Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bordeaux Extract, and a Zinfandel of Note

There has been a good deal of buzz about the 2009 vintage in Bordeaux—excellent fruit, great potential, even at this early stage of the game—and, as with most years as promising as this one, it’s rare to hear any words of caution coming out of the Gironde.

Which is what makes declarations like Pierre Olivier Clouet’s so notable. M. Clouet is the oenologist at famed Chateau Cheval Blanc, and recently quoted him as saying that, “The problem in great vintages like 2009 is the false assurance that every bit of tannin will be ripe, so you might see over extraction of wines.”

He continued, “With weather so good and grapes so ripe, people think they can pigeage and pump-over to their heart's content, but I never saw as many over-extracted wines as I did in the 2005 vintage.”

Could this be the opening salvo in an effort to help Bordeaux maintain its traditional identity as the home of more subtle, finely honed wines, a bit of pushback against the ever-encroaching so-called “international style?” When Cheval Blanc’s oenologist speaks like this, people tend to listen…

Also, a quick wine-review note. Wine Spectator recently came out with its “Insider,” and the focus this issue was California, Washington Cabernet Sauvignons, and Champagne. As is so often the case, Seghesio has earned a number of accolades, most notably this issue for its Zinfandel Home Ranch 2007 bottling, a wine that, on a personal level, I’m a big fan of. As the weather turns cooler, thoughts might appropriately turn to rich, larger-scale wines like this one that the Wine Spectator describes as “rich and powerful…[with] aromas of black cherry and licorice, with dense plum, cracked pepper and espresso flavors that finish with ripe tannins.”

Sounds like a perfect October wine to me.


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