Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2005 Chateau Fontblanche: High Quality and Low Price

It's no secret that Bordeaux is home to many of the world's most expensive wines. The coveted "Grand Cru Classe" wines can cost over $1,000 a bottle. Though they receive most of the attention when it comes to Bordeaux wines, the "Classified Growths" make up a very small (10% or less) amount of the total production from the area. Just within the greater Bordeaux AOC, more wine is produced than from the entire state of California!

Bordeaux's "other side", that is, wines not made by Chateaux classified in the 1855 Official Wine Classification, is chock full of incredible values and hidden gems. The point of all my rambling is to point out yet another example of why you should be looking for Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur wines to put in your regular rotation.

Take the 2005 Chateau Fontblanche Bordeaux, imported here into Oregon by Mitchell Wines and available for around $15, assuming there's any left. I picked it up at The Friendly Vine, in Forest Grove, because I saw it was from an amazing vintage and priced very nicely.

Sometimes, one desires Bordeaux. Every human on earth gets cravings, mine show up for wine. One night it will be a Bordeaux, the next night I'm scouring my collection looking for an Oregon pinot blanc.

For around $15 this wine seriously over-delivers, as proof I present my note from
"Decanted for a couple of hours before tasting. A lot of dark cherry and cassis on the nose, along with some herb and soil aromas. Smells pretty good for a $12 bottle of wine. The palate is (to me) pure Bordeaux, with lots of tannin creating a structure for flavors of black cherry and blackberry, cassis, dried herb, and black pepper. There's a definite smoky, savory note too, and if it were a bit more developed I'd like this wine even more. There's a bit of volatile acidity here that can be distracting at times, but again, for $12 this is a very tasty Bordeaux. Drink within the next 2-4 years."

If I were still in the business of rating wines, I'd give this a B+ (87 points), as it drinks better than almost every domestic wine in the same price point that I can remember having.

One of the things I love about Bordeaux wines, be they from the right or left bank of the, is that they can have this amazing sense of soul. If you do some digging, it's easy to find wines like this, where the quality level is excellent for the price, and the wine is actually interesting.

I offer this advice to those of you just starting to explore Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur: look in the $9-19 price range and seek out wines made primarily with merlot, as they'll be more accessible right now. This 2005 Chateau Fontblanche was 80% merlot with equal parts cabernet sauvignon and malbec making up the difference. Also, don't be afraid of Bordeaux wines with some age on them! Often times even the merlot-based wines are tannic beasts when young, but with time the tannins mellow and the flavors integrate into a delicious palette of flavors.

Stay tuned for more observations on Bordeaux and the wines of Bordeaux, inspired by my September trip to the region as a guest of Planet Bordeaux.

Were I to see this wine for sale again somewhere, I'd stock up. It's that good.

Beau Carufel

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