Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Great 2005 Bordeaux still available, a Fantastic Vintage - A Special Report by Ralph Del Rio Wine Correspondent

By Ralph Del Rio, Wine Correspondent

Bordeaux remains the point of reference for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The styles range from the firmer styles of Pauillac and St.-Estephe to luxuriance and richness of a Pomerol or St.- Emilion; the sweet perfume of Margaux or the tobacco bouquet of Graves.

The 2005 Bordeaux’s are a fantastic vintage often compared to the 2000, the 1982 and 1961 as the benchmark years. Those were the years that the terroir; the combination of climate, sun and soil was practically perfect for superior wine with aging potential. Depending on the year, because these wines develop well over time; how good they are can vary. For example, right now the 1996’s and 2004’s are just spot on and drinking very well!

The 2005’s have great tannin levels especially in the St-Julien and St.Estephe with a lot of concentrated fruit. Margaux, Graves and Pomerol’s quality was remarkably consistent and elegant. The fruit is round and rich which makes them approachable. Even the minor wines were of remarkable quality.

An interesting phenomenon occurred over the past 10 years. With the 2000 vintage considered so great, prices skyrocketed. The same occurred in 2005. Two earth shattering Bordeaux vintages in a decade! What is even more unusual is that the 2009 Bordeaux vintage is being tasted in barrels by critics currently and is being heralded as another blockbuster. How could this be? three stunning vintages in a decade in the new millennium.

Now here’s the catch. The 2008 and the 2009 vintages are not going to be released to the market until 2012 and the 2007 has been held back and has not been fully released. The 2007 was considered an erratic vintage. Plus there is no doubt that the 2007 would bring the prices back down to earth. There’s a lot of 2005 still out there and the 2006’s are just starting to show up at the stores.

If you travel to one of our local wine establishments like B-21 on US19 in Tarpon Springs; ABC Fine Wine & Spirits (near the Toasted Pheasant, a great little modern French Bistro) on North Dale Mabry; or Vintage Wine Cellars on Henderson (right across the street from the adventurous Queen of Sheba Ethiopian restaurant) you will find plenty of the great 2005’s.

Furthermore, because the 2005’s are so good, one can find great bargains even now. Now is the time to snatch them up. There are many sleepers and over performers in 2005. Many of these wines are just as good as those selling for $75 to $125 per bottle. Great 2005’s like Reignac, Charmail, Chateau D’Escurac and Chateaux Poujeaux are just hard to believe and are all priced between $20 to $35 and they’ll easily age well for many years.

Some 2005 Bordeaux values under $20 to seek out are Chateau Trebiac from Graves; Epicurea from Cotes De Bourg and Cote Montpezat Cuvee Compostelle from Cotes de Castillon. They will not disappoint. Sometimes it’s impossible to generalize but in this case run out and get some of these wines while you still can.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jefferson 4th of July barbecue and wine pairing

Thomas Jefferson once famously said, "No nation is drunken where wine is cheap and none sober where the dearness of wine substitutes arden sprits as the common beverage..." He cared about the social pace of fine wine dining but he wanted to make a less formal atmosphere at his parties. He was determined that a mellow atmosphere with good wines added up to a more cordial acceptance of his suggestions for running the country.

As we gear up for the 4th of July holiday, barbecue and good friends come to mind as well as great wine. Grilling requires mature, full reds with tannins and heavy dark fruit. While grilling, use intense heat to seal all the juices in the meat and form a crusty outside whether it red meat, sausages or chicken. Since grilling uses high heat it's fast. Think Red Zinfandel or a young Bordeaux from Cotes de Castillon. Since BBQ is is genarally heavy it matches well with heavier rustic wines. Think Oaky rich and fruity whites as well, like a Washington Reisling. The intense smokey flavors bounce on the palate. Put out some figs, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon and seedless grapes along a healthy serving of Camambert, Stilton, Spanish Manchego and Irish Cheddar and you have the makings of a great holiday spread.

Yes, cheeses are great too at the barbecue! Try the Camambert with the Bordeaux and watch your eyes roll back. Then try it with the cheddar and so on. Induldge! Invite your friends and family over and make sure you talk about the wine and how it all works because it does. Your holiday gang will appreciate it and to think this thought bubble all started with musing about Thomas Jefferson and a great real old book from the past called Jefferson and Wine by the Vineferas Wine Growers Association; nevertheless have great fourth!