2016 Fete du Bordeaux

As we head into the new year, we were stunned to realize that it’s almost time for one of our favorite wine events!  Having made our New Year’s resolution to post more, we’ll start by catching up with an update from last year’s Fete du Bordeaux.

The Fete du Bordeaux always comes around in January just after the holidays.  It is not just a chance to taste the new releases from Bordeaux, but a chance to visit with the people who represent and/or own the Chateaux, many of whom we have gotten to know over the past ten years.  It is always good to catch up with them and hear about what is going on in Bordeaux.

Bob Watt, Christina Watt and Jean-Charles Cazes from Lynch Bages…our annual photo. Will be fun to look back on all of these one day!


There have been so many amazing changes that have taken place in the wineries throughout Bordeaux over the last 5 to 6 years and their wines are the better for it.  While there were many great wines produced in Bordeaux through the 80’s and 90’s, they pale in some respects to the quality that is being produced in Bordeaux today.  Today’s technology, like optical sorters and satellite imagery, were only dreams of the past.  Combine this with more rigorous vineyard management and  stricter quality standards, and the end result for consumers and collectors is consistently better wines – even in less than outstanding vintages.

This year’s Fete du Bordeaux was again held at the restaurant One Market in San Francisco and was a tasting of the new 2013 releases:

2013 Chateau Langoa Barton, St. Julien

2013 Chateau Leoville Barton, St. Julien

2013 Chateau Lynch Bages, Pauillac

2013 Chateau Ormes de Pez, St. Estephe

2013 Chateau Figeac, St. Emilion

2013 Petit Figeac, St. Emilion

2013 Chateau La Conseillante, Pomerol

One Market Restaurant in San Francisco.


Christina and I visited Bordeaux in 2013 during the harvest.  I can tell you that it was not ideal weather for the end of the growing season or harvest, with fairly frequent rain showers throughout the region.  Unfortunately, the wines of 2013 also show the difficulty of the growing season that the winemakers had to work with.  While the growing season of 2013 may have produced poor wines if they had been made in the 70’s or 80’s, today’s improved vineyard technology and winemaking practices produced some very pleasant wines.  The 2013’s are not the big blockbuster wines of 2005, 2009 or 2010, but you won’t have to wait as long for them to mature either.

Getting started!

The wine of the flight for the 2013’s was the newcomer to the group, Chateau La Conseillante.  Michel Rolland is the consulting winemaker for Chateau La Conseillante and the wine is made from 80% Merlot and 20% Cab. Franc.  This is a very nice wine for the vintage, medium bodied, with elegant dark fruit and fairly fine tannins on the medium long finish.  (92 pts.)

As we moved into the main dining room of the restaurant, we had a nice glass of Champagne from Franck Bonville – Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs NV.  I have had this particular Champagne on several occasions and I have always enjoyed it.  It reminds me of Salon in style, but slightly smaller in stature.  It is creamy in texture with good acidity, white fruit, green apple, lemon and a chalky mineral streak running right through the medium-long finish.  This is definitely a great QPR champagne at $35. (90 pts.)

To start the dinner off we tasted the 2014 Blanc de Lynch Bages white Bordeaux, which is produced in small batches.  I have always enjoyed this wine throughout the years, and it is one of my wife’s favorite whites.  It is very crisp with honey dew melon, green apples, lemon and a slight stoniness on the nice clean finish.  It is a perfect wine for summer if you can find it.  (92 pts.)

To go with our grilled calamari salad and roasted duck dinner, we had two flights of four wines:

2005 Chateau Figeac, St. Emilion – Dark red/black fruit with a slight green pepper nose.  Nice dark fruit with good acidity, a hint of spice, medium bodied and a medium long dark fruit finish.  (92 pts.)

2005 Chateau La Conseillante, Pomerol – Very dark bing cherry and blackberry fruit nose.  Very dark fruit in the mouth, lively acidity, and very fine tannins.  Nice long dark cherry fruit finish.  This wine is already very elegant and still on the young side, with upside potential.  This wine has a long life ahead of it.  (95+ pts.)

2005 Chateau Langoa Barton, St. Julien – Ripe red cherries and some black fruit on the nose.  In the mouth, red cherries and black currant, decent acidity, but a little monolithic at this point on the medium long cherry fruit finish.  Maybe this just needs more time in the bottle.  (90 pts.)

2005 Chateau Lynch Bages, Pauillac – Dark fruit and a little autumn leaves on the nose.  Nice dark bing cherry, some blackberry and a little walnut in the mouth.  Very nice acidity keeps this lively in the mouth, while the dark fruit continues on to a nice medium-long finish.  While there is still a fair amount of tannin here to work out, the wine is still young and should be good for the long haul.  (94+ pts.)

2000 Chateau Figeac, St. Emilion – Ripe dark red fruit on the nose.  In the mouth, red currants and cherries, with slightly grainy tannins and not quite as concentrated as the 2005.  Finishes with nice red cherry fruit of medium length.  (92 pts.)

2000 Chateau La Conseillante, Pomerol – Black currants and blackberries on the nose.  In the mouth a mixture of black currants and dark bing cherry/blackberry pie.  Good acidity and some spice notes starting to show up.  Again the elegance comes through on the medium-long dark fruit finish.  Still young, but this wine is starting to show a little of what it has in store for the patient collector.  (94 pts.)

1995 Chateau Lynch Bages, Pauillac – Ripe dark red fruit and a little forest floor on the nose.  In the mouth, black cherries and red currants combine with roasted nuts and some spice.  Soft in the mouth with a little tannin still present.  Nice acidity and sweet dark fruit carry through to the medium-long finish.  (93 pts.)

1995 Chateau Leoville Barton, St. Juilen –  Nose of the night, with red and black fruit, forest floor and baking spices.  In the mouth, nice sweet dark cherries, red currants and some blackberry combine with grilled nuts and forest floor.  This has good acidity and is very silky in the mouth.  Very nice sweet dark fruit on the long finish.  (95 pts.)

For dessert, we had a pear brown butter tart and a wine to go with:

2007 Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes – Nice and light melon, tangerine and a touch of honey on the nose.   Good fruit in the mouth, melon, pears  and some bees wax.  Decent acidity with a hint of spice on the medium-long sweet honey finish.  (92 pts.)

It was another wonderful evening spent with friends from afar.  While I may not be buying a large quantity of wine from the 2013 vintage, there were some good wines made that you could enjoy while you are waiting for the 05’s, 09’s and 10’s to come to maturity.

Next year, the wines of 2014 should be a noticeable step up over the 13’s.  We look forward to the next tasting in just a few short weeks!





Taste Washington, Review #3 – Gramercy Cellars and Long Shadows

It’s no secret, we’re big fans of Gramercy Cellars.  We’ve been known to take their wines on our trips and share them with folks in places like Sun Valley and Bordeaux…we just think Greg Harrington is doing a great job.  I have a tendency to prefer wines with slightly higher acidity because they work so well with many different types of food, and Gramercy Cellars wines are great food wines.  Having good acidity in a wine is so important when it comes to aging as well, and the wines from Gramercy Cellars age beautifully.  If you haven’t tried the wines from Gramercy Cellars, you owe it to yourself to buy a bottle and see what makes Washington wine so exciting.  Greg’s wines are world-class.

Here’s what we tried at Taste Washington:

2011 Gramercy Cellars – Mourvedre “L’Idiot du Village” – Nice earthy dark red bing cherry nose.  In the mouth, sweet dark red cherries and plums combine with a dark earthy and slightly spicy complexity.  This wine has very good acidity, moderate tannins and a medium-long sweet dark red fruit finish.  This will be a great food wine.  You don’t see much in the way of Mourvedre wines in Washington State, but this one from Gramercy Cellars shows some real potential for the grape here.  (91 pts.)

2010 Gramercy Cellars – Syrah, Walla Walla – Nice sweet dark blackberry fruit nose.  In the mouth, dark blackberries and red bing cherries combine with a slight savory cured/smoked meat flavor.  This wine has nice acidity and very fine tannins that keep everything in balance on the long sweet dark fruit filled finish.  (93+ pts.)

2007 Gramercy Cellars – Syrah, Walla Walla – Very dark blackberry and spice on the nose.  In the mouth, again, very dark blackberries, baking spices and a wonderful savory cured/smoked meat.  The wine has good acidity and the savory dark fruit carries through on the long spicy finish.  The 2007 Syrah is darker and richer than the 2010 Syrah at present, but it has also had a few more years for the flavors to meld together and evolve.  This wine is in an absolutely beautiful place right now.  If you have some of the 2007 Syrah in your cellar, I would encourage you to open one – you won’t be disappointed.  While the 2007 Syrah is drinking well right now, there isn’t a rush to drink it, enjoy it over the next decade.  (95 pts.)

2010 Gramercy Cellars – Cabernet Sauvignon – Nice black cherry fruit nose.  In the mouth, dark black cherry, blackberry and black currants combine together with a little spice.  This wine has some very good acidity keeping everything alive and singing in the mouth.   The wine is very dark, with the primary flavors showing now, but it is just a baby.  The tannins are present on the long dark fruit finish, but they are ripe and very fine.  This is a very nice wine that you can enjoy now, but you will be greatly rewarded by holding on to it for another 3-5 years as the secondary flavors develop.  (93+ pts.)


We also tasted Long Shadows. We had a spectacular tasting at their winery a few years ago, arranged by a friend.  We were already familiar with the wines, but the tasting allowed us to learn more about all of the wines and their individual story and philosophy. Here’s some background: Long Shadows brings seven highly acclaimed vintners from the major wine regions of the world to Washington State, each an owner-partner in a unique winery dedicated to producing Columbia Valley wines that showcase the best of the Washington growing region.

After leaving Chateau Ste. Michelle in 2000, Allen Shoup was committed to furthering the potential of winemaking in the Columbia Valley.  He spent the next three years developing Long Shadows,with the vision to recruit a cadre of the finest winemakers in the world; give each vintner access to Washington State’s best grapes; and outfit a winery to accommodate a diverse group of winemakers’ exacting cellar specifications.  Today, wine legends such as Michel Rolland, Randy Dunn, John Duval and Philippe Melka make up the dream team of celebrated vintners bringing critical acclaim to these Washington wines.

Here are the wines we tasted:

2010 Saggi  (Super Tuscan Blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah) – Spicy dark fruit nose.  In the mouth, dark red cherries, blackberry and a little red currant combine with a spicy dark earthy character.  This wine has very good acidity and a good dose of ripe tannin on the long spicy dark fruit finish.  I have always enjoyed the Italian styled Saggi.  It is one of the relatively new and different styled wines that Washington State is producing more of these days.  (92 pts.)

2010 Chester Kidder – Cabernet Sauvignon – Black fruit nose.  In the mouth, very dark black cherries and black currants combine with a slight savory component.  This wine has good acidity and very fine tannins on the long but slightly dry dark fruit finish.  This wine is still very young and needs a couple more years in the bottle for everything to meld together.  (93 pts.)

2010 Sequel – Syrah – Sweet dark fruit nose.  In the mouth, dark blackberries and red cherries combine with a little bit of spice.  This wine has good acidity and fine tannins on the medium-long sweet/spicy dark fruit finish.  (91 pts.)

All in all, these two wineries represent some of the best Washington has to offer, both in quality and price point.  We certainly hope they will remain that approachable as the region matures!