Many journalists and wine retailers are descending on Bordeaux next week to taste the barrel samples of the supposedly superlative (and this time they mean it!) 2005 vintage. But last weekend I headed in the opposite direction to taste some excellent Bordeaux: I went to Chicago.
The wines that I tasted weren’t in the barrel. In fact, the 2002s that I tried have been available for a year or more. They have even been on retailers’ shelves for so long that I found a good one having a sale on 02 Bordeaux and couldn’t resist snapping up some bargains from what turned out to be an overlooked vintage.
The cause of the trip to Chicago was a class at the University of Chicago. The 30 attendees and I pondered the problems and potential in the two French regions of Bordeaux and Languedoc. It turns out that one of the participants has a blog of her own, so I’ll refer you to her for more detailed notes.
Here’s the lineup with little scribble on each. Overall head to the Medoc to scoop up the bargains that are 2002 Bordeaux.
Cinquante Cinq Viognier vin de pays d’oc $10 (find this wine)
Ho-hum, gets the job done. On the deck in the summer that is.
Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, 2003 Pessac-Leognan ($30) (find this wine)
Crisp acidity but a surprising amount of oak. Give this to a New Zealander and she would never guess that it’s Sauvignon Blanc.
Domaine Des Schistes Cotes Du Roussillon Villages 2003 $12 (find this wine)
Balanced between acidity and tannin, taste the terroir! Easy drinking for Monday – Thursday.
Chateau D’Aussieres Corbieres 2003 $22 (find this wine)
I had to include this since it is a Lafite-owned project in the Corbieres–a synthesis of our two regions. Sadly, it was a tannic monster that I doubt will ever settle down.
Mas de Daumas Gassac, vdp d l’Herault 2003. $30 (find this wine)
When I poured it blind, the consensus was Bordeaux. Well, it is 80% Cab (and 20% of 10 other varieties) after all. It’s a serious wine from renegade winemaker Aime Guibert that has a long finish and would no doubt last decades in the cellar. This was the wine of the class for many people.
Chateau Gruaud Larose, 2002 Saint-Julien $38 (find this wine)
Approachable at this early age, balanced, mmm, delicious.
Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron – 2002 Pauillac $40 (find this wine)
Too young now for the Baron, but a serious wine that will be better in 3 years.
Chateau Cos D’Estournel – 2002 Saint-Estephe $65 (find this wine)
Excellent, dark, blackcurrant, tannins, slightly disappointing finish. But 50% more than the Baron? Bring me the Baron!
Chateau Suduiraut – 2002 Sauternes $22 375ml (find this wine)
Classic Suaternes at a very reasonable price. I bought more later.
Abbe Rous, Helyos, 2003, Banyuls, $40 (find this wine)
Very rich, but not unbalanced or over-the-top. One person ran out and got his wife a chocolate bar and she said it was a great pairing!
Separately I tasted the 2002 Lafon Rochet (find this wine). Approachable now but still could benefit from a year or two (or 10) in the cellar. This is the steal of the vintage at $20. I bought a case!
Note: I hope to see you for the Pinot Showdown, May 13, University of Chicago.