This is the second article in a series of posts that are chronicling a trip that I was supposed to be on this week….
As I mentioned last week, my buddy Christophe Bristiel, the export manager for Château la Nerthe (one of the oldest producers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape) is currently cycling across the South of France, visiting all the wineries owned by the Richard Family. Of course, I would have been there with him were it not for Washington’s completely incompetent response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(That last comment was not intended as a political statement but rather as a fact. Most of the countries in the world have banned Americans from entering. Even Canada, for goodness sake. Canada.)
Last week, Christophe started his epic 1200 kilometer ride in the Beaujolais region of France where the Richard Family owns two estates: Château des Tours and Château de Corcelles, both located in Brouilly.
In this first part of the conversation, Christophe recounts his Trek across the Massive Centrale in the South of France:
Then we delve into the first wine, the 2018 Château Gantonnet Blanc:
2018 Château Gantonnet Blanc, Bordeaux, France: Retail $15. 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Muscadelle, 20% Sémillon. I “shared” this wine with my buddy Christophe as he was finishing up his bike trip across the South of France visiting all of the estates owned by the Richard Family. A trip in which I was supposed to partake. But thanks to our inept handling of the pandemic… As I said to Christophe during our chat, white Bordeaux is often overlooked in the U.S. That is too bad, in my opinion, as there are good values to be had. This Gantonnet Blanc is clean, precise, fruity, aromatic, and perfectly delightful. Sure, it likely will not cause an epiphany or even a revelation, but I do not need one of those on a Tuesday, particularly as I look at Christophe’s amazing pictures and videos wondering what could have been. What this is, is a fine accompaniment to my bucketful of regret. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
In the next section of the talk, we move on to the Château Gantonnet Rouge and touch on the effects of climate change:
2016 Château Gantonnet Rouge, Bordeaux, France: Retail $16.70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc. This was another wine that I was supposed to taste in person, in the winery, after a two-week bike trek across the South of France. Thanks to this country’s unbelievably inept response to the virus, I was relegated to tasting this remotely, via Zoom, with my would-be cycling buddy Christophe. While this will likely never be confused with a First Growth Bordeaux, it is perfectly delightful: good fruit, hints of spice and oak, plenty of mouth-watering acidity, mostly integrated tannins, and wonderful balance. A wonderful quaff regardless of the price. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
Before moving on to the third wine, we have a brief discussion of the rosé phenomenon and the COVID effect on wine producers in France:
Finally, we finish with the 2016 Chapelle de Barbe and discuss a few of the Bordeaux satellite appellations, and briefly touch on another wine from the Richard Family that will be available soon in the U.S., Château Victoria, a Cru Bourgeois on the Left Bank:
2016 Chapelle de Barbe, Bordeaux Supérieur, France: Retail $18. 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Another wine from the Richard Family portfolio, and another winner. Dark, opaque in the glass, with dark berry fruit, black pepper, spice, a gaminess, and hints of oak and anise on the nose. Fruity on the palate. In fact, so fruity that most would assume (I venture) that this is not a Bordeaux. But harbor no illusions, this is not a fruity “I-wanna-be-a-new-world” Bordeaux. No, it *is* fruity, but there is also restraint (if that is possible), hints of earthiness, and a decided tartness. Look, there are a TON of Bordeaux wines out there. Some at this pricepoint are complete, well, doo-doo. Not here, this is a fairly remarkable wine regardless of price. Do yourself a favor: buy a case. Drink a third by the end of the year, another third by the end of 2021, and the remaining four bottles at some point after that. You can thank me at your leisure. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.