This wine completely flummoxed me in the shop, but I thought the label looked fancy so I might as well give it a go – after all, you can’t learn everything about so-called “fine” wines off Wikipedia.
Not yet, at least. (Still waiting for lickable screens.)
So, I suppose I should have tasted it blind (possibly in a soundless room with magnolia walls) but I did Google it and read a couple of brief sentences before we opened it to have with a dinner of couscous and meatballs in tomato sauce (not very French, I know).
I learned just enough to give me an idea of what I was in for: that Saint-Émilion AOC is in the Libourne subregion of Bordeaux on the right (AKA North) side of the Dordogne, which is a river. Probably – well, definitely – more information than I required to form the basis of an opinion before tasting, but I also learned that a “Grand cru” wine in this AOC is unique in not represent the top tier of classification as it does in other French areas. (Indeed there’s all kinds of controversy surrounding their classification in recent years if you fancy boring yourself to death.)
Good thing I didn’t remember what a “Grand cru” was from my ongoing WSET course or I may have been unduly excited.
Though I’m sure I wouldn’t have been too disappointed; this was a pleasing and complex wine: deep purple in colour at first, but hazy with sunset orange around the edges when held up to a white (or possibly magnolia) wall – it also boasted a rich variety of smells: full and fruity and slightly perfumed with dried flowers or potpourri.
Initially I was underwhelmed by the taste; it’s certainly on the lighter side and was pretty comfortable tasting with very soft tannins, but not exactly a sensational experience.
It certainly reminded me more of Merlot than any of the other grapes (Cab Sav or Cab Franc?) that it was likely to contain. But this softness on the palate combined with the ever unfolding array of scents created a distinctly pleasant and lasting effect; in fact, its finish was longer and more impressive, I thought, than the initial hit of flavours.
I’m only slightly dubious of the blurb’s claim that 1997 was a good year for the region – it seems to be 2nd cheapest on the market for the last few decades. I might check my Hugh Johnson wine book. Give me a minute…
Above average for its price range, specifically; generally Bordeaux from this area and year is ready to drink right now but this particular one could have waited a year or two. (Bad luck wine: no waiting for you.)
It was the dearest of my recent haul from Majestic at £20 and jolly good it was too, but I don’t know that I’d personally be stocking up on them at that price; the £7 Chilean Cab Sav I had in the same batch was better value as far as I’m concerned, and although I’ll admit it was less interesting, three of those beats one of these for me.