The October wine tasting takes us back to Bordeaux, but this time into its reds. Among the many Bordeaux appellations, St. Emilion is one of the largest, and since their blends contain a larger proportion of Merlot, they are also earlier drinking. The town of St. Emilion is also said to be the prettiest and most tourist friendly of the entire Bordeaux region.
They are not necessarily pricey, and I've seen bottles of St. Emilion for a little as $14, but vintage and reputation of the producer make large difference in quality with these. In the best vintages, with the most prestigious producers, they can be easily over $300 a bottle.
As an enthusiastic fan of Bordeaux reds, I was pleased that the overall response to these wines was positive. All of them exhibited complexity, dark flavors, and earthiness, and all bottles were from two outstanding vintages.
Sarah's winning bottle exhibited not only richness, but came at a relatively good price.
First Place: Chateau Balestard-la-Tonnelle 2000 (St Emilion). Exhibiting aromas of wet earth, mold, dark plums, prune, coffee, root vegetables, river stones, vanilla and wet stick. Stephen uncomfortably commented that it smells like "grandma's underwear after a trip to Tijuana". Tasted of brownies, moss, wet cork, berries, cherries, spices, fungus, ginger and graphite. Fleshy palate presence. Lasting finish. Received 31 total points. Sarah's bottle. About $37.
Second Place: Chateau Dassault 2000 (St Emilion). Soapy on the nose, along with vanilla, cream, sweet flower, prunes, cola, licorice, rubber, burnt sugar, cocoa, licorice. Medium bodied, with balanced fruit, alcohol and tannin. Stephen described it as "cream soda", while Ali wanted "to jump into the fluffy cloud of this". Long oak finish. Received 27 points. Kristin's bottle. About $40.
Third Place: Chateau Boutisse 2000 (St Emilion). More friendly on the nose than some of the others, featuring flowers, soil, vanilla, dark grapes, plums, cloves, bacon and vegetables. Tasted of black cherry, bubble gum, wood chips, charcoal, blackberries, milk chocolate and cranberry. Sarah felt it was like Dr. Brown's soda. Good attack, but seems to thin out a bit. Received 16 points. Stephen's bottle. About $32.
Chateau Monbousquet 1998 (St Emilion). Dark color. Aromas of sawdust, sweet dark fruits, pineapples, cassis, smoked meat and green tomato. Ali suggested that "it smells like a wine you drink at Christmas", and Sarah noted, "smells like a Yankee Candle". Brighter fruit, cherries, tobacco, and chocolate. Heavier on the palate, with youthful tannins, sweet spices and metal on the finish. Received 12 points. David's bottle. About $80.
Chateau Larmande 2000 (St Emilion). Revealing scents of dried dark fruits, figs, fungus, wet soil, chalk, vanilla, tomato and smoke. Weighty, with pronounced cherry and cola flavors. Not as tannic as the others, with a silky, round mouthfeel. Andy felt it was like "flat cherry coke". Woody finish, that also showed awkward green bell pepper flavors. Received 4 points. Ali's bottle. About $40.
Chateau Ferrand-Lartigue 1998 (St Emilion). Dark, with a bit of brown at the edges. Plums, raisins, currant, cedar chips, cinnamon, nutmeg. A bit musty. Ali felt it the nose was like "some kind of clothing storage". Light to medium bodied. The palate offered tobacco, espresso, bitter chocolate, green bell pepper. Dry, alcoholic aftertaste. Tasted the thinnest of the night. No points. Andy's bottle. About $40.