The Malta Independent 24 October 2021, Sunday

Pomerol on a shoestring

First Magazine Thursday, 7 October 2021, 10:48 Last update: about 17 days ago

The first chapter in This is wine: its storied place and taste.

Photography: CAB. Place de la Bourse, designed by architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel and built from 1730 to 1775  along the Garonne River in Bordeaux. The Miroir d'eau, built in 2006, is the world's largest reflecting pool.
Photography: CAB. Place de la Bourse, designed by architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel and built from 1730 to 1775 along the Garonne River in Bordeaux. The Miroir d'eau, built in 2006, is the world's largest reflecting pool.

"Fruit of the earth, work of human hands, blessed be God forever"

FRANCE - BORDEAUX - RIGHT BANK - POMEROL

In the spring of the year 1204, the Fourth Crusade, upon their quest to secure a safe route for pilgrims to the Holy Land, decided it would be more expedient and profitable to sack Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium as it was known at the time. So began the steady decline and eventual fall of the Eastern Mediterranean to the Ottomans, and with it pilgrim access to the Holy Land; and half the knowledge and culture of winemaking and drinking that was synonymous with the Greco Roman world, writes Kris Bonavita.

Pomerol is nicknamed the Burgundy of Bordeaux in that each chateau is dominated by the effects of how Merlot performs on its specific terroir (which itself is often made up of fragmented parcels of differing soils). This results in a diversity of winemaking styles to complement the range of terrain. The sandier soils tend to produce lighter earlier drinking wines, while the clay based soils give rise to a deeper richer bodied Pomerol.

From left to right: Clos Beauregard, L'Hospitalet de Gazin, Château des Jacobins, Château Lafleur-Gazin, Fleur de Clinet, and Château Bonalgue.


Six great bottles if Pétrus is out of reach

This is Pomerol

These outstanding Pomerol wines have been chosen for their high acclaim among international wine critics, their popular ratings, attractive price point and great vintages. Our team have been graciously given complimentary bottles of these wines from local suppliers to taste and give our view on how they best express and characterize the various styles of Pomerol wine. They've roughly been placed in order of strength and style from full to medium to light bodied to allow you to make your preferences in taste.

Schematically L'Hospitalet de Gazin and Château Lafleur-Gazin are more Old World bijou style; Clos Beauregard and Fleur de Clinet are more New World bold style with good pedigree; and Château Bonalgue and Château des Jacobins are fresh lively easy drinkers.

Young to medium aged red wines should be decanted for a few minutes to a few of hours (depending on personal preference) to increase aeration and allow the wine to soften and unfurl its character and bouquet (it can be well worth the wait). Red wine should be served at 15 degrees.

Please note that the tasting notes are deliberately by a wine enthusiast not by a professional sommelier. If wine is good it should be distinguishable to wine amateurs otherwise there would be no public interest.

 

L'Hospitalet de Gazin 2016

€42.32 from Farsonsdirect

Vivino popular rating 4.3/5

Wine-searcher overall critics 90/100

82 % Merlot 18% Cabernet Sauvignon (2015 estimate)

Terroir: clay, gravel, sand and iron soils with some blue clay on the highest part of the Pomerol plateau; second wine of Chateau Gazin

TASTING NOTES: SCARLET PIMPERNEL - HONEY ROASTED GUINEA-FOWL WITH DARK PLUMS, MUSHROOMS AND FLORAL THYME

At first glance L'Hospitalet is in colour velvety soft crushed cherry red; the initial aroma; game and plum with shavings of truffle and violet. This extends itself well into the palate bursting with concentrated flavour, where dark cherry, blackberry, cranberry and vanilla are at home. A bold to medium intensity carries through and lasts long after the attack (or initial taste) with a solid bouquet backed by a depth of taste, tinged by a fresh acidity and slight minerality, almost of sweet cut grass. At this stage the tannins are perfectly supple and feminine as all good Merlot. The finish is smooth; the structure, a soft whispering balance but with an ample presence especially for a youngish wine. Upon three hour decanting the wine evolved into one that expressed more of the secondary and tertiary oaky leather and allspice; earthy mushroom and herb flavours. The dark fruits are now more integrated but red fruit flavours are now more pronounced. This is where Pomerol hits new complex notes more familiar in older Bordeaux, possibly the Cabernet Sauvignon blend in this wine has come through. The colour has deepened to garnet and the tannins show a greater expression of terroir, a hint of things to come after a bit more cellaring. This is very much in the style of the Moueix Old World of winemaking of Pétrus fame.

At this stage this wine is perfectly lovely. If anyone out there is not too keen on their French wines, medium radiant and fresh yet decadent Pomerol like this is uniquely different, requiring little or no decanting, just for the gorgeous bouquet alone.

Supplier details: Farsonsdirect has a vast selection of Pomerol wines at all price ranges. Apart from Pétrus Farsonsdirect also have Château Trotanoy, Château Gazin, Château Certan de May, Château de Sales and Château Nenin. Farsonsdirect, The Brewery, Mdina Road, B'Kara. Tel 00356 2381 4444.

Web farsonsdirect.com


Château Lafleur-Gazin 2016

€59 from Mirachem Marketing Ltd

Vivino popular rating 4.3/5

Jeff Leve 90/100

Wine-searcher overall critics 91/100

85% Merlot 15% Cabernet Franc

Terroir: 30 year old Merlot vines on gravel and clay; Cabernet Franc on silt alluvial deposits on the eastern edge of the plateau

TASTING NOTES: SEDUCTION OF THE MINOTAUR - HONEY GLAZED ROASTED GAMMON WITH CHERRIES AND CLOVE

On first opening Lafleur-Gazin is a deep dense garnet red. The initial bouquet is a complex array of fragrant aromas: violet, lavender, deep plum, red cherry, coffee, anise, even pepper. Earthy and oaky savoury notes of leather, caramelized gammon, smoke and wood also make their mark. Upon tasting, the wine has a medium bodied mouth feel with a nice fruit and spice finish. The elegance of this wine is in its balanced structure and silky tannin textures. Upon decanting for three hours the wine really opens up. The bouquet expresses a sweeter side of herby grass notes and red fruit aromas which follow through on the palate. The finish is longer and the flavours and structure of the wine seem more powerfully integrated with even more finesse.

I suggest decanting this wine even just for a short time to really savour the flavours already prevalent in the bouquet, which is already a mouthful even before tasting. If you want all the elegance of an Old World style of Pomerol with all the trappings of fruitier, younger and lighter wines look no further.

Supplier details: Mirachem also offer a great selection of other Pomerols at various price points. Worthy of note are their Château Trotanoy, Château Moulinet-Laserre, Château Plince, Château La Croix St George and Château Certan de May - all top calibre wines. Mirachem, Mira Building, Triq Kan K Pirotta, B'Kara.

Tel 00356 2148 8590. Web wine.mt


Fleur de Clinet 2016

€56.80 from Iv Cellars

Vivino popular rating 4.2/5

Jeff Leve 91/100

Wine-searcher overall critics 89/100

95 % Merlot 5 % Cabernet Franc

Terroir: blue clay ferruginous soils in the heart of Pomerol; second wine of Clinet

TASTING NOTES: RED POPPIES AND PURPLE BLUE ANEMONES - ROAST CHICKEN WITH ROSEMARY CHESTNUT STUFFING AND PLUM CHUTNEY

Upon uncorking, Fleur de Clinet is a dark deep garnet red. A very fragrant bouquet of violet, strawberry and plum hits the air. This is followed by mid tone aromas of liquorice, dark chocolate, toasted coffee and caramel with traces of dry tobacco leaf and baked spices of cloved apple and cinnamon. The wine is richly bold even before tasting. The initial palate comes through with dark fruit and spicy flavours that resonate. This medium bodied wine is full of texture with mouth drying tannins upon the finish. Somewhere along the lines smoke, buttery cream and savoury roast white meat aromas also make their mark. After five hours of decanting the wine seems fleshier with an even fuller bouquet. However the real surprise is in the drinking, where the wine now exhibits a bolder structure, a more integrated mouth feel, with dry but welcomingly smooth tannins.

It is worth decanting this wine to allow it to open up gracefully without losing its initial grandeur. At this stage this is a more approachable version of the monumental grand vin of the same vintage; almost a foretaste of years of cellaring. The wine offers a nicely integrated blend of old world terroir pedigree with young vine grapes bursting with fruit while equally plumbing new depths.

Supplier details: Iv Cellars also have Château Clinet 2010, 2012, 2015 the full bodied grand vin on par with Pétrus and Cheval Blanc only at much more reasonable prices with top score ratings of 100 in some vintages from famous wine critics Robert Parker and Jeff Leve. Iv Cellars, Sir Arturo Mercieca Street (adjacent to The Diplomat Hotel), Sliema.

Tel 00356 2746 0534. Web ivcellarsmalta.com


Clos Beauregard 2016

€46.60 from The Store

Vivino popular rating 4.1/5

Jeff Leve (other vintages) 90/100

Wine-searcher overall critics 90/100

93% Merlot 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 3% Cabernet Franc

Terroir: mix of sand and clay soils with 40 year old vines on the south edge of Pomerol bordering St Emilion

TASTING NOTES: A WALL GARDEN ENCLOSURE WITH A BEAUTIFUL VIEW - PAN-SEARED DUCK BREAST WITH SAVOURY THYME, ALLSPICE, CHERRY AND BLACKBERRY SAUCE

On opening Clos Beauregard is a deep ruby red with an orange amber glow. On the nose a lush complex bouquet of full fruit; aromas of cassis, wild cherry and plum; quickly followed by undertones of coffee, spicy cinnamon and clove, treacly anise and earthy wet leaves. Savoury vegetal notes of sweet tomato, light gamey meat and rich gravy also make their mark. This wine is a feast on the nose even before tasting. The initial palate follows through with a burst of fruit of slight acidity leading to a medium bodied quite dry lasting finish. In the backdrop wafts of oaky notes of cedar and cigar box assert themselves. Upon decanting for a few hours the fleshy textures and velvety tannins become more noticeable with some of the fruit flavours adding new depths. An aura of tart red currant and red apple acidity keeps the wine fresh even at this stage. I would dip into this wine at both ends; savour upon opening with sporadic lulls to re-savour.

This is a Rolland New World style of wine at full throttle: fully ripened grapes with full fruit, full alcohol and soft acidity. Yet the Pomerol terroir also rears its elegant head. Not unexpectedly there is some resemblance to a fragrant St Emilion of the Figeac hills kind. There is a deep sense of place in the graceful aromas and flavours of this grand vin which explains what wine experts mean when they use the term connectivity.

Supplier details: The Store also have a Château La Patache of Michel Rolland fame a good value lighter Pomerol at 35 euros. The Store, Triq taz-Zwejt, San Gwann (Industrial Estate). Tel 00356 2144 4364. Web thestore.mt


Château Bonalgue 2013

€48.44 from S. Rausi Trading Ltd

Vivino popular rating 3.8/5

Jeff Leve 85/100

Wine-searcher overall critics 86/100

90% Merlot 10% Cabernet Franc

Terroir: sand, gravel and clay with on average 25 year old vines north of Cattuseau and Libourne

TASTING NOTES: BACH FUGUE IN G MINOR - WILD BOAR ROSEMARY RAGU WITH PAPPARDALLE

Upon opening Bonalgue is a crystal clear soft ruby red with an amber glow. A perfumed bouquet of violet and rose on the nose with wild strawberry, chocolate and leather soon following. Upon tasting, very light and smooth on the palate with tangy red currant, cinnamon, cedar  and spring leaf flavours, and a dry subtle finish; all welcome notes in Merlot and Cabernet Franc blends grown on lighter gravel soils. After decanting for five hours, the bouquet is more miasmic with hints of honey and thyme giving way to tart Black Forest Cake flavours of maraschino wild cherries and raw cocoa nibs. What started off as a seemingly lighter wine has blossomed into more of a fleshy medium bodied wine with a more structured finish that follows through on the aromas.

The perfumed bouquet is elegant throughout so it's a question of taste whether to drink up fresh, light and dynamic, or decant and wait to enjoy the graciously aged body and structure of the wine more. Either way it's at perfect drinking age for a 2013 Bordeaux vintage.

Supplier details: S. Rausi Trading has an extensive selection of French and Italian wines. S Rausi Trading Ltd, Empire Stadium Str, Gzira. Tel 00356 2131 6210. Web srausi.com/shop


Château des Jacobins 2014

€42.13 from S. Rausi Trading Ltd

Vivino popular rating 4.2/5

Wine-searcher overall critics 90/100

90% Merlot 10% Cabernet Franc

Terroir: sand and gravel terroir to the southwest of the plateau

TASTING NOTES: STRINDBERG IN AUTUMN - SMORGASBORD OF SMOKED SALMON, TOMATO, CREAM CHEESE AND DILL ON RYE BREAD

Upon first uncorking, Jacobins is middling garnet red. First aromas are of redcurrant, blackcurrant and red cherry with a soft bouquet of dry tobacco leaves. Upon tasting fresh fruit prevail, with a medium to light mouth feel (mid-palate sensation) and medium dry tannins displaying hints of liquorice and possibly vanilla. After five hours decanting the wine really opens up into something entirely more weighty, more complex. The fruit aromas turn more autumnal with dark berries and pressed red apple coming through; the tannins give way to earth and oak tones of dry leaf, leather and spice; aniseed and clove. What seemed like a lighter wine blossomed into something with more texture and structure with an equally more enduring finish (aftertaste); suggesting that despite its vintage date it can easily take more years of cellaring. I really suggest decanting this wine to experience the transformation.

The sand and gravel terroir lives up to its name in providing a lighter style wine that is easy to drink young. But this betrays what lies beneath this comfortable façade - a Merlot with a Pomerol pedigree just becomes more gracious and opulent with age.

Supplier details: S. Rausi Trading has an extensive selection of French and Italian wines. S Rausi Trading Ltd, Empire Stadium Str, Gzira. Tel 00356 2131 6210. Web srausi.com/shop


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