Monday, October 17, 2005


Famous for Cabernet Sauvignon, nowhere in the world but Pauillac produces grapes of such grandeur. The soil in Pauillac is a heavy gravel, occurring naturally, but perfectly designed for grape growing. These wines are tannic and full-bodied. Because of the reputation for excellence, these wines demand a high pricetag; however, there are a few bargains available. Let's explore some excellent, but less famous, Chateaus.

Chateau Clerc Milon

Chateau Clerc Milon became another property of the famous Rothschilds in 1970. Upon acquisition, the family began immediately renovating the property to bring the vineyards and equipment up to date. Location is important in real estate and in winemaking, and this estate borders both the Mouton-Rothschild and the Lafite-Rothschild wine estates.

The Chateau Clerc-Milon has a high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon, making a more masculine wine with full body, and impressive ripeness and purity. Excellent vintages include 1985,1989 and the 1999. The 1985 is particularly excellent with hints of raspberry and black currant in the nose and on the palate.

Chateau Carruades Lafite

Chateau Carruades de Lafite is the second label of the reknowned wine maker, Lafite-Rothschild. The blend is made with 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. These wines have an amazing reputation for excellence. Chateau Carruades Lafite has a dark ruby color, and tones of violets and vanilla. Excellent vintages include 2001, 2002, and the 2003.

Chateau D'Armailhac

This is a classic Pauillic wine. Thanks to abundant proportions of merlot and cabernet franc in the blend, Chateau D'Armailhac has abundant black, cedary fruit and a voluptuous quality. With firm, supple tannins and good structure, this dry red is worth trying. Vintages of note include 2004, 2002, and 2001.

Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste

The history of Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste dates back as early as the mid 1700's. At that time, it was surrounded by just a few rows of vines. Today, 124 acres of estate are under vines, and the vineyard produces between 8,000 and 14,000 cases of fabulous Bordeaux Blend. Excellent examples of the variety include vintages from the years: 1996, 1982, and 2002. A particularly excellent vintage is the 2000. This wine possesses a deep garnet color, cedary nose, with blackcurrant and a fruit-driven palate. Age will only enhance the quality of this fine Bordeaux.

Chateau Forts de Latour

Chateau Forts de Latour was an actual castle, built to protect the Gironde Estuary from pirates. The original tower existed from the mid 1300's and no one is quite sure what happened to it. Nothing remains of that original construction, but they say that the tower of Saint Lambert, shown on the wine label, is built from the remnants of the medieval fortress. Wine production came to the Chateau Forts de Latour at the end of the 1600s.

In the mid 1960's the old estate began major renovations and restorations, replacing the old wooden vats with stainless steel and temperature controlled fermentation.

During the 1990's this wine has seen superlative vintages which are excellent examples of a fine Bordeaux. Full bodied and bold, the top vintages include 1990, 1996, 1998 and 1999.

Chateau Duhart Milon

Reasonably affordable, the Chateau Duhart Milon is
reminiscent of the Lafite-Rothschild vintages. The Rothschild family purchased the Duhart Milon property in 1962 and began a major construction project that involved draining, uprooting and replanting the vines, as well as enlarging the property and replacing outdated equipment. Chateau Duhart-Milon is characterized by a firm taste, fine color and strong personality. Excellent vintages include 1999, 2000, and 2001.

Chateau Lynch Bages

Chateau Lynch Bages
has performed consistently well over the last two decades. The basic wine is tannic, masculine with blackcurrant, tobacco and pencil-lead notes on the palate. 1990 was a particularly good vintage with firm tannins, a deep color and exceptional balance. The 2004 vintage has a well defined nose, and is a very traditional, rustic style. Finally, the 2000 vintage is distinguished by a ripe chewy finish and nose of blackberry and cassis. On the finish you will enjoy a bit of cedar and dark chocolate. Definitely a grouping of complex, multidimensional wines.

Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron

An impressive location, this chateau is absolutely gorgeous to see. It tends to be called "the fairest of them all" and really looks like a fairy tale castle. Today, Pichon Longueville Baron is a powerful tannic wine, full bodied, with great finesse and elegance. Long on the palate this deep crimson wine is noteworthy. Excellent vintages include 2001, 2000, and 1998.

Chateau Pichon Longeuville Comtesse de Lalande

The vineyards of the Chateau Pichon Longeuville Comtesse De Lalande carry grape varieties of 35% merlot, 45% cabernet sauvignon, 12% cabernet franc and a significant 12% petit verdot. With such a high proportion of merlot, the wine tends to be more corpulent and voluptuous in texture.

Awarded the Best of Wine tourism international trophy in the category of art and culture, this wine is notable for a full body, and memorable bouquet. Notable vintages include 2000, 2001, and 1996.

Chateau Pontet Canet

This neighboring vineyard of the Chateau Mouton-Rothschild grows 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. Chateau Pontet Canet creates a wine with many layers and dimension. The best available vintages include the 2003 with its austere nose and well balanced palate. Layers of tobacco with fruit this tannic wine performs well. The 2002 vintage is a deep purple color with great purity. Quite toasty and rounded, this full bodied wine will not disappoint. Finally, the 2000 has a terrific cranberry finish and is an easy wine with an elegant, palate. It is sure to please.