2006 Clos la Madeleine
Like most English speakers, I am more familiar with Left Bank Bordeaux than Right Bank Bordeaux. This is understandable when you consider how hard it is to find some of the wines in Saint-Emilion and Pomerol… For instance, the smallest classified growth in the Médoc, Château Ferrière, has 12 hectares of vines. As for the Saint-Emilion crus classés, Clos la Madeline has 2 hectares, and there’s one even smaller: Clos Saint Martin with just 1.33 hectares!
Clos Saint Martin is on the limestone plateau, quite close to the town of Saint-Emilion and surrounded by Bélair-Monange and Ausone.
Anyway, I opened the 2006 Clos la Madeleine for dinner and followed its development throughout the meal and again the next day. I tend to think of the 2006s not so much as light wines, but ones that are easy-going and early-maturing. So, I thought this would be suitable. I was also interested to discover a grand cru classé I had never tasted before.
I was in for a very pleasant surprise. The wine is a lovely carmine color and the nose is subtle, sweet and enigmatic with some plum and dark chocolate overtones, as well as a perfumed, cosmetic element. The bouquet is good, but the palate even better. This is medium in weight, powerful, round, and very rich. Both tannin and alcohol come through, but not in an exaggerated way. There are deep brambly and black fruit (blackberry) flavors. The aftertaste is plush and tangy, with a fine velevety texture and a little hotness on the tail end.
This wine is still years away from its peak and if tasted blind I might have taken it for a 2009! An interesting discovery and an estate to watch.
2001 Ch. Chantegrive, Graves blanc, Cuvée Caroline
Chantegrive is one of the great success stories in Bordeaux, a huge 85-hectare estate (55 hectares of red wine grapes and 30 of white) in Podensac brought to prominence by the late Henri Lévêque, one of the leading brokers in Bordeaux. The white wine is evenly divided between Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. This 2001 won a gold medal at the Paris Agricultural Show. It has the color of an old Sauternes, more deep straw yellow than golden. The nose is grassy with some matchstick aromas. The wine had the characteristic lemony overtones of white Graves on the palate, but had become a little thin and acidic over the years. It was therefore enjoyable at table, but would have been better and fresher years ago.
2005 Ch. d’Escurac, Médoc cru bourgeois
This 22-hectare estate in Civrac, in the northern Médoc (50/50 Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) has the reputation of being a very reliable wine. I first heard of it when it won the Cru Bourgeois Cup in the 1990s. The 2005 looks older than its age. The nose is simple, but pleasant, with blueberry and chocolate aromas. It is also a little spirity. The wine is chewy, big, and assertive on the palate, with coarsely-textured tannin. The aftertaste is gummy, relatively short, and a little dry, showing evidence of oak and featuring a slightly alcoholic finish. A vinous, gutsy wine.