ORGANIC) ($12.99). Cool, bright and silky is how I would describe this red beauty from Roaix... with enough matiere to handle heartier Provencal fare, but pretty enough to sip on its own. This is truly a wine to “go deep” on, and at this price you’ll save a few pennies too. Perhaps for your next trip to Roaix! Now here is a gentle reminder: One cannot live on red wine alone. How about a nice white like the 2004 Château Grande Cassagne Costières de Nîmes Blanc ($9.99)? Grenache blanc and roussanne are behind this crisp and rich white from the South of France. The very floral nose will set you squarely in the Southern Rhone, at a village market, say, where lavender and white flowers mingle with green olives and citrus. All these, and more, you can taste in this excellent value wine. A tingle of oak on the finish adds complexity and remains a backnote. Open a bottle of the Grande Cassage Blanc and prepare to be transported to the South of France! —Mulan Chan
The following article contains excerpts from our 2005 Bordeaux Report. If you want a hard copy, just ask us or you can find it online at our website. After two very easy and quick flights from San Francisco to Bordeaux, we should have figured that this year would be different than years past. What we found out after nine days of tasting through some 400 wines from 2005 vintage was that this was one of the easiest vintages to taste-no mouth searing tannins or green fruit or acid finishes here. Though the tannins were very high (one of highest on record) and the acids were high and the alcohols were high, the fruit was so ripe and round in most wines that the young harsh qualities of a new vintage were masked by the enormous fruit content. “If it could, Bordeaux would settle for a 2005-type vintage every year. It was a truly extraordinary year, easy to manage, without complications and the almost permanently fine weather ended up by providing a wine of most unusual concentration. And the owners are all wearing the kind of smile that suggests they have something very special in the cellar.”-Bill Blatch 2005 Report Also those smiles are partly due to the $$$ each one sees with this futures campaign-Clyde Beffa Jr-K&L No need to go into the weather conditions for this vintage as everything went perfectly well through the whole growing season—perhaps just lacking a little in precipitation. The long warm days and cool evenings in the summer made for a wine of rich, ripe fruit, high acidity, high sugar (giving wines more alcohol), and high tannins. I really think Bill Blatch’s comments below hit the nail on the head. “So ended a text-book harvest period for all of Bordeaux. The sun shone almost permanently and the showers came exactly when and where required to add the final touch, and all this after a dry hot season, during which what little rain there was fell just before all the vital sequences of the vine’s cycle. What more could we have asked for? Although some had cursed the drought, it had been the most perfect year we could expect. And if any growers have made a sub-par wine, they only have themselves to blame. And if any have made a vegetal wine, they should be lined up and shot at dawn.”-Bill Blatch 2005 Report It is interesting to note that there are many comparisons being made between the 1982 and 2005 vintages. As far as yield is concerned, the 1982 vintage came in at around 80 hectoliters/hectare (stated) almost double the size (and therefore less concentration) than 2005. Another fact is that vineyard and winery procedures and practices are much better now than they were 23 years ago. And now with second and third wines (which few properties had in 1982), there is more selection being made for the Grand Vin. There is no doubt that 2005 is a great Bordeaux vintage and among the best in the last 40 years. Is it the best? Hard to say, but we did find exceptionally good wines throughout all the regions and types of Bordeaux wine (ala 2000, except whites and stickies are better in 2005). What we also found was that many of the second wines of the great properties were fantastic—probably due to the health of all of the grapes of the vintage. The Big Easy may end with the prospective prices of the vintage-the smiles of the owners were too big for us to think otherwise. The top 30 or 40 will be expensive (very expensive I would think). There were just too many people in Bordeaux telling negociants and owners alike that they would pay almost anything for a good allocation. On the other hand, there may be some great finds and values from the lesser wines. Since the quantities are not big, I am sure that we and all other retailers will not get enough of the stars to satisfy our customers’ demands. Getting on our waiting lists is imperative this year, and the folks who bought 2004s from us are probably feeling a bit more secure right now. —Clyde Beffa jr
The perfect weather conditions in 2005 produced wines of intensely focused fruit, sparkling acidity, fine tannins and a brilliant freshness that make even the most powerful of wines seemingly elegant. The following are some of my notes from the barrels. I use a 3 Star system for barrel samples and it goes like this: 1 Star means good wine, I definitely like it and would buy it; 2 Stars means exceptional/great wine that I would love to own; 3 Stars means this wine will go down as one of the classics of all time. Margaux: Of all the great wines in 2005 I think this is wine of the vintage. 2005 is very floral with a fine perfume of perfectly ripe grapes. It is a big intense wine, so much power and richness, incredible mouth feel as well as mouth-coating sweet fruit and perfect tannins. The wine is huge and harmonious and at the same time elegant. Best I’ve ever tasted. 3 Stars *** Pavillion Rouge: Also the best I’ve ever tasted, this would be an outstanding first wine in many vintages, just a little bit lighter and less powerful than the first wine. Buy this one. 2 Stars ** Latour: Very intense, tight and complex. Deep old-vine aromas, deep black grapes, earth, leather and dark chocolate flavors. The firm structure and bristling acidity all combine to make this big wine elegant and fresh. The goal it seems was to make a legendary wine of pureness and power without over extraction to insure longevity while retaining the fine elegance and great freshness that is the essence of Bordeaux wine. This Latour captures all of it. 3 Stars *** Les Forts de Latour: The mantra for this vintage may be: “A truly great vintage for top Bordeaux 2nd wines.” It is here where it starts, Les Forts would be a fine Latour, the difference is the soft lush fruit, which is more forward and make this wine taste great even now. 2.5 Stars Ducru-Beaucaillou: Fine and floral aromas of perfectly ripe grapes on the nose continue all the way thru this incredibly elegant wine. Sweet-grapey, lush finish! Wow great wine!! 2.5 Stars for now, and could move to 3. Léoville-Las-Cases: Incredible strike of powerful red fruit and roses, a powerful core of masculine tight red fruit has a beautiful sweet middle that will eventually open up and blossom into greatness. As always patience is the requirement. 2.5 Stars ** and could be 3. The second wine, Clos du Marquis, is off the charts and by far the best I’ve ever tasted! A beautiful thickness of red fruits and sweet tannins. 2 Stars ** for sure and could move up. Léoville-Barton: As usual in a great vintage, Anthony and Lilian Barton have made a huge wine loaded with everything! Incredible amounts of intense black-purple fruit of boysenberry and blackberry exploding in all directions! The wine has a lot of integrating to do, but the key is that the tannins are round and under control. 2.5 Stars and could be 3. Langoa-Barton: Bright blood red fruit, intense flavors of cranberry and raspberry, well focused and strong. This wine continues to be one of Bordeaux’s greatest buys. 2 Stars ** Palmer: An attack of powerful, spicy cabernet sauvignon hits you right off in the nose as well as violets and roses, followed by deep blackberry fruit and framboise on the palate. The tannins are big but sweet and lead to a dark chocolate/raspberry torte finish. Flashy! 2.5 Stars Vieux-Château-Certan: The epitome of elegance is featured here. Beautiful, perfectly extracted in the grapey fruit. You can actually see thru this wine, incredible purity in the mouth, finely focused with a great clean finish. Perfect wine! 3 Stars *** Please feel free to contact me anytime with questions or advice on the wines of Bordeaux at ex 2723 or Ralph@klwines.com. Cheers and Go Giants! —Ralph Sands
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