The last time I wrote about Bordeaux, the outstanding 2000 vintages had just been released. Now the 2005s are arriving, and it looks to be another exceptional vintage. There's no disputing Bordeaux's greatness—the region produces some of the most expensive and sought-after wines in the world. Pinot-loving Miles' favorite wine in the movie Sideways was a bottle of Cheval Blanc, a Bordeaux and a very pricey one at that. These red wines are typically a blend of different grapes, the proportion and variety varying across the region, but including cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and malbec among others. And while the 2005 vintage is one to buy for the cellar, our tasting showed that 2004 should also not be overlooked. Here are this week's top picks:
2005 Chateau de Candale, $42
A St. Emillon Grand Cru, Candale is a small property producing only some 800 cases of their top wine. The blend is 80 percent merlot, with 20 percent cabernet franc, and it is deep, round and ripe on the nose with classy berry, anise and dark chocolate aromas. On the palate, creamy berry fruit flavors are nicely balanced by just the right bit of acidity. This is a full-bodied wine with a silky texture and velvety tannins that caress the palate. It's almost too easy to like, but that appeal comes at a relatively high price.
2004 Chateau Haut Saint Brice, $26.50
This blend of 60 percent merlot and 40 percent cabernet franc is the second label for St. Emillon Grand Cru, Chateau Pas de l'Ane. Sweet boysenberry fruit aromas dominate the nose that's laced with licorice, leather, faint herb and sandalwood. It displays a nice richness in the mouth with smooth berry fruit up front, backed by lightly tart cherry, both colored by a light hint of pepper and spice. Soft tannins and a kiss of oak come through especially on the supple finish.
2004 Chateau Lalande Balestard, $22
Elegantly perfumed aromas of rose hip and cherry blossom with touches of black licorice, spice, earth and shiitake mushroom. It's very well-balanced on the palate, where bright red fruit plays against dark plum. A good core of acidity helps to even things out. Delicate in style, this second label for Chateau Balestard is 100 percent merlot, and shows real finesse throughout. A nice bit of that shiitake mushroom colors the finish in this well-priced Bordeaux.
This week's panel: Bruce Curfman, Boise Co-op Wine Shop; David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op Wine Shop; Cindy Limber, Bardenay; Karen McMillin, Young's Market; Leslie Young, Boise Co-op Wine Shop.