First, get ready for the 2009 vintage when it comes up to buy on futures this summer. I tried several 2009s, both the components and the blends, at several wineries, and what I tasted was uniformly good. It's been touted as the best since 2005. We're still six weeks or so away from primeurs - the big 2009 vintage tasting - so the blends that have just been put into barrels will taste even better when they are formally presented to the wine world. Balance is the key to this vintage, although those who wring their hands over alcohol will pay too much attention to what's on the label and not in their mouth. Anne-Francois Quie of Chateau Rauzan-Gassies calls 2009 a "winemakers vintage" in that there were so many options. "There was no rushing or disasters at harvest, so we could make choices."
Second, pay more attention to the Cotes de Castillon, the wine region east of St.-Emilion that occupies the same plateau as that stellar app. The wines are similar in composition and style to St. Emmy, but are much more reasonable in price. I visited four chateaux which sell to the U.S., and I can recommand all of them - Clos Puy Arnaud and Chateaux Castegens, de Pitray and Poupille.
Third, if you visit Bordeaux, take time to go Margaux gourmet with a tour set up by women at four chateaux who call themselves Les 4 Margalaises. The chateaux are Rauzan-Gassies, Kirwan, La Tour de Bessan and Prieure-Lichine, and the tour includes a lot of background on Margaux that I found fascinating, even after many visits there. Plus you get to drink and nibble at each chateau and experience a gourmet lunch at one of them.
Next week, we get back to our regular programming of wines to consider, buy, try and take a pass on.
Until next time...