Despagne family owns a hand-full of estates in Bordeaux and their wines have
been gaining great attention from the French wine media.
This estate is located in Naujan-et-Postiac, pretty close to Libourne.
We have a fabulous Sauvignon Blanc from Despagne, along with his
"reserve" bottling of red, called Cuvée Passion.
Recently arrived is the 2010 "regular bottling," a wine
which offers remarkable depth and complexity for $13.99. (It's
labeled as 'Reserve,' even though it's their entry level wine.)
If you're a
Bordeaux fancier, I can't think of a better value for everyday
drinking. This wine is predominantly Merlot, but has plenty of dark
fruit notes and a mild cedar and sandalwood quality on the nose. The
palate is amazingly complete for a fourteen-buck red.
Pair this with a grilled steak or lamb...
The cellar at Tour de Mirambeau.
Previous vintages have gotten great accolades in the Guide Hachette and the wine is deserving of
praise. About 70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon (40 year old vines),
the 2010 Cuvee Passion (used to be labeled "Grand Vin" until
recently) shows a lovely black fruit fragrance, a touch of an herbal note and
some cedary, woodsy notes from its maturation in oak. Though it will
certainly soften with additional bottle aging, this is perfectly drinkable
right now, especially with a grilled steak or rack of lamb.
You'll find the wine to be bigger and flashier than the 2008 and 2007
which were both quite good. It is a wine which doesn't require
cellaring and it's quite showy right now, especially with good vittles.
A side note: Some producers from Europe were visiting and they
had some Bordeaux wines which struck me as over-priced. I mentioned
we liked the wines from the Despagne family and they nodded, agreeing the
wines are good. Since they arrive directly, the prices are
especially reasonable, so these people knew they'd been "aced"
out in terms of quality and value.
If you have a look at the map posted above this entry, you'll notice the
Cotes de Bourg region just across the river from the Medoc, nearly directly
across the water from Margaux.
This is where you'll find some modestly-priced Bordeaux and it's only, in
our view, fairly recently that we're finding wines of interest there.
Sure, the Cotes de Bourg area claims to have had vineyards planted there for
something like 1800 years, but it's only in the year 2010 that we at Weimax
have found something worth recommending to customers.
Maybe we're a bit slow to notice?
The Chateau Falfas estate takes its name from a fellow who was the head of
a local parliament back in the late 1600s. Today it's owned by
Veronique Cochran, whose husband John, an American gentleman, recently
passed away. Her father was a major pioneer in biodynamic farming
practices and the Falfas vineyards have been farmed biodynamically since
The 20 hectare estate is planted with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a small
portion of Malbec, or Cot, as the locals know it. We tasted three
decidedly different wines from this estate and found all of them to be quite
good and were smitten by their top, deluxe bottling.
It's called "Le Chevalier" and this is predominantly Cabernet
Sauvignon with some Cabernet Franc and 20%, or so, of Merlot. The
vines are quite old, some dating back to the 1930s we're told. The 2006 vintage spent about a year and a half in brand new oak, much like top
wines from the best, most famous, most expensive estates around
Bordeaux. It's a remarkable wine and though I'm not accustomed to
seeing a $37.99 price tag on wines from the Cote de Bourg, I'm also not
accustomed to tasting wines of this caliber bearing that relatively modest
It's nice, though, to see the work of "over achievers." They
give those famous estates a real run for the money!
The 2006 is quite drinkable now, especially paired with beef or
lamb. It seems to have structure for additional cellar time, but the
tannins are not coarse or hard-edged.
Currently in stock: 2006 CHATEAU FALFAS Cote de Bourg "Le
estate has long been a favorite of Americans as the name is easier to
pronounce than numerous other wineries in Bordeaux. It doesn't hurt
that the wine is typically pretty good and the price is usually within the
realm of reason.
The late Henri Martin, who died in the early 1990s, lobbied endlessly for Château
Gloria to be included on the list of "classified" estates in the
Medoc. His argument was a good one: the property consists of
parcels which had all been pieces of other classified estates (Château Léoville-Poyferre,
Château Gruaud Larose, Château St Pierre and even Château Duhart Milon, a
Pauillac estate that owned a patch in Saint Julien at one time).
Unfortunately for Hank, these parcels would take on the classification of
the new owner. Had Leoville Las Cases purchased these, they'd
suddenly be considered as a second growth. Since Monsieur Martin
was not the owner of a classified estate at that moment, the parcels lost
their "nobility", so to speak.
Today the estate comprises something close to 47 hectares. It's about
two-thirds Cabernet Sauvignon, one quarter Merlot with a small percentage of
Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. It's run by Martin's son-in-law,
Jean-Louis Triaud who also runs the classified growth of a neighboring
property, Château Saint-Pierre.
The wine is not the most flashy or compelling Saint Julien, but it is a
reliable bottle and, usually, an above average wine. Gloria represents
the appellation well, actually. The wine is 'typical' in most vintages
and if the price is right, it can be a good value.
We currently have the 2008 vintage, a fine year for Bordeaux in general and
Gloria in particular. The vintage produced a fairly sturdy wine and
it's certainly drinkable now and ought to continue to develop over the next
10+ years. We found decanting this an hour before dinner is helpful and
the wine is, uh, glorious with red meats.
The 1999 vintage, recently arrived from Bordeaux, is a good example of this
producer with a bit of bottle aging. It's bouquet is nicely developed
and showing well...classic. We suspect this can be cellared for
another ten years, in fact.
Currently in stock: CHÂTEAU GLORIA 2008 SALE $49.99
CHATEAU GLORIA 1999
CHATEAU GLORIA 2001 SALE
2009 Bordeaux Supérieur $14.99
2006 "Cuvée Prestige" Sold Out
Roumage owns this property and makes a range of wines. Wine guru Michel
Rolland's lab is hired to run lab analysis of the wines here, though I'm not
sure he makes too many suggestions regarding the wines.
to his/her 2009 "Cuvée Tradition," a wine which spent a year in oak.
This is one of the best "fourteen buck Merlot" wines you can buy,
easily more complex than any of the watery California Merlots in a similar
price range. It's become a "by-the-case" wine for many
customers, testimony to its quality and value.
The Cuvee Prestige was outstanding! Here's a wine which, much like
first growth Bordeaux, has been matured entirely in brand new oak
barrels. The fragrance of the sweet, cedary, coffeeish oak is
striking. The wine is delicious, being drinkable now and having a bit
of cellaring potential as well. We have the 2006. Our late
Gorman laughed when he tasted this, recalling a lot of the really famous
estate's wines we've tasted from 2006.
"How do these guys do it?" he asked. "They are unknown
and yet they've made wines which far outclass many of the prestigious
Estelle in 2011
They are big supporter of local artisans, too. On a recent visit,
there were dozens of interesting pieces on display and for sale.
The Cuvee Prestige spends a fair bit of time in new oak and it's a
remarkably good bottle arriving here at less than $20.
White wine has improved dramatically at Lestrille over the past half a dozen
years. And it's perfect when paired with shrimp, oysters or crab.
The entire range is impressive.
In the cellar at Lestrille-Capmartin.
This "watering can" is used to top up the barrels, keeping
them full and preventing the wine from being exposed to air.
Jean Louis and his daughter Estelle.
is another one of the 10,000 estates in Bordeaux, so how can anyone be
familiar with but a tiny percentage of the wineries there?
We're always looking for good value wines, as you might know if you've
perused these web pages.
Larquey is a 30 hectare vineyard located at the southern portion of
Bordeaux. It's actually, if we've read the map correctly, a short
distance due east of Sauternes and about 15 miles north of the Marmandais
region. Drive northeast and in an hour you're in
The soils are clay and limestone, so Merlot is the predominant grape in
the Rochet family's vineyard.
We tasted a line-up of red Bordeaux and this wine got the thumbs up from
the entire Weimax crew. It's said to be 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet
We like the dark berry fruit and hints of cassis in this wine.
It won't get a high numerical score from critics who think they can assess
a wine on some mystical hundred point scale.
That's due to two particular factors:
1). It doesn't have a hundred dollar price tag...the higher the
price, the higher the score. And it helps if the wine is made by
some famous consulting enologist who's known to these critics, as that
adds points to this score.
2). Critics give more points to wines that are undrinkable. A
wine must portray the impression of needing 20 years aging to be given
high marks for "aging potential." That's why wines such as
Beaujolais, intended for immediate enjoyment, get short shrift from
critics because you can enjoy them tonight. Same for this sort of
wine. It's perfectly enjoyable this evening, especially when paired
with a steak or roast. As it's not aggressively tannic and
astringent, critics give lower scores to a wine you can put on the dinner
table half an hour after buying it.
Now we're not saying this is a hall-of-fame candidate or that it will
change your life. But for thirteen dollars, it does leave you a few
bucks to go buy a nice steak and fire up the grill.
Currently in stock: 2012 CHATEAU LARQUEY Bordeaux Supérieur
Medoc has vineyards all over the place and there are some good values in
the areas north of Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe where this marvelous bottle
It's a wine made by Philippe Berard, whose family has long cultivated
vineyards and raised cattle in the northern Medoc.
Our late colleague Bob was surprised to learn President Obama had invested in
a winery in Bordeaux. But he forgotten to put new batteries in his
hearing aids. It's "Haut Bana, not Obama, Bob."
We've tasted several vintages from this guy and he clearly knows how to
make a stylish little Bordeaux and he sells it for honest money.
Now it's not a wine in the same league with hugely prestigious neighbors
such as Latour, Lafite or Mouton and, thankfully, it costs pennies to
their dollars. But you will recognize the wine as coming from
Bordeaux and you may even recognize it as a pretty good Medoc wine.
The vineyard has a fairly high percentage of Merlot and the wine shows
some nicely plummy red and black fruits with a lightly cedary note from
the oak aging.
We have the 2011 vintage in the shop presently...this is a vintage where,
for us, the major, high-priced bottles from Bordeaux are a
disappointment. Yet the 2011 Haut-Bana is a medium-bodied wine
that's showing well in its youth (and it's not made with the idea you need
to set is in the cellar for a decade...the wine is actually rather supple
on the palate). It' s actually very close to the same level of
quality we found in their 2010 wine.
Currently in stock: 2011 CHATEAU HAUT-BANA Medoc $16.99
One of our
French connections was interested to scope out affordable wines from the
highly-regarded 2010 vintage in Bordeaux and came back with this lovely
The Chateau Saint Aubin (not to be confused with the Burgundy wines of St.
Aubin) is situated about a 45 minute ride north of Chateau
In the 1700s, the estate was devoted to raising horses and it was some
sort of equine training school. Today, though, it's all about
viticulture and enology, as they've been making wine sine the 1870s, or
The wine of this estate is made with the idea of being drinkable in its
youth and so you need not cellar this for a decade to be able to enjoy
The sandy, gravelly soils are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit
Verdot, Merlot and they even have a few rows of Carmenere. The wine
is aged in small oak barrels, with about 15% of the cooperage being brand
new. The wines of this estate are best known in Germany and Belgium
as they've not been exporting much to the USA market.
We like the dark plum notes of the ripe fruit of the 2010 vintage.
You can sense the bit of cedary oak here, too and the tannins are supple
and round. It's a delightful twenty-buck bottle of Bordeaux.
Currently in stock: 2010 CHATEAU SAINT-AUBIN
CLOU DU PIN
Fontana family has been in the winemaking business since 1950. These
days they have about 290 hectares of vines in the area of Gensac, 15
miles, or so, east and a bit south of Saint-Emilion.
They make wines people can afford to buy and drink, not bottles intended
to be stashed in a wine rack and forgotten about while they're gathering
We've now had a couple of vintages of Clou du Pin and we're able to say
the Fontanas seem to have a clue!
The wine is 75% Merlot with 15% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet
Sauvignon. You can taste nice dark fruit in the wine and there's
even a whiff of a cedar or oak note.
We don't find much in the way of tannin, as this is meant to be
consumed while it's young. Eleven dollars won't buy you a bottle of wine
in Napa and in most cellars you'd be luck to taste a few wines for this amount
Pair it with a grilled steak or a nice piece of
Blaye region is a bit below the radar of most wine drinkers, though people
knowledgeable about Bordeaux wines know there's some good viticulture and
winemaking in these less-prestigious sub-regions today.
It wasn't always the case, however.
Bruno Martin took the reins of this little property in 1990. Roland,
though, was probably not a relative. In fact, the legend is that
Roland roamed the region in the late 700s...
He is said to have tossed a javelin into the Gironde river in the direction
of Saint Julien (which is across the water)...
But poor Roland, fighting for his Uncle Charlemagne, should have donned his
Kevlar, as he was nailed in battle, according to the history books.
Maybe someone tossed the javelin back?
Olivier Martin has been tending some 25 hectares of vines, but Bruno has
extended the property and today cultivates 29 hectares. The vines are
roughly 20 years of age, so they're mature and have their best years in
front of them. The property is predominantly Merlot, with 20% of
the land devoted to Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% to Malbec.
Neither Bruno, nor his dad, have used chemical weed killers in the
vineyards. They simply did not and do not believe that sort of farming
was/is a good viticultural practice.
They make several wines...we have their "Tradition" bottling in
the shop. It's a 2010 vintage and is rather showy, especially for its
modest $15 price tag.
Martin employs a cold soak prior to the fermentation, which is conducting
using indigenous yeasts. Two-thirds of the vintage was matured in
barrique with the rest in large tanks. We understand the wine is
approximately 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.
We find a mildly woodsy, cedary tone to this wine and it's nicely drinkable
right away. It's a medium-full bodied red wine with light
tannins. It's fairly supple on the palate on its own and tastes even
smoother with food. This can probably be held another 3 to 5 years,
but it's showing well presently.
Currently in stock: 2010 CHATEAU ROLAND LA GARDE $14.99
CHATEAU VIEUX DOMINIQUE
small estate is situated about 12 miles north of Pomerol, but it's outside
the boundaries of fancy and expensive appellations.
The estate comprises something like 26 hectares and it's mostly Merlot
planted on chalky clay soils.
The wine is predominantly Merlot with a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon.
They do a pre-fermentation maceration at cool temperatures and following a
standard vinification, the wine is kept in contact with the skins to
(hopefully) extract the maximum character from the fruit.
It's not a terribly complicated wine, but we found it to be very well-made
and it's the sort of wine you can pair with lighter fare to full-throttle
red meat dishes.
Our late colleague Bob Gorman was a master at roasting chicken and this
would pair well with such a main course.
It's not a wine intended for extended cellaring, but it's ready to drink
right now and can hold for a few years.
Currently in stock: 2011 CHATEAU VIEUX DOMINIQUE
Bordeaux Supérieur $12.99