Château Les Grands Maréchaux 2009 (Côtes de Bordeaux, France)
Price Point: $20 – $22
Availability: 8 (but going FAST!)
Varietal(s): 84% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon
Weight: Medium to Full bodied
Professional Rating: 88-92 (50-100 scale)
My Rating: 17+ (1-20 scale)
What? Me rave about a French wine? Maybe something from the Languedoc, sure, but a Bordeaux? Never! Life Lesson #3487 – never say never! 2009 was an exceptional vintage in Bordeaux for a myriad of reasons and Robert Parker is calling it the best in 32 years. That’s something people! Robert Parker is a deity in Bordeaux. While those $500 bottles are nicely cellared and waiting for Godot, the Bordeaux blends from the Cotes de Bordeaux (or rather, the surrounding countryside that is not “top notch” as Thurston Howell III would say) are priced just right and drinking beautifully.
This blend, which relies heavily on the Merlot and uses the two Cabs for added structure and nose, is rich, unctuous, and ready to drink now through, maybe, 2014 or 2015. The color is a deep ruby red. The nose is full of licorice, violets and the herbal notes that the Cabernet Franc bring to the bottle. The minute it hits your mouth it is elegant, silky, full of dark jammy fruit, black cherries, cola and mulling spice but fresh and lively at the same time. It is definitely an food wine, not something to just sit around and sip. We paired it with a porterhouse steak with a red wine and shallot reduction and the de rigueur baked potato w/butter and sour cream. I was shaking the last bits out of the bottle … the finish on the wine was clean and the tannins were light but present, enough to hold up to a good cut of meat. This is an exquisite wine that is already a favorite. Our wine seller at Bellevue Wines actually opened a bottle for us to try a few weeks ago and sent us home with the bottle. We returned the next day and bought a case. It IS that good. Definitely decant it just to aerate it before serving.
For those that are not familiar with what makes a Bordeaux wine a Bordeaux wine, let me try to explain it as best I can. Unlike in the “new” world (the US, South America, Australia/NZ, South Africa, etc.) where wines are “usually” described by the varietal or majority of varietal grape in the bottle (e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio (ok, it applies to some of the old world, like Italy, as well), in much of France, Spain, Germany and Italy, wine is called by the region it is grown in and only certain grapes are allowed to be grown in that region. For example, in Burgundy, France, only Pinot Noir can be made into a Red Burgundy and only Chardonnay can be made into a White Burgundy (for the most part). This also applies to the most northern most region of Burgundy, the Champagne region, where only Pinot Noir & Chardonnay are allowed to be used in making true Champagne. In Bordeaux, there are three main red varietals that are principally used: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc. Sometimes, small amounts of other varietals such as Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère are allowed, but only Petit Verdot is really still used, and only in moderation. The latter two have moved to Argentina and Chile, respectively, where they are making wonderful varietal wines. Different regions of Bordeaux use different grapes as the main base, but it is almost always either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, with Cabernet Franc added in. The regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol are famous for their Merlot based wines with Cabernet Franc. This wine would be very close to a poor man’s version of one of those famous Pomerols like Châteax Pétrus or Châteax Le Pin.