2003 Vacqueyras, La Bourgeat ($14.99) This blend of old-vine syrah, grenache and mourvèdre is completely unfiltered. Add this fact to the weightiness of the 2003 vintage and you have a wine that just says “Wow, notice me!” The initial nose is one of black fruits, particularly extremely ripe black cherries. Scents of gravel and spice box also waft out of the glass. Ten minutes later, pomegranate juice makes a not so subtle appearance. On the palate, black cherries that are slightly tart come out to greet you with boysenberries and dry raspberry fruit. Good acidity and low tannin with a finish of spice and light anise. Fleshy with a medium length finish. A perfect match with wintry roasts, stews and game birds. 2003 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine de la Cote de l’Ange ($28.99) One of most pleasurable things about this wine is the color. A beautiful, dark garnet. Hold it up to the light and see it for yourself. Pour it into the glass and watch it stick to the sides like glycerin. In the mouth, big dark blackberry and boysenberry fruit. Traces of both white and black pepper on the finish. A lengthy finish that actually improves after a couple of hours of decanting. I let this wine open up while watching two very mediocre episodes of Night Gallery from the early 1970s. It was Halloween, after all. In any case, the marvelous structure and quality of this wine offset what was not Rod Serling’s best. I think that the next time that I drink this wine, I will be watching The Twilight Zone. A quality show to go with a quality wine. Now, that’s a match! Have a very happy holiday season and many thanks for your patronage in 2005! —Scott Beckerley
2000 Grand Enclos du Cerons Blanc (.375ml) ($14.99) Cerons is an area just to the north of Sauternes and Barsac known for producing value-priced sweet wines. This 100% semillon is aged in oak barrels to add extra richness to the lively, tropical botrytised fruit. Zesty and complex with citrus, honey and orange, this is great with foie gras, cheese or fruit-based desserts. 2004 La Peyrere du Tertre, Clairet ($12.99) This rustic and hearty rosé is a wine of terrior, showing flavors of earth, juicy raspberry, stony minerality and rose petal. Made from a blend of 80% merlot and 20% cabernet sauvignon aged in oak for three months, this can definitely stand up to rich food yet has enough fruit to sip by the glass. Just 300 cases produced each year. 2000 Ch Laforge, St-Emilion ($19.99) This ridiculously low-priced offering from the glorious 2000 vintage starts out with sweet, seductive aromas of dark fruit, oak and roasting coffee. The rich palate shows flavors of sweet currants, ripe plums, mocha, minerals, toast and chocolate, which are long and mouth coating. Round, gentle and almost too easy to drink. 2000 La Cardonne, Médoc ($14.99) According to the Wine Spectator: “Lovely aromas of crushed berries, chocolate and smoke follow through to a medium-bodied palate, with fine tannins and a clean finish. Well-done. Best after 2005.” 2001 Ch Margaux, Margaux ($164.99) The most elegant wine of the First Growths in 2001. This blend of 82% cabernet sauvignon, 7% merlot, 7% petit verdot and 4% cabernet franc is seamless and complex. 93 points Parker and 92 points Spectator. —Steve Bearden
We left off November’s Wine News with a marvelous lunch with Corinne De Bouard at Angélus featuring the 1998 and 1995 Angelus ($159.99). If we were not sky high yet from our great visit at Angélus, we certainly were when we left Petrus. Edward Moueix welcomed us to his home, walked us out into the vineyard and passionately told us that the 2005 harvest was completely done over a week ago when most were just starting to pick. With not a cloud in the 85 degree sky, he was very happy because he said in 36 hours it would be raining. He told us the intensely farmed, garden vineyard on the plateau was the key to the greatness, “we are not movie stars, we are farmers.” Just then a man came jogging down the path towards us excusing himself as he moved quickly past the group. He puts his hand on Edward’s shoulder and is telling him something, this man is visibly shaking. The man turns to our group and says, “I’m so sorry, my name is Christian and I had to tell my son that I just pulled samples of the one-week-old fermenting juice, and it’s phenomenal!” Still shaking from pure excitement he went on to say that he did not remember the 1947, but he made the ’82, ’89 and ’98 and that this juice from 2005 may be the best he has ever tasted, and we would be the first people besides himself in the world to taste it! Electricity was in the air, we floated back to the winery all pumped up! The one-week-old merlot juice was quite tasty. I’ve locked it in my memory because it’s most likely the last time I’ll taste it! The incredible brightness and elegance of the reds 2001,1998 and 1990 and white wines 2002 and 2001 made in the new cellar by the Bonnie Family at Malartic-Lagraviere are only surpassed by their gracious and generous hospitality. The same is always the case at Haut-Bailly, where this always classy wine, of dark red fruit and minerals, is at a new level of high quality under the direction of Veronique Sanders. The 2004 Haut-Bailly ($38.99) is superb! After a lovely glass of 2002 Smith-Haut-Lafitte Blanc as an aperitif with Daniel and Florence Cathiard in the kitchen of their home, it was time to have dinner, and 29 hours after Petrus, it was pouring rain. Luckily it lasted only 20 minutes, and the Cathiards pulled out the 1961 Rouge out of magnum. As we walked back to the hotel, Les Sources de Caudalie thru the vineyard hours later there was not a puddle or mud anywhere, no sign it had rained hard. Ch. Guiraud 2003, 2002, 2001 and some moldy grapes in the vineyard made for a memorable breakfast in Sauternes. Lunch was a fantastic visit to the Red Sands of Barsac and Ch.Climens. Bernice Lurton served us 1996 as aperitif and 1989, 1986, 1985 and 1969 with dessert, oh boy. I had 15 people asleep minutes later. The quiet farm and micro production estate of Sauternes’ best buy, Ch. Doisy Vedrines and its humble owner and winemaker Olivier Casteja, was a perfect place to end a perfect week. The 2002 Doisy Vedrines ($29.99) and 1999 were lovely. Special thanks to all the great customers who made the trek, all our gracious friends in Bordeaux, as well as Ceclie Levin and Magda Johnson who made it all happen. Cheers to all of you! —Ralph Sands
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