2009 L’Argilus du Roi, St Estèphe Bordeaux

As Alexander Pushkin, called the sun of Russian poetry, told us,
Posted 11th July 2012        

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As Alexander Pushkin, called the sun of Russian poetry, told us, habit is heaven’s own redress: it takes the place of happiness.

Human beings can adapt to anything. With time you get used to supermarkets, feeding the culture of never-ending discounts, customers being more thirsty for a deal than for a good wine, wine traders treating wine just as yet another commodity, buyers caring mainly about stocks and margins. It all becomes part of the wine trade landscape – familiar and increasingly dull. You get used to it too.

But once in a while you come across a wine that becomes a reality check. It reminds why you’re still in this business, doing what you do. You light up like a child even if before you were not in the best spirits. It also divides you – the wine is so good that you want to shout about it, but at the same time it’s so good that you really want to keep it only for yourself and a couple of your mates.

I’ll tell you though. The latest bottle that made me feel ecstatic was 2009 L’Argilus du Roi, St Estèphe. You know it couldn’t be anything but fine claret the second you smell it. But I wouldn’t immediately classify it as a Left Bank with it’s muscular wines dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon in a blend. This nose is too soft to be mainly Cabernet – you detect red fruits and silkiness of Merlot, so tasting it blind I’d think of Saint-Émilion and Pomerol first. Here after initial smoothness flesh and tannins of Cabernet Sauvignon show out – and it’s even before you taste the wine.

When I did, I thought of so many things at once – of L’Argilus’s plummy chocolaty flavours, of how the wine opened up even in an hour’s time since we opened the bottle, of the vintage which is only 2009, of an unusual proportion of varieties in the blend (which has 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc).

But this wine makes you feel more than think. I felt that it is only experiencing clarets like this proves that no one in the world stands a chance competing with Bordeaux in making wines of this style. Nowhere else can you find this evaluation of aromas and impeccable gradation of flavours. The components – the grape varieties, the juicy black and red fruits, violets and delicate spices – can be possibly replicated elsewhere, but there’ll not be the same harmony between every ingredient: no real marriage of pronounced flavour, precisely measured acidity and gentle ripe tannins. Or even if we imagine this is achievable, by no means will there be the same lightness – with this depth and concentration, this wine is merely 13% ABV.

Tasting the wine with a friend who is a wine lover as well as a musician we agreed that 2009 L’Argilus du Roi can be compared to a piece of music – professionally written, well-structured and beautifully interpreted. It’s easy to become a bit sentimental enjoying it, but the power of this wine is superbly controlled and not a single note is a coincidence. This is classy, seductive wine that is impressive now and has a great potential. I’m definitely buying a case.

This wine is available to buy here at £163 for a case of 12.


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Meet the Author:
Alya Kharchenko
There is not much out there that Alya wouldn’t try out – sometimes only for the sake of it, tackling obstacles of any kind being her drug of choice. But there are other things she is fond of: especially wining and writing – so wine writing came in handy. Trained as a journalist, Alya discovered her love for wine long before she moved from Moscow to London, which became her home five years ago. After having worked for the BBC, she took a leap of faith, and a few sips of wine, and started her first full time job in the wine trade at the UK's oldest wine merchant, Berry Bros. & Rudd. Since then she's worked as a sommelier and wine advisor, but writing has never been far from her mind - as well as a bottle of nice wine, suitable for any mood and occasion.