Remarkably situated along the Gironde River on the north shore of the Medoc, and impeccably run by Bernard Magrez, Les Grands Chênes shows the magical value quotient of the Medoc. A 50/40/10ish split between merlot and cab and cab franc, Les Grands Chenês comes by its polish honestly, being consulted by Michel Rolland. Winner of a Medaille D’or in 2011, that’s the gold, at the Concours General Agricole in Paris, LGC shows rich and dark fruit and opulent texture with fresh acids too, and value: a wine like this from Napa Valley would cost $50. Drinks beautifully now and will continue to evolve for 10 years, easily. Snare your non-Bordeaux drinking friends in your wine web with this one. 90 points. (14%)
2009 Chateau Les Grands Chênes
…loads of espresso roast, black chocolate, creme de cassis, forest floor and tobacco leaf in a full-bodied, opulent, and flamboyant style. Dense, rich and deep in fruit, it exhibits the plush, silky tannins…
Bob and I tasted 2010 Tour St. Bonnet in Bordeaux in January and looked at each other in amazement. Nothing new to B-21 though, this mightily valued Medoc wine, we have bought a number of vintages in the past and this is one of the top values of the vintage. Perhaps why Chateau Latour bullied them recently into dropping the article “La” preceding their name over a couple centuries previously? Anyhow, this is the real article, a wine exhibiting excellent structure and considerable brawn, authentic Bordeaux as it has tasted for many years. Half and half Cab and Merlot and the last 10% petit verdot, it is dark, dry, mineral and earthy with that classic cedar note. This a case for buying by the case, very high quality, affordable and classic. (14%) 90/100.
Now this was buried treasure – beautiful Haut-Medoc that was under wraps for ten years! …But I found it just in time. Ch. Lanessan’s 2001 is a gorgeous bottle you can drink now. Lanessan is a “constant overachiever” according to Parker, and I agree. Always a solid value but rarely available with such age and grown up character, especially in an overheated market where immature and awkward wines sell for twice the price and more. With years of bottle age this is a thrill. Never had a Bordeaux this old tasting so good for my price. Mature, supple and elegant with no jammy or sharp qualities. Red fruit in the middle with whiffs of roses and cinnamon and a very sleek texture. Bordeaux is not this good right out of the box. I found it after a long morning at our brokers on the old quais of Bordeaux. Tasted 60 bottles, left bank and right, most of them from ’08 and ’09, before I found this jewel. Next to the last! Lanessan is a proud old estate — goes back to 1793 – just south of Saint-Julien, cru Bordeaux Superieur, from a ridge of stout gravel in the Haut-Medoc. Lanessan takes good care of its vintages and these bottles came directly from the chateau’s cellar. The ’01 was a three star choice and one of the Best Wines of the Year for Decanter magazine when released and is still getting good marks. If you love old Bordeaux you have to have this, at a price you won’t find anywhere else.
2010 Solena Pinot Noir Grande Cuvee
Got very excited first finding Solena’s 2008 Grand Cuvee, and it takes a lot to excite a Burgundy freak with a U.S. Pinot. Happens most often for me in Oregon. Maybe because the vintages there are as dicey as they are in the Cote d’Or. Sure enough, the 2009 disappointed. Luckily I skipped it. Good thinking! Just about out of the ’08s (only have a few magnums left!), and along comes this gorgeous 2010. Lots of fruit with touches of licorice and cinnamon. Actually, I think the secret ingredient is that this young winery has quite a heritage with a French accent in the family. He’s from Bordeaux, she’s from Napa, but the fruit’s from Willamette. Remember their wine love story? For their wedding gift in 2000 Laurent Montalieu, who grew up in the Medoc and Guadeloupe, and Danielle Andrus, nee Pine Ridge, bought an 80-acre estate in Willamette as their wedding gift to each other. They set up their bridal registry at top vineyard nurseries and listed six clones of Pinot Noir vines as wedding gifts. It’s paying off big now. If you liked the ’08, you’re gonna love the 2010.