Vol 3 No 15 Fire post mortem and $3,000 for a bottle of champagne???

I was surprised and glad that so many tasting rooms have opened in Napa Valley this soon after the fire. Most if not all, are donating the fees to relief agencies. That is encouraging. I wasn’t sure at first about the re-openings but speaking with friends in the wine business there, they are encouraged to see the wineries coming together along with local support. They realize they need to boost the economy by bringing the tourist back, especially for those who work in the valley. Note also that the wineries are a soft touch for charities and are hit up all the time for donations, which they freely give.

It isn’t pretty like last Spring when I was there, and Sonoma County is in much worse shape. I am not in touch with any of the wineries in the Sonoma/Santa Rosa area, but everyone is saddened at the loss of life and homes in this multi-county tragedy. Let’s not forget Mendocino County where in the north they had destructive fires too.

One thing you might not have considered is marijuana growers, who are very active in Mendocino County…this time legally as they prepare for the arrival of the date of legalization of recreational marijuana in California. Due to the conflict with federal law, they have no insurance and are a cash basis as they can’t get credit either. They had harvested some the marijuana, much of which was destroyed by the fires along with warehouses. Also, about 50% remains in the fields which may be affected like wines with smoke taint. I mention the pot growers only as another victim of the fires, not as an endorsement…you decide.

If you watched finish of the United States Grand Prix from Austin, Texas, Sunday, you may have noticed the traditional champagne ‘brawl’ with the winner and other two top finishers. When I saw the three drivers shaking and spraying the bottles I noticed that all the jeroboams were lavender in collar and looked metallic. I freeze-framed it to see the name on the bottle but instead of the usual prestige house there was only one word on the bottle: CARBON, written in bold letters lengthwise on the bottle…huh???

Have any of you ever heard of CARBON?  Most likely not, but at $3,000 a bottle perhaps you should! Furthermore if you want to buy one (suit yourself, not me), you probably have to go to St. Tropez as it isn’t sold in the U.S. and is very limited production.

Is it that good? Uh…in a word: no. Not saying it isn’t ‘good’, just that it isn’t that good. So how do they get $3,000 for a bottle of it? Hey, how do lots of luxury goods go for what they do? Because the wealthy can afford them and that, folks, is status.

How did the custom of spraying the crowd come about. After winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1996, driver Jo Siffert accidentally sprayed the crowd with his magnum bottle of Moët Chandon Brut. The following year, American Dan Gurney did the same and a tradition was born, a waste of good champagne if you ask TB, and messy too! Sacre Bleu!

In 2000, G.H. Mumm replaced Moët and the magnum was upgraded to a jeroboam so more people could be sprayed. They remained a Formula I sponsor until 2015 when Chandon – yes, the California ‘sparkler’ replaced them. Then in July of this year, CARBON replaced them as an official sponsor.

Now you know, but why a $3,000 bottle of champagne? Well, here’s the thing, you can buy Cuvée Carbon 2002 vintage champagne (same as used in the Ultra bottle), in a 1.5 litre bottle (jeroboam) for $990 from Amazon Wine Store* but that is in a standard champagne bottle that holds six bottles ($165 each). Actually, a 750 ml bottle will cost you about $80, the difference due to the cost of the bottle which in large format sizes has enormous pressure.

The difference? The company has created a process that covers the entire bottle in carbon creating the metallic look and it is expensive and very labor intensive. So if you, my friends, want to pay 3 times the price of a regular jeroboam, be my guest. That is also six time the cost of a standard bottle of CARBON. TB wonders if the drivers get to  keep the bottle? Most likely, yes. After all it only costs $9,000 to give them the bottles each race.

To TB, this is the same as the way people pay outrageous prices for Cognac in Baccarat crystal, and other prestige bottlings of alcohol products. If you have the money and you want it…go for it, but TB will take the normal bottling of the same product every time (he won’t however be buying any of the ‘gimmicky’ CARBON. C’est la vie!

That’s it for now…TB with the champagne love but cava budget is done for today.

TB

(c) Copyright, traderbillonwine.com 2017

*Note: Amazon is going out of the wine business at the end of the year due to their ownership of Whole Foods Markets. Reportedly, there are also licensing problems. Ouch!

 

 

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Vol 3 No 14 what to do with your best wines?

(Note: TB is not being insensitive writing this during the horrible conflagration in Northern California’s wine country, but needed to get his mind off it for a little while.)

When one starts collecting wine it soon becomes apparent that the $30 bottle of wine you purchased is now a $60 or $80 bottle is too good to drink for just any dinner, so what do you do as the other bottles you bought start accumulating.

One thing you can do of course is sell them at auction. I did this with some wines years ago that had become simply too valuable to drink. Like my ’82 Bordeaux’s I bought as futures…the vintage that destroyed William Finnegan’s reputation among his subscribers and built Robert Parker’s. Parker being the only wine writer to praise the vintage. So I bought a mixed case…average price $30. I tried a few over the years but wasn’t that impressed, nor was a friend who had the same feeling.

I held them along with many other wines, including some I had purchased at auction. Then, following the millennial, anything with a 19xx vintage shot to the moon, Alice, the moon. So I made a list and took it to Butterfields in San Francisco which had recently merged with Christy’s. They eagerly accepted the wines and I attended the auction with a friend. It was live and telephonic and we were blown away at the prices – especially for ones we could find at a local wine merchant for much less. While I walked away with over $6,000, and a huge profit, I decided there would never be an opportunity like that again for me, and altered my buying habits to what TB liked, not what Parker or anyone else liked that I was supposed to love.

Here are some things I have tried…some successful, some not so much:

  1. Bring out a bottle at a dinner you are hosting. The problem with this is that if you didn’t plan it for the main wine, it will go largely unnoticed. I wasted a lot of bottles that way until I figured it out: ideas pop up after drinking and when followed through seem to fizzle. What did that wine taste like anyway?
  2. Donate it to a charity auction. Not such a good idea with pricey wines as frequently they will be underbid (once I bought back my own wine because the bid price was so low and it was a good wine). Make charitable donations of wines currently available.
  3. Say what the hell and sometime when you are in a really good mood, simply bring one up…but be sure to not make the mistakes in number one above.
  4. Keep them for show…dazzle people with your cellar. Yawn! I have found people are more impressed with the size of the cellar than what it actually contains.
  5. Find a special occasion and make it about the wine…not literally, but you can use it to enhance the event.

Focusing on that last suggestion, we recently visited two couples in Chicago. One lived there part time and we were old friends and the other couple flew out from California. The event was the 70th birthday of one of the friends. A perfect chance to showcase some wines, since they were coming from out of state by air and we were driving.

So…what did I bring for this four day event? First, we had other wines so I didn’t want to overdo it…just be able to have some great wines together.

Day 1: Quinta do Bonfim, Portugal, Dao. This company makes all the great Ports and is located up the Douro in Pinhao. This was not an expensive wine but like most Portuguese wines hard to find in the States. Everyone loved it

Day 2: For our traditional ‘picnique’ dinner I brought a bottle of Clos de l’Obac’s 2006 Miserere. A beautiful Priorat red that is really complex. This is from the same winery that I attended the 25 year vertical in Chicago last March See Vol. 3, No 3.

Day 3: For cocktail hour we had Castello del Volpaia, Chianti Classico, 2012. If you haven’t had this beautiful Chianti, look for it…years ago I stayed at the Castello in one of their beautiful rooms overlooking the vineyards.

Day 4: Also for cocktails, Verdad Tempranillo 2013. This wine is made by Luisa Sawyer Lindquist, wife of Bob Lindquist of Qupe wines. It is an extraordinary example of a tempranillo and shows that it can be made in the Central Coast…elegantly.

Day 5: For the birthday dinner we went to The Barn in Evanston, where we were staying. They have an excellent wine list but I knew this wine would not be on it and was dying to see how it held up over the years. It was a Leonetti Merlot 2000, and when the somme saw it he was dazzled. I told him to save a glass for himself and he was so thrilled he waived the corkage fee. We also had a Black Slate Priorat for a second wine and it was very good. Note that before I had commented on the etiquette of bringing your own wine. First, make sure you can and, second, make sure it is not on their wine list of of such an early vintage that even if they have the label they won’t have it. Make the somme part of the group by letting him/her enjoy and comment on the wine. See also Vol 2 No 25 for TB’s Ten Commandments of Wine.

There you have it, TB’s best suggestion for what to do with your best wines…enjoy them with good friends!

Best,

TB

(c) Copyright 2017, traderbillonwine.com

Vol 3 No 13…an American tragedy…

(It has been over a month since the last post…mea culpa…partly this was due to the hurricanes and the destruction they brought that put TB in a funk. Will try to be more prompt and get back to the ‘every other week’ pace. TB)

TB doesn’t want to overemphasize the disaster in Napa and Sonoma counties, but it is a big deal, perhaps second only to Houston in damage, much of which cannot be measured.

First, having lived in the Bay Area for 29 years before moving to Minnesota seven years ago, I have visited scores of wineries and gotten to know many in the wine industry. My book project on the passion these people have for what they do, brings to light their hard work…and let’s not romanticize it: it’s farming (don’t take TB’s word for it, Joe Heitz was the one who said it to TB thirty years ago)!

Many of them came from the Midwest and were farmers, others, as my friend Lane Tanner puts it: “were bitten by the bug and when that happens you’re done.”

As much damage was done to the vines, wineries, and their homes, the growth in population, fueled by both the tourist industry where many are employed, and a place where retirees see an Eden to spend their twilight years was a key factor in the loss of homes and lives, especially in Sonoma County in and around Santa Rosa.

There is much confusion due to the massive size of these fires. For instance, they refer to the one with the huge perimeter that has destroyed much of Santa Rosa as the ‘Tubbs Fire”…huh? Aren’t they talking about the wrong fire? Actually, no. The Tubbs fire stretches from Tubbs Lane just to the north of Calistoga, over the Napa range along the Petrified Forest Highway and then down to Santa Rosa. That fire is bigger in area than all other fires in the state, which includes the Orange County fire combined!

I am grateful that none of the properties owned by friends were affected, but then, it isn’t over yet. Nearly 30 are known dead, and over 60 still missing (owing to the destruction of landmark hotels in Santa Rosa and since those were tourists, likely most, if not all scattered but there are still those who were trapped in their homes.

The last fire in the Santa Rosa area was in 1964, and note that there were no fatalities…zero! So you can see the impact of growth. Of course the high winds, with gusts to 70 mph were a major cause of dissemination. Firefighters say that embers were blown ahead of the fire for one to three miles…making it impossible to control or predict where it would strike.

Consider California coming off a 500 year drought! Then the rains of early this year caused the valleys and hillsides (I drove from Orange County to Seattle in mid-February), to be the most beautiful I have ever seen them…and now this.

While it was green and beautiful, it came at the expense of mudslides, especially in the Santa Cruz area where you had to zigzag on surface streets to get from US 101 to Santa Cruz since the main (and only) highway connecting the two was inundated in a mudslide that took more than a month to recover from. Also, there are some great vineyards and wineries stretching from Santa Barbara to Paso Robles. North of there, in the flat between the coastal range and the Carrizo plain to the east, the vineyards are flat and looked like a swamp. While this concerned me, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon noted that before budbreak it isn’t problematic. Still, I can’t help but think the wines from the area north of Paso to Greenfield, which is solid vineyards, would not be producing very good wine. For 2017,wines you are going to have to be very careful, and might want to pay attention to ratings before you buy (can’t believe I just wrote that!). Besides the rains, many areas suffered early frosts, then came the record-breaking heat, most notably in Napa Valley.

Twelve days above 100 degrees with no cooling at night, as Napa Valley traps in the heat, normally a good thing, while to the west and atop Howell Mountain there was some relief. Look for wines from there this vintage. Smoke taint is certainly a risk but over 90% of the grapes had been picked…the holdouts being some of the big cabs and zins, so you will have to be careful with these. In addition, to the record number of days, the highest temperature recorded was 115 degrees! Not good for wine…especially whites, pinot noir and merlot which are cooler climate grapes.

The combination of rain making the valley lush, then frosts, then the searing heat which dried out all that new greenery as well as the accumulated dead brush from the drought, was a prescription for disaster.

Here is another thing I bet you didn’t think of: with a lot of grapes in fermentation, they need to be tended to daily. Judd Finkelstein, whose father was a widely respected winemaker at Whitehall Lane, and owner of Judd’s Hill Winery, just off the Silverado Trail to the west of the Atlas Peak burn, had no damage but his winemaker had to be escorted in to tend to the fermenting wine, called my attention to this in an email to friends of the winery. How much wine that is in inaccessible areas will be lost? A pity.

While California took the brunt of it, Oregon and Washington were also impacted with fires. Note that all these fires are occurring at a time that fire crews are usually disbanding. This was particularly true in Washington where the largest burn was caused by a teenager setting off fireworks in the forest! It is likely that some of the California fires were due to human negligence, however the high winds toppled trees causing power lines to collapse setting off several fires.

Hopefully, while you are sipping your wine you will think of the wine people and also of those who lived nearby and are now homeless.

Lastly, a political statement, but one that shouldn’t be: there can be no doubt about climate change. First, we had 95% or more of the scientific community signing off on it, with most (all?) of the dissenters being shills for the energy industry and others. This is not from me but a friend with the National Academy of Sciences and of Engineering. Nothing new here…he told me this a few years ago.

Meanwhile, Trump and Co., including Secretary of State Tillerson (who, by the way was made a member of the National Academy of Engineering about five years ago for his work on fossil fuels), who while CEO of EXXON denounced climate change along with the rest of his company, despite funding many scientific studies which proved just the opposite. When challenged on this the company released all internal communications (what the hell were they thinking?), and the proof was shown that while they were denouncing it, the very studies they funded showed it to be real.

TB doesn’t know whether you believe in climate change, but if you don’t, and with the leadership (sic) of Trump, we do nothing, what will you tell your grandchildren when they bear the consequences of our inaction? Good luck on that one! I would like to add the climate change in Europe where Burgundy and Bordeaux had a huge disaster of a harvest. One winemaker in St. Estephe has predicted that in ten years there will be no more merlot!

A friend told me he was going to the wine country next week! I said, “still?” He said he was and going to both Napa and Sonoma. I tried to talk him out of it, and may have, saying they don’t need tourists there now. I added that IF he is still going he should focus on the Dry Creek and the Alexander Valley, both just out of Healdsburg and north of the fires, and further north the Anderson Valley, all of which produce some great wines.

Condolences to those who have lost their homes, or have friends or relatives that have had their lives torn apart by this catastrophe…also to the hurricane victims who continue to suffer.

Trader Bill

(c) traderbillonwine.com

 

 

 

Vol 3 No 12…there is no global warming, got it? …and no climate change…sheesh!

Pardon, TB’s tongue-in-cheek slug for this blog, but he has had it with the naysayers. This was prompted by Hurricane Harvey but it goes deeper than that…much deeper.

First, the scientists who noted the rapid rise (not to the naked eye) in global temperatures, saw a problem: never in recorded history had the temperatures risen that rapidly and 2016 was the hottest year ever – globally! Then came the naysayers…mainly pseudo-scientists and as my good friend who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the prestigious National Academy of Engineering.

Years ago I asked him about climate change and he said that the only scientists that didn’t believe it was occurring were shills for the energy industry…the same ones who said smoking wasn’t bad for your health. I believe we wouldn’t have so many who disagree if it hadn’t been Al Gore who created the documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

So TB is always asking winemakers if it is occurring and not one…zero, zip, zilch…has refuted it. Now remember, these guys, like all farmers, keep records of daily temperatures, highs, lows, frosts, freezes, heat waves, rain…you name it…so when they say it is happening…trust me, it’s happening!

Now let’s go back to Katrina: made landfall August 29th, 2005 in New Orleans…almost exactly twelve years ago. Scientists noting the ice melting at the poles (note the recent break-off in Antarctica that is bigger than Manhattan!), predicted that rising sea temperatures…remember we began losing the ozone layer decades ago and that protected the earth from high temperatures…that rising water temp in the Caribbean would create more intense hurricanes…of course they were scoffed at by people like Sarah Palin and Donald Trump and joined by the conservatives of today who make the Reagan Republicans look like liberals. (Interesting that after Katrina the evangelicals were saying it was because God had brought this on them due to their morals…have you heard a single comment like this about Harvey? Perhaps God’s aim was a wee bit off…or was he punishing the big oil companies headquartered in Houston?…just askin’…)

In 2016, we were on a trip to Spain and Portugal followed by a wine cruise of southern and eastern Spain. I wanted to go to Madeira (which I highly recommend…an incredibly beautiful island), so while we were in Lisbon we took a day trip there. On the plane, out of boredom I was thumbing my way through EasyJet’s Traveller, inflight magazine (April 2016) and ran across this article: Can Bordeaux Survive the 21st Century? Obviously it caught my eye: “Last summer (2015) ,was the second hottest on record in France. If temperatures continue to rise, the nation’s most famous wine-producing region could be in serious trouble.” Aha, you say…Al Gore again…’fraid not, skeptics. The story was an interview with Arnaud Lasisz, assistant winemaker at Château Pape Clement, which dates back to 1252 and is a grands cru Bordeaux. The blend there is 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. 60% of the left bank vines – all of the original 1855 classification chateaus are located here – are Merlot…a grape that cannot tolerate intense heat.

“Within 20 or 30 years, Merlot will ripen in August (as opposed to late September or early October,” according to Dr. Kees van Leeuvwen, of the National School for Agricultural Sciences in Utrecht, “that will clearly compromise the quality of the wines, because they will lack freshness and have too much alcohol.”

So…what to do? In the nearby Médoc, they have planted 52 alternative varieties of vines to see how they cope with the higher temperatures. They are also abandoning tractors and replacing them with Breton plough horses at some of the chateaux in order to reduce the carbon footprint and within ten years will be biodynamic. Believe it or not, a three-quarter ton plough horse leaves less of a footprint than a tractor.

Now that TB has established the reason global warming is in this blog, let’s look at some of the effects and some of the bad players. First, Harvey occurred at a time where the sea temperature was six degrees above average – SIX! This is what scientists warned about and it is coming to pass. Some will argue that the 900 year drought in California followed by massive rains this year was just a fluke…or the increase in intensity and number of tornadoes…or the increases in flooding in low lying areas of the southeastern states. Let them…they are simply wrong. As stated earlier it is not in the interests of the petroleum companies to admit to global warming. Just this week a report was written that Exxon Mobil (you do recall the Exxon Valdez, right?), had been privately funding research while publicly denying climate change. Why? Because the cause of it is the rapid increase in man made carbon emissions from ….fossil fuels! In an act of Chutzpah, they took their denials to a new level: they challenged researchers to look at all their internal memorandums and the studies and see for themselves…bad move, because they were taken up on it and oh-oh…they lied…through their teeth for years. In May, the company agreed to activists to reconsider the effects of climate change on their assets…and a class-action lawsuit has been filed charging them with overvaluing their reserves in light of the problem. TB wonders if anyone told Rex Tillerson about this??? Naw…he knew nothing.

Looking around, sparkling wine grapes were harvested in early August in California, earliest on record, Burgundy had horrible hailstorms and weather, Italy has its worst drought on record and the smallest harvest in decades, Oregon and Washington are suffering from record high temperatures with effect on grapes uncertain.

Honk if you believe there is climate change, global warming, whatever you want to call it, and if you don’t, ask yourself this: what are you going to tell your grandchildren, when they ask why everything is dying?

It’s a great life if you don’t weaken…

TB

©2017, traderbillonwine.com

 

Vol 3 No 11 The Best Wine in the World!!!

Let’s face it there is way too much wine in the world…way too much to consume and consumption is declining in Europe due to driving laws, flat in U.S. being again replaced by beer…due to those new craft breweries not Bud or PBR.

The wine industry too follows fads: who can forget the Sideways effect on Pinot Noir and Merlot – both on demand (price) and store placement (Merlot went from eye level to the bottom shelf, replaced by Pinot Noir…and not all of it good…as was the majority of Merlot). Of course there is the rating ‘fad’ (?), such as this scenario:

Guy in tasting room: This wine is awful!

Salesperson: Really??? Parker gave it a 90!

Guy: I’ll take two cases!

You laugh but that is what happens. As TB has stressed here many times: you are your own best critic! …and guess what? That guy will probably serve it at a dinner to his friends, and guess what? Most of them won’t like it! TRUST YOUR PALETTE, it is the best wine critic in the world…for you…and will likely be in line with most people.

Most wine is drunk within hours of being purchased…not even long enough for the wine to get rested and refreshed, especially if it is a red! How about laying it down for a week or two (at least), oh, and if you can pace yourself, when you serve it, keep a little to try the next night…most likely it will taste better if it is good wine! Far too many times I have loved a wine then found out it was only going to get better…patience is a good thing, especially with wine.

There is a wine blog: thewinegourd

You should do yourself a favor and check it out. Pretty interesting and sensible: unless you KNOW what a wine critic looks for in a wine (i.e. Parker and high tannins), and that meshes with what you like, look for tasting ratings of groups. As Wine Gourd shows graphically, you want the one that more tasters like…if you want to please the most people at say a dinner you are hosting (also note: just because you bring a bottle of wine to a dinner, unless requested that is up to the host…in other words it is simply a gift), go for the broad ratings. Here is an excerpt of a letter to a local wine maker I wrote to today on the subject:

As a winemaker you want to appeal to the broadest base of buyers for two reasons: one you want the buyer to like it; secondly, when that person pours it you want the majority of those at the table to like it.
When I was a wine snob I bought Parker 90+ wines until I realized I didn’t like these high tannin monsters that you have to hold decades to enjoy, and noted guests reactions and wine left in glasses to learn the lesson. Also, the vast majority of wines, sadly, are drunk within a week of purchase which fails to allow the wines to develop or even recover from their journey.
I see Parker as a paradox: he improved the quality of wines globally; he has contributed to the homogenization of wines trying to weed out terroir which I firmly believe in…as does my friend, Randall Grahm and other Rhone Rangers.
I also subscribe to Mike Veseth’s Wine Economist blog. If not familiar, Mike saw Sideways and was shocked to see the effect on Pinot Noir and Merlot prices and placement on shelves. You might want to look at back issues of The Wine Gourd fro further study.
This winemaker, discussed in an earlier post, won two golds in their respective classes at the San Francisco Chronicle’s Wine Tasting in January. No mean feat! As mentioned in the post (Vol. 3 No 9), there were 60 – count them sixty – judges, meaning these wines appealed to the broadest range of wine professionals.
By the way, both of those wines were in the $25 class…so you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for quality.
Twenty-eight years ago TB read a book that changed his outlook on wine, Kermit Lynch’s Adventures on the Wine Route…kind of a bible for Rhone Ranger, Burgundy, and Loire oenophiles. Couldn’t put my hands on it the other day and was angry with myself since it changed my view of wine and introduced me to so many wines I have come to enjoy over the years (decades?). So I went on Amazon and lo and behold there is a 25th Anniversary Edition, published in 2013, and I bought it in hardbound edition for less than the original list price too. Here are three things he did and didn’t do that make this edition the one to buy:
1. He added an epilogue rather than make changes to the original text…it is relatively short if you already read the first edition,
2. He tells what happened to some of the personalities in the first edition,
3. He lists the 25 favorite wines he has ever tasted, including the vintage (i.e a 1929 Chateau Y’Quem.
That’s all for today, folks…live, love, enjoy good wine…life is too short to drink plonk.
TB
©2017, traderbillonwine.com

Vol 3 No 10 Chateau Belle-Vue revisited

I originally wrote about this wonderful Lebanese winery that is doing everything right, a year ago. You might want to look to Vol. 2 No 7 because it is worth the effort. To recap this is a small production winery located in the mountains east of Beirut, in a small town Naji Boutros grew up in. After coming to the U.S. to attend Notre Dame (see the post for the details), he met his wife Jill there. After a successful career as an investment banker in London, he returned home to try to improve life for the people of his small town and make great wines. Unlike many newly-wealthy people now ‘investing’ in wineries, theirs is not to make a profit but to promote their wines and they have succeeded in causing more than a dozen new wineries to open. The original Lebanese wineries were in the Bekaa Valley such as Chateu Mazur, which has been there much longer.

The beautiful thing about Belle-Vue’s location (again see the post for the details of the name, etc.), is it is near Beirut, has a wonderful lodge and restaurant and has an ideal setting and soils to produce award-winning wines. Their three main grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and an incredible Syrah! They produce a small amount of other wines but those are served in the restaurant and not exported.

Here are the two available in the U.S:

Chateau Belle-Vue La Renaissance. Note that the current release is their 2009, a Left-Bank blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It has medium tannins and will be long-lived. I previously had the 2007 and it is nowhere near its peak.

For the first time Le Chateau has been offered in the U.S. This 2009 is much more forward and filled with lush fruit. Bordeaux? Rhone? No, a Rhodeaux! Okay, TB coined the name because it is an unusual blend of Cabernet Franc, SYRAH, and Merlot. Huh? How did they come up with this? Barrel sampling and everytime these three grapes blended the best so they decide to be somewhat ‘Rhone Ranger’s of Lebanon’, and the result is stunning. I love this wine and the price of around $59 may sound high but consider their production is very limited…how limited? It is measured in thousands of bottles…bottles not cases!

I bought it at the Wine Republic in Excelsior, MN, but it is available in other states too. As the saying goes…try it, you’ll like it! I did!

Au revoir for now…

TB ©copyright 2017 traderbillonwine.com