Monthly Archives: March 2012
When we think of the greatest Bordeaux red wines we often conjure the region of the Médoc along the left bank of the Gironde River. After all, the Médoc holds the greatest number of highly ranked appellations (Saint Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint Julien and Margaux) and chateaux (Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour, Chateau Haut-Brion) in the Bordeaux region. However, on the right bank is the Saint Emilion appellation that has both an older and more recent history than the Médoc, a slightly different structure of its wines and produces some of the finest wines in all of Bordeaux.
The Romans first grew vines in Saint Emilion, centuries before anyone cultivated grapes in the Médoc region. In fact, UNESCO has named Saint Emilion a world heritage site for being the oldest cultivated terroir in Bordeaux. Winemakers in Saint Emilion have been exporting their product since the 12th century. However, in the first half of the 20th century the wines of Saint Emilion were overshadowed by the wines of the Médoc that had been officially classified by the French government in 1855, under Napoleon III.
During this period many winemakers in Saint Emilion and the entire right bank had noticed that the Merlot grape was especially well suited to their terroir and it added a smoothness to the wine made from the dominant Cabertnet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes. Many growers wanted to grow a higher percentage of Merlot grapes. In 1956 there was a frost that reduced the harvest which drove prices of the wine up. Finally, they were able to invest in replanting Merlot grapes. This slightly changed the style of wines made on the right bank virtually overnight.
Saint Emilion wines were first classified in 1958 which brought the spotlight back onto the wines of this appellation. The wines were classified into 3 categories : Premier Grand Cru Classé, Grand Cru Classé and Grand Cru. The highest ranked chateaux in Saint Emilion are Ausone and Cheval Blanc which rank amongst the top chateau in all of Bordaux.
It is important to note the difference between Grand Cru Classé wines and Grand Cru wines. Wines marked Grand Cru simply adhere to 2 different qualitative rules different than those set by the Saint Emilion appellation: 0.5% higher alcohol and lower yield. Grand Cru Classé wines have been deemed of superior quality.
SoDivin has most of the best St Emilion chateaux in stock.
The current Premier Grand Cru Classé wines are:
Premiers grands crus classés A
Château Cheval Blanc
Premiers grands crus classés B
Château Beau-Séjour Bécot
Château Beauséjour (Duffau-Lagarrosse)
Château La Gaffelière
There are 68 current Grand Cru Classé wines.
Enjoy exploring the difference between Saint Emilion wines and wines from across the Gironde River.
At the end of each year SoDivin anticipates sales for the upcoming year and we stock our cellar according to what our customers will want. It is very popular right now to offer a bottle of wine as a gift from the recipient’s birth year. This means in 2011 we ramped up our stock of bottles from years ending in a 2. Of course not every vintage is exceptional. For Bordeaux reds, for example 1942 was okay in the vineyard but tough wartime conditions made it difficult to make excellent wine. 1952 is a mixed bag. 1962 was excellent and 1972 catastrophic. But 1982 was arguably the vintage of the century. People turning 30 this year who receive a red Bordeaux as a gift have an incredible wine tasting experience ahead of them. (I’m jealous, I was born in 1972).
Even if the vintage is not a good one, the fun can be in simply owning the bottle. Clients who call to get advice on a specific year or bottle in the end say that the fun is simply giving a bottle in the given year and they will take the risk. Often we find that if we taste a wine from a lowly ranked year there can still be quite a bit of charm in the bottle. Maybe it is because expectations are low and in addition, there really are often redeeming qualities in non-exceptional years. To drink a wine that has lived through the life you have lived is a moving experience. And remember that context plays a very important role in wine tasting.
However, those who were born in 1982 and are receiving red Bordeaux wines from this extraordinary vintage are incredibly lucky. Every day SoDivin receives orders of red Bordeaux wines from 1982 and it gives us great pleasure to ship them knowing that probably they are a gift for a loved one turning 30. These wines not only have the gift of sentiment but also the gift of the exceptional wine itself. Some consider 1982 the vintage of the century for Bordeaux reds; the debate is between 1982, 1961, 1929 and 1945.
This is what Robert Parker and Michael Broadbent have to say about the 1982 red Bordeaux vintage:
In Bordeaux, 1982 is celebrated as one of the best vintages of the 20th century, often compared to the 1929, 1945 and 1961 vintages. An extremely abundant harvest but also of great quality. 1982 produced the most complex and profound wines since 1961. The exceptional climactic conditions of 1982 made a wine in their image. Budding intervened by a hot, dry and sunny month of June foreshadowed an abundant harvest. July was extremely hot and temperatures in August were slightly below normal. Already at the beginning of the month of September the Bordelais winemakers were hoping for a big harvest of excellent quality. However, an intense heat wave that lasted 3 weeks…multiplying the level of sugar in the grapes, transformed an excellent year into a fabulous vintage.
Analysis of the 1982s show that they are the most concentrated and the most rich in extraction since 1961. Most [1982 Bordeaux wines] seem to have evolved very little since their time in oak barrels and have now totally recovered from the bottling. They deploy in the mouth extraordinary ample, rich and fat aromas of an exceptional richness that should last at least 10 to 15 years to come.
A milestone. The combination of richness and perceived quality matched the economic climate. The big guns still have fire power and length of trajectory.
To discover our selection of 1982 wines click here
All 190 of the bottles were bought as they were put on the market and they haven’t moved since. Stored in an excellent cellar, they are in perfect condition.
THE AUTHENTICIY AND EXCELLENT CONSERVATION OF THE BOTTLES ARE GUARANTEED.
You will find on this list Pétrus, Lafite Rothschild, Cheval Blanc, Margaux and an incredible series of 1982s.
Just click on the name of the chateau to be directed to the product page of our website.
|Léoville Las Cases||1982||10|
Drinking a wine in its prime 20, 40 or even 60 years after production is a unique drinking experience that even few regular wine drinkers have. Most wine is consumed within a couple of years after production and it is estimated that only 1% of all wine has the ability to age 10 years or more. So, what makes this 1% of all wines special? What gives them their superior quality and therefore a long life? Experts mostly agree on many of the reasons and research is always being conducted on the subject. Here are just a few reasons that the top wines in the world become stars.
The basic structure of both a grape and a red wine is sugar, acid, and tannin (a polyphenol). Each grape variety has different amounts of these innate qualities that are directly transmitted into the structure of the wine. (Winemakers can add these components to their wine to change the structure but I won’t go into that here). In red grapes some are sweeter, for example, or have thicker tannic skins. Syrah, mostly grown in warm climates, is dominant in sugar while Merlot is dominant in acid and tannin. Acid and tannin help give longevity to a wine therefore grapes that have these components will have the potential to have a longer life.
Terroir is a notion that is often mistranslated from Europe to the New World. In France, terroir is known as a homogenous soil within a homogenous climate. Yes, when a French winemaker talks about his terroir he is also talking about rainfall and sun exposure. The French believe that a quality terroir is one that is very rocky and well drained so that rainfall is held deep in the soil which forces the vine roots to grow very deep to search for water. The roots are therefore stronger and exposed to more nutrients in the soil. It is the case that the terroirs in Bordeaux, from which some of the longest lasting wines in the world are grown, are exactly like this and the winemakers are very proud of their terroir.
The number of vines in an acre or hectare is called yield. Vines need low yield i.e. less vines in a given area to become the best they can be. Each vine needs space around it to fully express all of its natural qualities. Grapes also need to be pruned well to, once again, allow full expression of each vine.
Each year the growing season is unique. The climate starting in winter and lasting until harvest determines the composition of the grapes and therefore the makeup of the wine. For example, if the year is hot the grapes may have thicker skins and a sweeter, more concentrated juice. If the year is cold the grapes may be underdeveloped and the wine may be more acidic. These are generalizations, of course. The growing season lasts months and weather changes constantly which impacts the grapes more subtly then I have described. An ideal vintage will be one that brings out the best in the fruit with balance in sugar, acidity and tannin. This translates directly to an excellent wine. Some of the best vintages of the 20th century are universally revered but they are never exactly the same in character.
Once nature has done its part and the fully mature grapes are moved into the cellar for vinification, it is up to the winemaker to guide the grapes through the transformation to wine. The choices throughout vinification are too numerous to talk about here, but every winemaker agrees that you can’t make an amazing wine without grapes that are anything less than a full expression of their potential.
The rare wine that peaks after 10 years in the bottle (or up to 50 or 70 years in some cases) is a rare conversion of ideal conditions from vine to vinification.
Here are some excellent vintages from supreme terroirs that embody perfect conditions for making wine that peaks decades after it was grapes on a vine:
1921 : Excellent in Sauternes