The Bordeaux connection

Notes on 4 wines from a recent flying visit to London were I got together with some wine loving friends. These were drunk at Chez Max, a “BYOB” restaurant. The vague theme of the evening was Bordeaux grapes. We had a classic, Merlot-dominated, right bank Bordeaux from Pomerol made by Michel Rolland, a wine from Chile, also Merlot-based and also made by Rolland, an Australian Cabernet/Merlot and finally an unusual single varietal bottling of Petit Verdot (one of the minor red Bordeaux grapes) from Argentina. The tasting was not blind.

The Wines

Château le Bon Pasteur (Pomerol) 1994
Gorgeous, classy blackcurrant and plum fruit with little fragrant edges of violet and cedar. On the palate a very rich core of blackcurrant and bitter dark chocolate, but all in a tight, lean format. Drying, peppery tannins dominate the finish which is long and nuanced with spice and earthy notes. A slightly more austere wine than the 1993 tasted a week or two back, but very fine.

Casa Lapostolle (Chile) Merlot Cuvée Alexandre 1996
Riper in style, much more brightness and roundness about the nose with raspberry and creamy blackcurrant. On the palate this is as lush and sweetly fruited as the Pomerol is structured and reserved. This wine displays its wares brashly, but is quite lovely in the richness and depth of fruit, backed up by ripe tannins. Low acidity, but a good finish. Although strikingly different from the Pomerol, and half the price, each is excellent in its own way. (Current vintages around £12/$20US and £30/$48US respectively).

Bannockburn (Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 1995
Very aromatic nose with jammy mulberry fruit, charry oak and fragrant, leafy, eucalyptus notes. Distinctively Australian. The palate shows a little dank, green edge that’s not entirely pleasant, but that gives way to juicy blackcurrant fruit. Medium-bodied and with good balance, fine tannins and quite savoury lemon acidity. Good.

Lujan de Cuyo (Argentina) “Alicia” Petit Verdot 1998
This is one of a small range of bottlings “liberated” from the private cellar of winemaker Alberto Arizu by UK merchant Adnams, who discovered these experimental barrels made from his ultra-premium grape selection and persuaded him to sell a few cases. Weighing in at £20 ($32US) which puts it close to the top of the Argentina price range, you would expect a lot from this wine. It has a wonderfully creamy, dusty, blue/black fruit nose. There are damsons, blueberries and dusty plum-skins. It has a deep, deep creamy palate with a raft of soft, velvety fruit coating the tongue with concentrated bitter-sweet flavours. Rich and long, it is perhaps a little one-dimensional, but who cares with such hedonistic depth and purity of fruit. Superb.