Sunday, April 13, 2008

2001 on the Right Bank - Pomerol and St-Emilion

The big melt is on - the snow (a near record >350cm fell on Montreal this winter) is nearly gone, and the arrival of milder temperatures and the clear path to my barbecue are cause for celebration...steak and Bordeaux!

Tonight's rib steaks were paired with two "right bank" wines for another of Joe's blinded, head-to-head comparisons - a St-Emilion versus a Pomerol from the unheralded 2001 vintage.

On the right bank merlot reigns supreme, and both of these wines were no exception. The wines of Pomerol are known to be soft and lush, while the wines of St-Emilion typically use more cabernet franc, and are known for cedary, herbaceous and mineral notes (1).

The 2001 Chateau Moulin St-Georges (St-Emilion) was peppery, leathery and herbaceous, with nice rose petal and minerally notes on the nose. Awkward at first despite a one hour decant before dinner, it softened up to show good acidity, nice minerality and a velvety texture. More interesting than the La Pointe below, it will need a few more years to sort itself out. 
cork. 13.5% alcohol
est: 70% merlot, 15% cab franc, 15% cab sauv
Score: 17.5/20
Price: C$57 (LCBO)

The 2001 Chateau La Pointe (Pomerol) was exactly how I pictured a Pomerol - elegant, soft, luscious and expansive, with a generous serving of silky tannins. Attractive, but subtle and less complex than the St-Emilion - earthy, truffley, smokey cheese, perfume and dark cocoa powder. A well made, textbook Pomerol, also needs a few more years. 
cork. 13% alcohol
80% merlot, 10% cab franc, 10% cab sauv
Score: 17/20
Price: C$64 (SAQ)

My fellow tasters described the wines as austere - the wines were definitely not fruit forward -evolving over the evening and pairing very well with the grilled meat. After reading some brief notes on characteristics of St- Emilion and Pomerol all tasters easily identified the provenance of the wines.

Personally, I preferred the structured 'edginess' of the St-Emilion, but it is easy to see why people spend vast sums of money on Pomerols - typically more accessible in their youth vs. the wines of the Medoc, I have found them very easy to enjoy.


Shea said...

That's an interesting comparison. Looking at the prices of Bordeaux these days I think that vintages like 2001 and 2004 might be the last 'affordable' vintages. I have a few left bank super seconds from 2004 in my cellar (a crazy purchase that I decided to make after seeing the 2005 prices up by 100%+) and I imagine they'll need a good 10+ years, especially since your 2001's seem to still need age.

I find Bordeaux's austerity to take a bit of getting used to. It's all to easy for many drinkers to just 'like' Bordeaux because it is Bordeaux - but personally I find it needs contemplation and even palate training to fully appreciate.

Joe said...

Hi Shea - yeah, I have a few '01s and '04s, but I also bought a lot of '03s. The only '05s I bought were verticals I wanted to continue, and I bought very little. Agree with you that the '01s seem to need a lot more time (than the '03s for example). Interesting comments re: the austerity - after dinner I opened a Californian cab that I usually like - none of us liked it very much after the Bordeaux - perhaps we have been "trained" :)

Shea said...

Ya, it's always interesting to drink things like that side by side. I would guess that in another context your opinion might very well have been different. But that's what makes wine so awesome isn't it? It's never the same from moment to moment.

Joe said...

Shea - Context is critical for learning! FYI - added you to my blogroll. Cheers!

Shea said...

Thanks! I have done the same. You have a great blog.

Joe said...

Likewise! The picture of you and your buddy - was that at Opus One? How about the picture in the header?