Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Cabernet from Bordeaux

I began my search for a Cabernet Sauvignon from outside the US sooner than expected. (I mentioned yesterday that the theme of the next meeting wine tasting group I attend is Cabs from any where but here.) Last night when searching the wine isle at Safeway grocery store I spotted a Cab blend that could be a good candidate, the 2002 Larose-Trintaudon 2000 Cru Bourgeois Haut-Médoc. What a mouth full!

Wines from Bordeaux (located in the South-west of France) are so famous that it's very expensive to buy a top named example. Fortunately, there are many "budget Bordeauxs" to be found that help a wine newbie get in on the fun. The wine I found comes from the left bank of the Bordeaux in the Haut-Médoc appellation. Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet-Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenère are the only grapes authorized in the Médoc.

The blend I chose is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Cab Franc, so it meets the criteria for our Cab tasting. The grapes are grown and made into wine at the beautiful estate of Chateau Larose-Trintaudon. This winery has been around since the 1800's.

When I tried this wine, I followed Dr Debs' decanting instructions recently posted on Good Wine Under $20. (It's a funny that when I visited the winery website, they recommended decanting the wine for an hour!) I'm glad I did because the wine changed and got more interesting after an hour (is a five-year-old Bordeaux considered young?)

I took a small amount of the wine to try before the hour decanting to compare the difference. On the first sniff I took I could smell cherry and something I couldn't place. I decided to really take my time and determine what I was smelling and finally came up with menthol or something like I had smelled in medicine before. After and hour it was more like cherries and rubber bands! When I first tasted the wine, it reminded me more of a Rhone wine with the major grape being Granache, not Syrah. I couldn't really taste the cherry I smelled, but the medium tannins were very pronounced. After decanting, there was more fruit and the tannins blended for a cool mix. I also detected something that reminded me of raw broccli, though not so much the flavor when you are eating it but the after-taste. Speaking of after-taste, the cherry and tannins lingered for a while after each sip.

This wine would be much better with food than by itself. I kept imagining that a medium-rare steak with mild seasoning would go really well. If you've had a Bordeaux blend like this, what foods have you enjoyed it with? This bottle cost $18.99 and I would buy it again if looking for a red blend. It definitely didn't have the fruit forward characteristic I've come to associate with Cabs, but I think I might enjoy a Cab blend like this more with a meal. It's going to be fun searching for Cabs from somewhere else!

Tasting Notes:

Color: Dark cranberry with dark pink edges

Aroma: Cherry and menthol, rubber bands after an hour of decanting

Taste: Slight cherry, with medium tannins, possibly broccli

Body: Medium mouth feel, some heat before decanting

Finish: Cherry and tannins

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