Monday, October 17, 2005

Haut Medoc

Haut Medoc wine is one of the most prized of the Bordeaux regions, lying northwest of the city of Bordeaux. The countryside was actually a fairly useless marshy area until the 1600s when it was drained. Now, it is well known for its amazing vineyards and terrific selection of Bordeaux Blends.

Haut Medoc is known for having a rather gravelly soil, but wine enthusiasts tend to believe it is the quality of the soil that gives such outstanding flavor to the wines. Perhaps the most famous of Haut Medoc vineyards is the Chateau Lafite, although many lovely vineyards dot the countryside, as wine production is the main industry that supports this region. An interesting tidbit for those who choose to visit the region, is that the wines become lighter as you travel south in the Haut Medoc area. Keep this in mind as you plan your visit.

When choosing wines of the Haut-Medoc region, pay attention to the label. In general, the wines labeled Haut-Medoc are superior to those simply labeled Medoc. The main grapes used in this region are Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. You will find less usage of Petite Verdot and Malbex, although they do occur in the region.

Chateau Bernadotte

These Bordeauxs possess a solid tannic structure and rich color. Full bodied, but delicate in flavor, these wines are charming and robust. Comprised of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, and 2% petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, Chateau Bernadotte is pleasant for early drinking. It has a long and delicate finish. Recommended vintages include 2000, 1999 and 1997.

Chateau Cantemerle

This estate dates back to the 14th century, but the wine making facilities are completely new due to extensive renovation and new plantings. Beginning with the 1981 vintage, the style on Chateau Cantemerle changed considerably. The wine color itself was darkened, resulting in an extra richness and measure of fruit. Vintages of interest include 1981, 1996, 1997 and 2001. The quality of this wine is excellent.

Chateau Sociando Mallet

Vintages from 1996, 1998 and 2000 are really excellent representations from the Chateau Sociando Mallet. This winery has been overlooked in the wine world until recently, and has really earned an excellent reputation. Sociando Mallet is a bold, tannic Bordeaux. Spicy with a toasty finish, this wine receives excellent marks.

Chateau La Lagune

With consistent quality and dense nose packed with black earthy fruits, the wines from Chateau Lagune often require aging for at least 5 years. This time allows the oaken tones to be fully integrated into the flavor of the wine. With a deep garnet color, this is a straightforward wine expressing fruitiness and a medium body. Excellent vintages include 2002, 2001 and 1998.

Chateau Larose Trintaudon

Since 1965 and the acquisition of the Chateau Larose Trintaudon by the Forner Brothers, the quality of the wine produced in this Haut Medoc vineyard has improved dramatically. Chateau Larose Trintaudon is a medium bodied, dry, an excellent blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes, this deep red, has an excellent currant and berry character. More recent vintages are the best representations of this wine. Try the 2000, 1999 and 1990 vintages.

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are one of the most famous red wine grapes, and most widely planted. Indigenous to the Haut Medoc region, these grapes thrive in the gravel rich soil. Together with Merlot, these grapes form the backbone of good Haut Medoc Bordeaux Blends. They are distinguished by a touch of vanilla oak, rich mixture of cassis, mint and eucalyptus, They are medium bodied, complex wines that reach a wide range of audiences and tastes. Excellent with all kinds of meats, these wines are worthy of your table.