DEFCON 5: Bordeaux

DEFCON 5: Bordeaux

Posted on Sep, 12. 2011 by

Categories: Wine

Have you ever struggled with turning someone on to Bordeaux? You look through your collection and realize your tastes have drawn you on to particulars. Should I open this one? No they won’t get the subtle elegance of well aged Bordeaux and will lose the charm in want of fruit. How about this one? No they may balk at the youthful tannins and break my heart by telling me it’s a bit dry.

I will not draw out the fine details of the wine as I hate the laborious adjectives of the trade. The agreement that this was a DEFCON 5 wine was instantly decided on between Evan, Rives and I. The style is immediate, delicious Cabernet fruit, pure but with an underlying classic Bordeaux feel.

This is our demarcation for wines that we hold in the highest regard for their respective quality-for-price-ration (QPR). They are the no-brainers that we offer with zero reservations as a must-have wine, in volume if you can. This wine is our top pick.

I remember attending the Calvert Woodley Bordeaux futures dinner featuring the 2000 vintage. The then director of esteemed second growth estate Chateau Cos d’Estournel was speaking on new wine trends in Bordeaux. Specifically he was praising the then emerging supper styles that micro-oxygenation was allowing for, claiming that his wine and the future of Bordeaux resided in this style wine. His claims were couched in the dual wonder that the wines would age well as they historically had whilst being immediately approachable in their youth. This was the stalwart old world wine regions iron gauntlet of defense against the onslaught of highly rated immediately accessible California wines.

This shift marked the beginning of Bordeaux wines styled to compete with the youthfully accessible and immediately delicious new world flavors. That and a firm belief that they had sacrificed nothing of their old world heritage and charm. If you drink a Cos d’Estournel from the late 90’s to present I think and hope you will agree that they indeed may have succeeded in this improbable but potentially awesome goal.

The wine that has caught our attention for this e-mail is a simple Haut Medoc from in and around the village of Margaux. It is a classic Cru Bourgeois, the estate dating back to the medieval era. There is a lot of history with the estate but the contemporary changes are what are important to what we have to offer you today:

Groupe Taillan, led by Jacques Merlaut, took possession of the property in 1997. The Merlaut-Villars family now own a host of properties in the region, including Ferrière, Gruaud-Larose, Chasse-Spleen, La Gurgue and Haut-Bages-Liberal. Claire Villars is responsible for winemaking at many of them, but here at Chateau Citran it is Céline Villars that holds the reins.

While I’m quoting we might as well get some of the professional facts out of the way:

The terroir is typically gravelly, with some sand, marl and chalky clay, and the vines show a slight predominance of Cabernet Sauvignon (58%), the balance all Merlot, with an average of 25 years…The vineyards are ploughed between the rows, and the harvest is naturally manual. Fermentation is in stainless steel, with temperature control, with a three week cuvaison, and then one year in barrels of which 40% are replaced each vintage. The wines are subsequently fined using egg white prior to bottling, the grand vin being Chateau Citran, 25000 cases per annum, the second wine Moulins de Citran, 16000 cases per annum.

The wine has been rated by almost all of the professional reviewers culminating in a 92 point score from Wine Enthusiast. That said, many of the reviews of this wine were merely in the high eighties and I believe that is why the wine is still available at such a good price. This wine represents one of the most exciting aspects of the wine trade for me, ‘the under the radar’ deal. Who knows why this happens? A wine has a life of its own and no one knows how exactly it will develop in the bottle. In my career this has been the background for some of my greatest finds, a wine is reviewed and forgotten, it then flowers in the bottle and you discover it becasue you don’t merely seek out highly rated wines and your mind is blown what the others have missed.

Evan, Rives and I were present to taste this wine together in a line up of about 20 different Bordeaux ranging in price and quality including certain third growth wines and their kind. From the entire line up, this wine stood so far out in front that we finished the bottle in the course of rereviewing it over and over again. At our first taste of it about three quarters of the way through the line up there was total silence. And then we began to just look at each other each with a mouthful of the stuff and the unspoken ‘holy crap!’ hung thick in the air between us.

What was immediately apparent was that this was one of those Bordeaux that embodied the two fold dream I had heard the guy from Cos talking about all those years ago. I have never tasted a Bordeaux this forward and accessible owning all the life, fruit and elegance of a top California Cabernet whilst still retaining its true Bordeauxness to the fullest. When Rives, Evan and I began speaking this was the discussion. “Holy crap, this is going to blow the minds of our California Cab drinkers,” “Yes, but it has everything you want from a Bordeaux, our Bordeaux fans are going to love it.” and so on. Let’s just sum up by saying that Chateau Citran got it’s chocolate in our peanut butter and be done with it.

This is the instant ‘turn on’ wine of the Bordeaux world. You will want to gulp it down, bottle after bottle, it is pure deliciousness encased in classiness. It is regal and charming but accessible, the princess she wants to party.

My highest recommendations.

This is the last wine from the Bordeaux offering that we are still waiting on from this summer. All of the wines are not yet in but will be by the end of Sept. If they are much further delayed we will demand a discount on the entire order that will be passed on to you all.

2008 Chateau Citran, Haut Medoc
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $22.83 • Premier Cru: $23.86 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $31.13
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