Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bordeaux wine: it has everything and nothing more

I was not sure what to expect the other night when I opened a bottle of 1998 Château d'Aiguilhe. It is a Côtes de Castillon, an appellation next to Saint-Emilion that had the reputation to produce rather rustic wines, although of good value. Located on hills overlooking the Right Bank of the Dordogne River, Château d'Aiguilhe is one of the oldest estate in the region. Its sun-facing vineyards have excellent natural drainage with thin clay soils over a limestone base. In 1998, the estate was acquired by Stephan von Neipperg of Château Canon La Gaffelière. Since then, a new modern cellar has been built and new vines have been planted.

Although the 1998 vintage didn't benefit from these costly investments, the wine was absolutely delicious. A blend of 80 percent Merlot and 20 percent Cabernet Franc, it showed a deep garnet color with a hint of orange at the rim. The nose was peppery with aromas of sweet berries. On the palate, it was medium-bodied with notes of earth, blackberry, and cocoa, and a rather lengthy finish.

That reminded me of that quote from Jean-Bernard Delmas, chief winemaker at Château Haut-Brion, that I read recently. “Le Bordeaux: il a tout et rien de plus.” (The Bordeaux: it has everything and nothing more).

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