Great ratings don't bring price hikes at Frankland Estates
Another week packed with interesting finds. The best value for my palate: Chateau Les Ormes De Pez 2009 (elms of Pez), owned by Ch. Lynch-Bages and the Cazes family, priced around $400/case. Ready in 2017. You can purchase half bottles, a case of 24, around $480. You will probably be able to find it closer to maturity for a small premium or maybe more cheaply due to the 2009 Bordeaux brouhaha. This usually produces 15K cases. Parker was bit stingy with his praise at 91 points. Consensus is 92-94.
McD says 94. Very dark purple. Bouquet closed; with lots of air, opened to blackberry and cassis. Medium body, crisp tannins, proper acidity, strawberry, gravel-like minerality and a touch of raspberry on the palate; it finishes cleanly, with an elegance not often found in St. Estephe. Another shown at this tasting of Cru Bourgeois 2009 St. Estephe was Chateau le Crock, $33, 93 points. I had to try it, with that name. The producers and owners are Ch. Léoville Poyferré.
As a reference point, close neighbors St. Estephe Grand Cru Classe deuxiemes crus Chateaux, Montrose and Cos d’Estournel sell for $195 and $275, respectively. Do not confuse with Chateau de Pez, 90 points, which is the oldest vineyard in St. Estephe, also Exceptionnel and quite delicious but closer to $40/bottle.
An interesting side note on Bourgeois Exceptionnels ratings: Because some in France and worldwide felt that the initial ratings in 1855 were flawed and out of date due to time lapse, initial politics, revitalization of overlooked estates and a host of other reasons, cru bourgeois was implemented in 1932, comprising 444 producers. This also failed, primarily due to World War II and politics. Beginning in 2000- 03, a new three-tier rating was produced. In 2000, the grand poobahs decided to review 247 nonrated wineries. Of these, the following received the coveted high rating of Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels: Château Chasse-Spleen (Moulis-en-Médoc), Château Haut-Marbuzet (Saint-Estèphe), Château Labégorce Zédé (Margaux), Château Les Ormes-de-Pez (Saint-Estèphe), Château de Pez (Saint-Estèphe), Château Phélan Ségur (Saint-Estèphe), Château Potensac (Médoc), Château Poujeaux (Moulis-en-Médoc), and Château Siran (Margaux).
Naturally the French producers who missed the cut were outraged. Unlike those old froggys who missed in 1855 and 1933 but without the clout of Baron Phillipe Rothschild, the moderns, who had access to the French court system, twanged their magic twangers and challenged. During 2010, a new system was introduced. The best of the Exceptionnels said, ”Venez me baiser, ou le soliel ne brille pas (to mix national idioms and languages); they opted to form their own group which continues to be named, and is in most vintages, Exceptionnels. They are: Château Chasse Spleen, Château Les Ormes de Pez, Château de Pez, Château Potensac, Château Poujeaux and Château Siran..
The 2009 Clos des Papes Chateauneuf, 96 points, is on sale under $100. A bit backward, but shows great promise. Decanting plus several pour-overs released cocoa, plum, red licorice and cassis. Tight tannic grip, very dark color, proper acid balance with a very long finish that shows tea and mineral notes. Drink 2014-25. I’d wait on purchase due to 9K cases production and huge write-ups.
Old-time Chardonnay fanciers, try to locate some Gann Cellars Russian River Chardonnay. I had not known Gann produced Chardonnay. It produces a wide varietal selection of lovely wines from its own grapes. First Chardonnay vintage was 2006; it won an 89 at the Chardonnay Shootout. I loved the 2007, a lovely pale golden-colored wine that was barrel fermented and aged in oak. A grand bouquet of pineapple, oranges and butterscotch nuanced by vanilla and oak; this is nicely balanced. It is completely dry, yet it finishes sweetly due to the ripe fruit aromas. I particularly appreciated the buttered popcorn finish that was cleaned up by refreshing acidity. If more folks made affordable Chardonnay that had Gann’s profile, I would probably still be an advocate. Chard aficionados should have their wine shoppe friends order some.
Frankland Estates Dry Riesling Isolation Ridge is constantly rated in the 93-96-point range since 2003. Go here, after reading the entire paper, of course: http://www.franklandestate.com.au/accolades/single-vineyard-rieslings/isolation-ridge-riesling. I am letting you know now so you can alert your wine shoppe hero before the 2011 is released. The wonderful thing about this producer is it has held its price line even in the face of great ratings and selling out inventory. It deserves our support for providing great wine over many vintages at fair prices. I would try to buy a case, mixed four each of 2008, ’09 and ‘10. You might find it under $300.