Bargains from Bordeaux and Languedoc

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.

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2 Responses to “Bargains from Bordeaux and Languedoc”


  1. Not sure if this wine is available in the USA- if it is, grab it with both hands. Here in France, it costs about 3.50 euro’s in the Supermarket!!

    Picpoul- the little known wine with a great future

    This rare little gem of a white wine can be found in the Languedoc, France. Its full name is Picpoul de Pinet. Situated on a limestone plateau, the vineyards of Picpoul overlook the oyster and mussel-farming centre of the Thau lagoon. The white wine is made from a single Piquepoul grape variety and is a light acidic wine, with floral and citrus fruit aromas, which render it an ideal accompaniment to seafood. The AOC Coteaux du Languedoc: Picpoul de Pinet classification applies only to white wines.

    Picpoul is a rare, ancient French grape that thrives in the coastal sands near Sète in the Languedoc, by the Mediterranean Sea. Its blend of refreshing acidity and aromatic fruit flavors of citrus and peach, make it a fantastic, full-bodied wine to enjoy with food. It is particularly well suited to seafood because it has more floral flavors than a mineral wine, like a Sancerre. Unlike Voignier, another rare French white grape, Picpoul has not yet been exported much and is consumed almost exclusively by the locals and tourists who vacation in the area.

    This clear, light-gold wine breathes appetizing aromas of peaches, juicy and fresh, with a back note of lemon-lime. Crisp and tart, white-fruit flavors and lemon-squirt acidity are fresh and cleansing in a very long finish. Not overly complex but bright and appealing, it’s a first-rate seafood wine. It has been called the Muscadet of the south of France. It is the wine that is usually served with oysters that can be found along the coasts of the Languedoc.

    Serve very cool between 6 and 8°C to accompany all seafood, shellfish and fish. It can also be served as an aperitif, either alone or with a touch of crème de cassis (blackcurrant) or crème de mûre (blackberry).

    Picpoul Blanc (also spelled Piquepoul Blanc) is one of the lesser-known Rhône varietals. It is one of the thirteen permitted varietals in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where it is used primarily as a blending component to take advantage of its acidity. Like the better known Grenache and Pinot, Picpoul has red, white and pink variants, though Picpoul Noir and Picpoul Gris are very rare. Literally translating to “lip stinger”, Picpoul Blanc produces wines known in France for their bright acidity, minerality, and clean lemony flavor.
    
Most scholars believe Picpoul is native to the Languedoc region of Southern France, where it is still found today. Records from the early 17th century indicate that it was blended with Clairette (another white Rhône varietal) to form the popular sweet Picardan wine (not to be confused with the Chateauneuf du Pape varietal of the same name), which was exported by Dutch wine traders from Languedoc throughout Northern Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. After the phylloxera invasion at the end of the 19th century, Picpoul was not widely replanted. Today it is best known from Picpoul de Pine, the crisp light green wine of the Pinet Region in the Côteaux de Languedoc.
    So, when you are next in the Languedoc, or looking for wines in your Wine merchant’s store, take a serious look at wines from Picpoul. You will not be disappointed!
    Further info on wine-food-languedoc.com


  2. Darn it
    I just typed a whole long message, and when I tried to submit it my browser hung.
    Did it come though or is it lost and I have to do it again?


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