To keep my airline miles from expiring I recently had hundreds of magazines to choose from. The problem is I find I have no time to read magazines (just ask my husband, my growing stack of unread People’s is driving him nuts).
But while perusing the list there was one name that caught my eye: Wine Spectator. I thought “hey this is something I’d like to read for personal and professional reasons, and if I’m lucky the hubs will also want to read it and not get mad when the magazines start to accumulate around the house.”
So subscribe I did and a short number of days later our mailbox was filled with the oversized publication. The cover told us what we were in for: “Bordeaux at Its Best, 2010: A classic vintage; 450 at 90+”.
Washington winemakers produce some great Bordeaux blends and we’re starting to familiarize ourselves with those, but we decided we’d take the Wine Spectator opinion about the 2009 and 2010 vintages coming out of France (they’re calling them two of the best in recent history) and look for wines from the top-producing wine regions at our local grocer. The nice thing about France is you can often good wine from a region that is producing some of the world’s top wines, at an affordable price.
With a list of wine regions in his hand, my husband set out to try and find something in the $11 to $12 price range for us to compare. He came home with a 2010 Chateau Blouin from Bordeaux’s Right Bank and a 2010 Mouton Cadet, also from the Right Bank.
We decided to pour the two and try them against each other, and with our steak dinner, to decide which we preferred.
The Chateau Blouin is a blend of 8o percent merlot and 20 percent cabernet franc; the Cadet had a few more grapes, breaking down with 65 percent merlot, 20 percent cabernet sauvignon and 15 percent cab franc.
Both wines had good structure and were indicative of what you can expect of a Bordeaux — dark fruit flavors and berries with strong tannins, which made the wines a tight at first, but after some time in the glass they softened.
Our preference of the two with dinner was the Cadet. This wine had a beautiful ruby red robe, a great nose (I’m pretty sure that was thanks to the merlot) and a softer finish on the palate. I noted the finish was slightly lacking, which I think was a result of a minerality in the wine that kept it from opening across my palate.
The Chateau Blouin failed to impress me. It had the same beautiful robe with a stronger purple tint. The nose was musty, (although that might have been from my glass) and the finish was “tangy”. This wine had more earth flavors and was slightly vegetal.
After trying the wines with our steak dinner we decided we should probably see how they stood up to chocolate. So we paired them with dessert. The chocolate really seemed to bring out the flavors of the Cadet, while the Chateau Blouin remained closed. My husband felt that both wines did better with the chocolate than the steak, but part of that could also be that by the time we had them with chocolate they had time to breath and open up.
I’m not sure I’d buy them again, but then again for $11 and with enough time to open up in a decanter, I could probably be swayed to try the Cadet one more time.
If you’re interested in trying a similar comparison, look for some of these more affordable wines as recommended by James Molesworth of Wine Spectator (the name in parenthesis is the region where the grapes were grown):
- Chateau Montlabert, (St-Emilion) $20
- Chateau Bel Air, (Haut-Medoc) $23
- Chateau Belle-vue, (Haut-Medoc) $25
- Chateau de Carlmagnus, (Fronsac) $18
- Chateau Retout, (Haut-Medoc) $18
- Terra Burdigala, (Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux Chateau Manoir du Gravoux la Violette 2010) $20
- Chateau Paloumey, (Haut-Medoc) $17