Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2008 Côtes de Castillon

2008 Chateau d'Aiguilhe2008 Chateau d'Aiguilhe

2008 Chateau d'Aiguilhe2008 Chateau d'Aiguilhe

2008 Château d'Aiguilhe | AC Côtes de Castillon

A lot of hyperventilating has been going on online about the current state of Bordeaux wines. Prices are in the stratosphere, American critics are running wild, and most troubling, the French seem to actually believe all the hubris written about them. No one disputes that the Bordelais make good, sometimes truly great wines. But it's not a religion, despite what some would have you think. And that's not even going anywhere near the issue of what they call modern Bordeaux. Bordeaux has never been a real organic, agricultural place - like its people, the wines have always had a certain aristocratic flair. Some of the most advanced equipment is now being used there, removing the wines even further from what terroir lovers think of as natural. It used to be that one could easily distinguish Left Bank from Right Bank wines . . . differences are much more blurred now, with wines seeing ever more ripeness, extraction, and oak. The unholy trinity of modern wine.

Count Stephan von Neipperg seems like a great guy. Articulate about his wines, dashingly debonair, and if anyone can bring back the moustache, it's the Count. I have a few vintages of d'Aiguilhe put away, and having just received the 2008, decided to have some fun. The vineyards are biodynamic, but I don't think anyone can dispute that they are modern. Immediately dark, inky even . . . I can't remember the last wine I drank that stained the glass like that. Initially, very aromatic. Minerals and mocha, some toasty oak. Very ripe fruit, slightly jammy. Palate somehow doesn't deliver to what the aroma suggests. Lacking in weight, silky in texture, but the finish drops off. Very ripe, with noticeable alcohol.

What made the greatest impression on me was this sense of modernity of the wine, of cool technical precision. I can't think of another way to describe it . . . just a cold wine, like a slab of Carrara marble. Structured, but the palate disappoints. Promises too much on the nose, and just does not deliver. The wine devolved further with air, losing a lot of character, a lot of freshness, and even began seeming tired. I don't know what to think. This is still very, very young; this was how it was showing now, but I'm hoping for some surprises. Two more bottles left, to be revisited in a few years.

What answers does this wine give us? You can't just generalize and say that all modern Bordeaux fits into the same mold of too much ripeness, too much alcohol, too much new oak. But I am a bit disappointed. It's a good wine, but is it a good Bordeaux? Is it even recognizable as a wine of Castillon? Some question marks, which future bottles will hopefully clarify.



  1. Any reommendations for 2010 futures, around the same price point? I havent made my purchase yet!

  2. I cut down severely on my 2010 order. I'm making a statement and replacing Bordeaux with Barolo in my cellar. But you can't go wrong with something like Faizeau or Belle-Vue. Too bad Chasse-Spleen and Poujeaux went up to $45 for the 2010s