Tag Archives: bordeaux
Happy 2013!! We were incredibly busy over the holiday season and surprisingly the beginning of 2013 hasn’t slowed down. Philippe has been buying a lot of wine to keep up with demand and a lot of interesting bottles have been flowing in.
Recently, Philippe bought several vintages of La Passion Haut Brion, a 1-hectar vineyard that was in the middle of Château Haut Brion. It has since been absorbed by Haut Brion but for decades it was it’s own estate owned and produced by a separate family. These bottles are incredibly rare not only because of their age but because the estate no longer exists and the vines are now part of one of the top chateaux in France, if not the world. We did a little research and here is what we found about La Passion Haut Brion :
Domaine de la Passion Haut-Brion, an estate measuring a little more than one hectare, is located in the heart of Château Haut-Brion. In 1919 the Allary family acquired it.
Since 1948, the cultivation of the vines and the vinification has been entrusted to Château Haut-Brion, the estate owned by the Dillon family.
30-year-old Cabernet and Merlot vines were then planted.
From 1954-1978, a portion of the crop (two-thirds) was bottled under the name Domaine de la Passion Haut-Brion: these bottles were reserved for the Allary family.
In 2012, the land became the property of Château Haut-Brion.
This acquisition is the ideal and natural conclusion for the vines which have produced so many great bottles under the labels of the estates of both the Dillon and Allary families.
SoDivin has several vintages in stock of this rare estate with an exceptional terroir that no longer exists. Here are links to these wines on the SoDivin website :
We are now in the month of October. The weather is getting cooler, even in the South of France. I’ve just purchased plane tickets to see my family for the holidays which makes me begin to anticipate the giant wave of orders for the holiday season. Philippe has been buying a lot of wines recently to keep up with our growing sales but also to gear up for the holiday season. We have the best French wines in old vintages, ready to put on your holiday table or to offer as a special gift for loved ones or as an end-of-the-year gift for clients. In France people give wine gifts in a year that is special to the recipient. Why not do the same for the people in your life?
Of course we have Château Mouton Rothschild, Château Margaux, Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Haut Brion, but we have many other bottles that cost under 100€ as well.
Have fun looking through our cellar. We will be adding wines daily over the next few weeks.
The entire SoDivin cellar, search by your own criteria
Remember, shipping to the United States can take up to 2 weeks because of Customs delays. Don’t leave your purchase to the last-minute!
Franck Dubourdieu, from negociant to critic
Franck Dubourdieu is a wine taster and enologue born July 27, 1939 in Barsac, France. His passion for wine was transmitted by his parents who were vine cultivators. Franck Dubourdieu is an agricultural engineer who received his diploma in 1964 from Montpellier. He then pursued medical school in Bordeaux. In 1976 he became a doctor.
Despite his two diplomas, he lacked the essential to live out his passion. Already in the field of wine as a negociant, he wished to deepen and validate his knowledge. In 1983 he obtained a university degree in wine tasting aptitude. This title allowed him to sate his passion for wine.
In 1967, Franck Dubourdieu had the job of high-level manager at the negociant Barton & Guestier in Bordeaux. Three years later, in 1970, he became co-director of the family estate located in Barsac. In 1980 he created a negociant company situated in the heart of his home town. In 2000, he became the managing director of DUBOURDIEU F Consultants.
The company has many activities, for example consulting and advising on quality practices, but also he organizes lectures on wine, gives evening tastings, wine tours and trips to discover vineyards over a weekend.
Franck Dubourdieu left his profession of negociant for good and concentrates on critiquing wine as an independent. He is the author of numerous tasting guides on the wines of Bordeaux: Brief vocabulary on the wine of Bordeaux, The Best Bordeaux Wines from 1899 to today, Good Bordeaux, 1500 Affordable Wines.
Franck Dubourdieu, has his own web site where he talks about his philosophy and shares his experiences. This portal also speaks about the most recent bottled wines, the different services offered by his company that he manages himself, wine futures, as well as good deals and commercial sites specializing in enology.
A regular SoDivin client in Japan has ordered 10 bottles of 1966 wines: Haut Brion, Palmer and Léoville Barton. The wines will ship today. It got me thinking about the 1966 vintage. While never described as one of the top vintages of the 20th century, it is a favorite vintage of some of the top wine tasters and is considered a classic Bordeaux vintage in its style. Deducing from the experts commentary on this vintage perhaps it’s fair to say that the 1966 vintage, being lean and elegant rather than large-structured and powerful, is in a style of Bordeaux that was appreciated several decades ago and still appreciated by the people who appreciate the subtlety and elegance in Bordeaux rather than the powerhouses that are valued today.
The weather was unusual, the spring started well but the summer was cold and rainy. The press predicted a catastrophic vintage. But at the end of August nice weather returned and September was quite warm. In the end, the weather pattern produced fine grapes .
What the experts say about the 1966 vintage :
Michael Broadbent :
One of my favorite vintages, which I have always described as a ‘lean, long-distance runner’.
Franck Dubourdieu :
Richer than the 1962, better balanced than the 1964, 1966 appears, in red wines, as a good classic vintage of which the acidity preserves the freshness and elegance of the fruit. The best wines will still drink marvelously well for another decade.
The book 1900-2000: A Century of Vintages :
A classic vintage, the 1966 has never been recognized as it should be. It took time to show its roundness but reveals sumptuousness over time.
Born in Baltimore on July 23, 1947, Robert Parker was on a track to have a brilliant career as a lawyer, having completed his doctorate in law in 1973.
He practiced as a lawyer at a law firm in Baltimore and left in 1984 to pursue his passion: wine.
It was at the age of 21 that he discovered his passion for wine. Robert Parker was on vacation in Strasbourg, France. One day to satisfy his thirst, the young man ordered a glass of wine, finding soda too expensive. He loved it and there began his passion. Each summer he came back to France to visit wineries and to learn about oenology. Upon each return from France he published his wine tasting notes. Parker had his own newsletter that was named “The Wine Avocate”
His taste in wine
The American journalist and wine taster particularly likes wines made from ripe and healthy grapes grown in low yields, grown simply and vinified simply. He places an importance on respecting the character of the grape variety, the vineyard and the vintage. He likes, above all, wines from the Bordeaux region, those from the Languedoc, Provence and the Rhone Valley. He is also interested in other wines produced in Spain and Italy.
His role as a critic
Parker brought many innovations to the universe of wine tasting and critiquing. Amongst the most important, we can notably distinguish his fight to give the taster his independence from the press, distributors and wine producers. He also asked that blind wine tasting be systematic. Finally, it is to him that we owe wine tasting notes on a scale of 100. The ranking is given to each product no matter its nature and provenance.
His own ranking system
Robert Parker’s ranking system goes from 50 to 100 points and is named « Parker Points ». The 50 points are divided between these four criteria: mouth, the bouquet, the robe and the potential to evolve. If a wine has between 96 and 100 points it is considered “extraordinary”. If between 90 and 95 points, it is excellent. And up to the range of 50 to 59 points the wine is considered unacceptable.
When Philippe mentioned that he had bought a couple of bottles of Mouton Rothschild 1945 I saw a twinkle in his eye and heard excitement in his voice. Mouton Rothschild is one of the best French chateaux (1er cru classé Pauillac) and 1945 is one of the best vintages of the 20th century, but this wine seemed especially coveted.
The wines arrived at SoDivin. I noted the condition of each bottle and saw toward the top of the label that “année de la victoire” (victory year) is written. 1945, an exceptional vintage to end the 2nd world war. Most of the time when the French talk about the 1945 vintage they mention what a morale booster it was to have such a great vintage after living through several years of wartime conditions. Even some other vintages during the war were good but most chateaux didn’t have the manpower nor the funds to make the most of the good grapes. The 1945 vintage is a symbol of the end of difficult years, and an exceptional vintage in itself.
As I added this wine to our website and read all of the commentaries from the experts it became very clear why Philippe was so happy to finally have this wine in the SoDivin cellar. Every expert ranked it 100/100 and Michael Broadbent gave it an unheard of 6/5. Wine Spectator says they only gave it 100/100 because they can’t go any higher. The consensus seems to be that this wine may last another 50 years. Here is what the experts say about the 1945 Mouton Rothschild :
A consistent 100-point wine (only because my point scale stops at that number), the 1945 Mouton Rothschild is truly one of the immortal wines of the century. This wine is easily identifiable because of its remarkably exotic, over-ripe, sweet nose of black fruits, coffee, tobacco, mocha, and Asian spices. It is an extraordinarily dense, opulent, and rich wine, with layers of creamy fruit, behaveing more like a 1947 Pomerol than a structured, powerful, and tannic 1945. The wine finishes with a 60+ second display of ripe fruit, extract, and sweet tannin. This remarkably youthful wine (only light amber at the edge) is mindboggling! Will it last another 50 years?
6/5 (6-2001) Yes, six stars!
The power and spiciness surges out of the glass like a sudden eruption of Mount Etna : cinnamon, eucalyptus, ginger. There is simply no other wine like it. Its taste is a component of smell, its fragrance is reflected on the palate. Still lovely, still vivacious. Seemingly tireless – indeed another half century anticipated.
Great sheen and lightening now but great shaded ruby. Chocolate and rich rum toffees on the nose – halfway to a Vin Doux Naturel – almost rancio! Cleans up in the glass. Really sweet and intense and you can really see the relation with 1961 – a great hot concentrated vintage. With amazing depth. Made at the end of the war with Philippe in his prime. Very clean but amazingly rich and intense. Life and zest and lilies and treacle but great energy. So long and rich and peacock’s tail. So different from the elegance of the 1953 Lafite and much richer than the Latour 1961.
Drinking the Guiraud 1990 recently got me wondering: what exactly makes Sauternes so magical? Other sweet wines can be lovely and elegant, but the style of Sauternes is surprising because of its power and elegance and complexity. Somehow it is a style of sweet white wine that is more masculine. Of course we’ve heard of noble rot, specific to Sauternes, that helps give the specific flavor and concentration, but what is it exactly and how does it give this extra dimension to the wine?
Sauternes is made from Semillon and Sauvignon grapes and sometimes a little Muscadelle.
The Sauternes appellation is located in the more general Graves appellation. Sauternes, Barsac and Cerons are appellations within Graves that produce sweet white wines. The advantage that Sauternes and Barsac have over Cerons is a special microclimate. Sauternes and Barsac are at the conflux of the Garonne and Ciron rivers where mist forms in the early morning that is a catalyst for the development of botrytis, that indigenous fungus we all have to thank for making Sauternes. The botrytis lies dormant until the climactic conditions are perfect for it to develop on the skins of the grapes. The boytris feeds on the water on the grapes making them more concentrated. The spores also consume five-sixths of the grapes’ acidity and one-third of its sugar. Thus the boytris converts a healthy, ripe grape with 13 percent alcohol to a fungus-covered mass with alcohol between 17 and 26 percent. The boytris also leaves new elements on the grapes that undoubtedly add to its superior complexity: glycerol, glucoic acid, saccharic acid, dextrin, enzymes, and botrycine. Then during the harvest, not everything is harvested at the same time. The botrytis should be at the height of its strength and activity when it is harvested. The pickers are experts and they pick only the grapes that are ready. There can be several days or a few weeks between selective harvests.
Sauternes can last longer than dry wines, often several decades or more than a century. Over time, the acidity devours the sugar and they become less sweet, develop a darker color and more concentrated aromas. At Christmas, Philippe ROUX, the owner of SoDivin, drank a 1959 Yquem that he said was one of the most incredible wines he has ever tasted and that it still has a long life ahead of it. He ranked it a perfect score. This is what he said about it:
“Beautiful brown colour. Splendid nose, very aromatic, perserved orange. Extraordinary mouth, round, very rich with a beautiful acidity. The result of the vintage is very clear because at more than 50 years old it has not yet ‘eaten its sugar’. An infinite length in the mouth. This wine has attained perfection. ”
So once again we learn that an exceptional French wine is the product of an excellent terroir and indigenous spores that make it impossible to replicate exactly the same style of wine elsewhere in the world.