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A Bordeaux(ish) weekend

October 19, 2008

In my…commitment…to understand the scope and reach of Bordeaux’s varietals in their blended forms, I had a packed week/weekend featuring three of the five (Cab Franc, Sauv. and Merlot), blended with a few additional curveballs.  The lay of the land is quite interesting. I put the Nolados and the Cambra at the top, the Geol and Picque Caillou on the bottom.

I hope to try North and South American efforts plus an Italian to complete the circle.

Dominio Buenavista, Veleta ‘Nolados’ 2005

~$14US, 40%, Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet Franc and 20% Tempranillo, Vino de la Tierra Contraviesa Alpujarra, Granada, Spain

Deep ruby-purple. Heady aromas of plum, cassis, supported by red cherries and a subtle earthiness and minerality beyond. On day 1, the fruit was had big presence front and center, but it was not overpowered by the acidic lift and fine, but tight tannins. Deftly integrated oak – some spices and caramel, but again, balanced and harmonious. On day 3, the wine was generously evolved, smooth as silk with secondary and tertiary flavors and aromas…leather, tobacco, and a dusty, gravelly road. Tons of old world character lurking behind ripe-new-worldly fruits. And sweet tannins moving towards a clean finish.

I would have probably overlooked this wine, had it not been for a lucky tasting with the head of the estate, Dr. Juan Palomar and wife, locally last year. Their efforts are truly a great success –  This wine is a home run and an astounding value.


Rafael Cambra ‘Dos’

~$20US, 50% Cabernet Savignon, 50% Cabernet Franc, Valencia, Spain

While his Monestrall-based ‘Uno’ was less impressive to me, the ‘Dos’ delivered the goods. Deep dark violet color. The shy nose that opening up over the course of 5-6 hours – showing cherries and red currant, with a floral overtone. A little wet straw, bay leaf, green pepper and orange-zest too. The palate was full and vibrant, with a great acidity and structure – which softened to become almost lush, aside from some alcoholic bite on the backend. There’s a zesty Priorat-like schiste flavor on the finish. Sturdy.

This is a very precise and focused wine, with a understated elegance and an exotic streak. Bordeaux meets Priorat. Only a smidge less ABV would’ve made this classic. Maybe the 2004 or 2006  are a little less hot – I hope to try.


Thomas Cusine ‘GEOL’ 2005

~$21US, 65% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 8% Carinena, Costers del Segre, Spain

A Monsterous blast of fruit from popping the cork to pouring…This is a ripping, ripe, large-scaled wine, and not your father’s Merlot. Lots of stewed fruit, plums, blackberries, and cherries. Some disintegration with a sweet syrupy oakiness, which turn me off a little. Very concentrated. The tannins seem medium, but the alcohol definitely seems hotter that the 14.5% ABV on label. But beneath lies an energy gives the wine momentum and keep it from flabbing out. This is a full-throttle primary fruit monster right now…It may become more complex and settle down, but there is plenty to enjoy if you’re in the mood now.

Château Picque Caillou 2005

~$20US, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux France

Beguiling aromas of Cherry cordials, tobacco, Spanish cedar, and sandalwood. Interesting and full of character – but a little thin through the palate. Clean minerality in the finish. Firm tannins and forward acidity probaby portent a good chance of fattening up in bottle over the next 3-5 years. Wait on this one – while the nose is cool – the palate is dissappointing right now.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 20, 2008 4:54 pm

    Sounds like you had a good weekend! Might be interested in continuing that weekend into the week 🙂 We are celebrating Bordeaux Week – you can find details on the celebrations here:

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