Bordeaux Anyone?

If anyone is as tired of over-oaked American wines as I am, I have a few suggestions: turn to the Europeans.  As a group, they have been dragging their feet on the full fruit and heavy oak recommendations of Robert Parker…thank goodness.

Oh, a few have scummed to the lure of a high score from said Parker who seems to rate more on the time he had than the wine he tasted. 

On a recent trip to Bordeaux I actually had two tasting room managers tout the fact that Parker had given their wine a very high rating (they must have had a basketball hoop in the back).  One taste and I could have predicted that: so oakey and so intense it would never marry well with food. 

And let’s not forget, folks, that’s how wine was born–a beverage to compliment the table.

In it’s popularity, though, it has morphed into a certain type of  American cocktail. It has become heavy, oily and overbearing in most cases.  Intensity has become the norm in North America. 

Subtlety still reigns in the wines of Italy and France, and that wonderful earthy quality that varies from region to region.  The taste of the Bordeaux wine, or the wines of Chianti are wedded to the soil.  No heavy oak to mask it’s origin.  One taste as you are back in St. Emillion, or Sienna…the same scent that the soil in each region emits after a hard rain is magically born on the tongue.

Bordeaux Grapes

Here are a few I recommend: any Chianti Classico, Riserva.  Most are very well priced.  Think $15-20, and you do just fine.  I had a fabulous 2003 Nozzole a couple of weeks ago.  From the Verona area, near Venice, Masi delivers a very nice 2004 Campofiorin.

Recent Bordeaux’s I’ve had are a little pricier ($25-40), but well worth it in my opinion…a little young, yes, but terrific.  In a few years the same year will be too expensive or not available.  Right now they are affordable and, while not at their peak, VERY good.  Buy two and put one away for a few years: 2004 Lanessan, Haut-Medoc; 2004 Chateau Jean de Gue, Lalande de Pomerol; 2003 Chateau Grand-Puy Ducasse, Pauillac.