Wednesday, June 20, 2012

they must at least be cousins

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2009 Château Belle-Vue | AC Haut-Médoc

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2005 Coto de Imaz Reserva | DOCa Rioja

I began drinking Rioja fairly early for I think 2 reasons: they offered great value for a poor university student, and they were one of the few chances to taste old(er) wines. We had a lot of fun with these wines. A couple of them came in half bottles; I, of course, was just a novice wino back then, and the smaller bottles let me indulge without going over budget, and tolerance. What is it though, about Bordeaux and Rioja that just seem so similar? Is it the (sometimes heavy) oak treatment? The relative ripeness that modern vintages seem to produce? I still get excited drinking these wines. Like an old mentor, you can't forget the wines that helped you develop your palate.

We started receiving our 2009 Bordeaux En Primeur orders earlier this month, and I pulled out this bottle to taste - Belle-Vue, a cru Bourgeois from the Haut-Médoc. I've always liked this wine, sort of a classic throwback claret that always shows off vintage character well. Lots of petit verdot in the blend, and interestingly, a large percentage of the barrels used aren't French oak; they're Hungarian. The property lies on the boundaries between the Haut-Médoc and Margaux appellations. The three R's here: ripe, round, and rustic. Needs time, but I think this is going to be a delicious wine in a few years. The Coto de Imaz, what I think of as one of the great traditionalists of Rioja. I tasted the 1985 and 2004 a few years ago - the 1985 in particular was one of the greatest wine experiences I ever had. This 2005 Reserva is fabulous, all minerals and freshness, with that slight creaminess of the oak coming up. Finely structured, and you know this is something which will be fabulous in 10 years.

All I want to drink are honest and true wines. Interesting things that sing unabashedly of their heritage, and what they truly are. Two wines, one French, one Spanish, but brothers in spirit.

DF

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