This is one of our first arrivals from the highly regarded 2010 vintage, and if the delectable style of this modestly priced petite château is any indication, wine lovers are going to be arguing for decades over which is the greater vintage, 2010 or 2009. Made from a blend of 50% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 18% Cabernet Franc, this fruit-forward wine, from the northern part of the Entre Deux Mers appellation, is made by Jean Lobre and his two sons, whose family has owned Bellevue Rougier for four generations. Absolutely ready to drink now, this easy-drinking Bordeaux offers oodles of soft, spicy fruit, lightly seasoned by notes of red berries, Provençal herbs, and cedar. Although it has sufficient stuffing to match with main courses of meat or poultry, this wine is also delicious by itself or with light cheeses.
Our friend, owner Francois Nony, just keeps raising the bar at Caronne! A perennial winner, his 2010 has a nice bit of blackcurrant in the nose, with well-integrated, ripe tannins. There are attractive Medoc earth flavors that carry through into a long and elegant finish. (tasted twice including once at the chateau)-- CW Wine Staff (April 2011)
Throw this impressive, full-structured wine into a blind tasting of St.-Emilion Grand Cru, and don't be surprised if it beats out one or more of the big boys. It tastes considerably more expensive than its modest price would suggest. To the massive 2005 Côte Montpezat, which was one of our favorite petit chateaux of that great year, the 2009 adds an element of fruity succulence, which is the hallmark of the remarkable 2009 vintage. Deep ruby in color, with dark, roasted fruit, shaved cedar, and new oak prominent on the nose and on the palate, this concentrated wine begs for further cellaring, but is quite delicious now (decant 45 to 90 min. in advance).
Produced on a well-situated 30-acre vineyard located in a picturesque village near Pomerol, this 2010 petit chateau has a definite Right Bank character. Although Merlot (70%) dominates the blend percentage-wise, the 30% Cabernet component (19% Cabernet Franc and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon) informs this charming wine's sense of style, adding a distinctive cassis/blackcurrant/peppery note that reminded me just a bit of Château Figeac or Vieux Château Certan (high praise indeed for an $11 wine). Quite ready to drink now, the palate impression is of crisp red and black fruit, with the aforementioned notes of blackcurrant leading the charge, followed by hints of vanilla from barrel aging on the finish. Nice drink. -Ben Giliberti, CW Director of Wine Education
Bordeaux's heretofore obscure Côtes de Castillon region, the home of Château Pitray, appears to be poised for stardom. Recently, the region has attracted the attention of star winemakers from nearby Saint Emilion and Pomerol, These boutique level vignerons have been drawn by the region's outstanding clay-gravel soil, which is similar to that of Saint Emilion and Pomerol, and clearly capable of producing first-rate wine. Château Pitray has been one of Calvert Woodley's best-selling petit château since the legendary 1982 vintage, when we first discovered its outstanding quality and value. As good as the' 82 was, the 2009 is in a different class altogether. Raves Robert Parker, "the finest Pitray yet made. Its deep ruby/purple color is accompanied by copious aromas of crushed rocks, red and black currants, and a hint of kirsch. Medium-bodied and loaded with fruit with impressive glycerin and lushness, it offers a lot of flavor for its humble appellation and price point." -- Ben Giliberti
Supple and smooth, this is a distinctly pretty Graves rouge, with ripe Cabernet and Merlot fruit gracefully layered over soft tannins. The voluptuous style of the 2009 vintage really plays to its strengths, and combines nicely with the château's excellent Graves terroir. The owner is Michel Boyer, whose daughter Catherine d'Halluin also makes outstanding wine at Château Clos Bourbon in the Premières Côtes de Bordeaux.
Dubbed a "sleeper of the vintage" by Robert Parker, the 2009 Château L'Estang offers pure, nicely delineated flavors of red berry and cassis, gently layered over fine-grained tannins. Decidely stylish.
New! The just-arrived 2010 Château La Maroutine Bordeaux is what I like to call an ideal "multi-task" red. You can take it home, pop the cork, and drink it tonight, or you can choose to cellar it for 2 to 3 years, to be enjoyed as it matures gracefully. In addition, while the super-low price makes for affordable everyday imbibing, it has the style and panache to serve without the least trepidation when company arrives for dinner. A classic Right Bank blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, I found the 2010 La Maroutine particularly attractive due to its immediately enjoyable vibrant, tangy red fruit, which jumps with notes of wild strawberry, cassis, with a hint of marjoram. Although not in the least heavy or over extracted, it offers an unusual degree of definition and penetration on the palate for a wine in this price category. The tannins, which in typical 2010 fashion are crisp and a bit crunchy/taut at this point, give the wine excellent freshness, while providing the structure needed for a short-term aging potential of 2 to 3 years. In short, a terrific "house" Bordeaux rouge, at a great price.--Ben Giliberti