Saturday, March 15, 2008

An Introduction to Bordeaux: Margaux

The other night we had the opportunity to taste Chateau Baury 2004, Margaux. As I was trying to find some information on this wine (unsuccessfully) I remembered our host from Salem Wine Imports commenting that he hadn’t had much luck pinpointing it either.

I’ve stated more than once that I’m not interested in writing “educational” pieces on wine yet, I find myself about to do just that. Actually, this is really for my own benefit: After all, I had to do a little research so I wouldn’t sound stupid, and I couldn’t leave it up to Taster A because he recently saddled me with the task of “figuring out France” (no small task).

The difficulty with this particular Chateau Baury bottling is the fact that it’s apparently a brand name produced by Chateau Brane-Catenac but, it is not listed as a “second” or “other” wine in any of the reference books. Going to the Domaine Lucien Lurton & Fils La Passion des Terroirs website, I discovered that besides distributing first and second labels from the families eleven estates, the company has become a wine merchant specializing the distribution of Classified Growth, second wines, Crus Bourgeois, etc from all over Bordeaux.

So, the one thing we know from the label is that the this wine is bottled at the second growth Brane-Cantenac estate, which is in Cantenac south of the commune of Margaux in the Margaux appellation and most likely contains the following:

Cabernet Sauvignon 70%
Cabernet Franc 15%
Merlot 13%
Petit Verdot 2%

Now for the tasting notes!
This was a very pleasant and evolving wine which started out with raspberry, smoked meat, blueberry, and a certain ‘roastiness’. The wine is well-balanced on the palate and has nice mildly spicy long finish.
Later I found cassis, cake, and a wisp of tobacco.

“Cake?” you ask?
I’m not sure that dissecting every flavor in a wine (or a dish) is necessarily complimentary. I still have Ratatouille fresh on my mind…Take French toast for example: What does French toast taste like? Does it taste like eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, bread and butter? Or, does it taste like French toast? I think it tastes like French toast and I’m glad. So, rather than saying “vanilla and sweet spice” for this wine, I’m going to call it cake.

A Good Introduction to Bordeaux
I’ve noticed a tendency among wine professionals to start Bordeaux newbies off with an “introductory” wine in the $10-$15 range as a good gradient for training the palate to pick up and appreciate the more subtle nuances of this Old World style. I think sometimes this approach can backfire if the bottle is unspectacular. The Chateau Baury 2004 is an interesting and accessible wine in the $25-$30 range and I think it makes an excellent introductory wine.