Posted by: jmbwineblog | May 4, 2010

A reminder that the little guys can make enjoyable wine as well!!!

So the ash from the Icelandic volcano (which seems to want to send even more ash Europe’s way right now) postponed my trip to Tokyo until the 26th April. I had in fact already been told about but hadn’t seen a bottle of wine that a friend had given to me for my birthday (for which I had already planned to spend it in Tokyo, alas it wasn’t to be)…

I finally got to take a look at the wine and give it a try once I had arrived at the family house and get my stuff sorted out, which actually happened to be the following day, because my fiancee and I went out to a Jazz Bar the night before and had a few drinks, and I had a smoke of the as usual superb Cohiba Siglo VI. So what was this wine I hear you ask? It was non other than the very small and very unknown 2006 Chateau Fougas; Cotes de Bourg, that OH so well known little appelation on the right bank of Bordeaux made from predominantly Merlot, but this particular cuvee (Cuvee Prestige [They produce a more important cuvee as well]) is a blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Cabernet Franc. The chateau is small, very old and uses only Organic Fertilisers, owned by JEan-Yves Bechet who also produces the wine, they strive to let the terroir do the talking.

Dry, open and balanced, the wine is fairly deep, some some complexity, but is an easy drinking wine, but enjoyable nonetheless. Bacon, Cedar, Tobacco, Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Clove, coconut, coffee, cream, cassis, herbs, floral, mineral, earthy, vanilla, toast, wood… obvious oak pointing to its youth. It is enjoyable, pleasing and although a touch young, it certainly proves that the little guys don’t do things by halves and can make some really lovely wines as well. ****(*+)

The also brought into perspective the hype around Bordeaux. There are many lovely wines from the region that deserve to be mentioned, but they aren’t because they haven’t been discovered by the big critics who like to concentrate on the important wines or the wines that fit their styles or their palate. This can be to their detriment as they miss out on these lovely little concoctions that really do punch above their weight and prove that Bordeaux isn’t only about big, flashy, extravagence but can produce classic, terroir driven wines as well. Which brings me to the caveats around Bordeaux and En Primeur. Don’t forget that there are plenty of wines available at all values, and great enjoyment can be had from lesser wines at good prices.

Just because Robert PArker, Neal Martin, Jancis Robinson or James Suckling didn’t give it 100/100 or 20/20 doesn’t mean that it is a bad wine… it just means that it wasn’t to their tastes. It might still be very much to your tastes!!!

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The following day we went to visit an old friend and we had a bite to eat and something to drink at a bar that we all used to frequent and where we get on very well with the owner (who amazingly spends most of the time in the kitchen these days, despite being able to employ a number of new staff)! Regardless, we started with our favourite Guiness , as this is probably the first place in Tokyo to have it on tap, although many places have it now, before we moved on to a few bottles of wine before a few more cocktails and a Montecristo Petit Edmundo, which I found a touch soar and leathery but still nice and round enough to smoke right through.

Of the two wines that we opened, one would have to say that they are not my style and not something that I go out of my way to buy, but when they are on lists in bars, I tend to pick them out… they usually do the job! We started with the rich, big full blooded Domaine Virginie, 2008 Pinot Noir from Les Vin de Pays d’Oc. Not a typical Pinot Noir, something more akin to a simple, fruity but pleasant MArlborough Pinot Noir. After that we wanted something a bit more expressive and we certainly got that in the 2007 Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile, Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), full bodied, cassis, balance and power, but for me whilst a good wine, it always seems to lack a touch of elegance that I like in my wines.  

I have always wandered why there is so much of this around in Japan… now before you turn around and say, ‘it is owned by Lafite, has a similar label to Lafite, and thus people can imagine that they are drinking Lafite,’ let me explain to you that the Japanese are into Latour, Mouton and Margaux! Of course there are people who like Lafite and other Chateau, but they tend to be people who have been buying wine for a fairly long time!! I have been told that Suntory are the importers for Los Vascos which might explain something! They buy it, and dump it in Japan for almost nothing, so that they can purchase loads of Lafite to flog on at a higher price later on once in bottle to those who drool over the stuff! (Well that is what I think anyway!?!?!?!?!?!).

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