Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Wine Blogging Wednesday 22

Well its here again, Wine Blogging Wednesday 22 is here, with what I have to admit has been a very interesting challenge. The theme of WBW 22 was red wine with an A.B.V. of less than 12.5%. Now I thought that having a cellar with in excess of a thousand bins might put me at a bit of an advantage in finding something, but as I posted earlier, boy was I wrong. I seriously struggled to find wines under 12.5, and I was on the verge of "bending" the rules a little and doing a red at 12.5% of which I had quite a few candidates, when I stumbled upon a bottle that was 12% on the nail. Excellent, but then I found another three bottles and suddenly I had to chose which to do, which made it a bit harder, but in the end I settled for a bottle of 1982 Branaire (Duluc-Ducru) a 4eme cru classe from St Julien. Formed from a piece of the Beychevelle estate in 1666, it was purchased in 1680 by Jean-Baptiste Braneyre, before being bequeathed through many generations of the family until the late 80's. Now run by a family society under the chairmanship of Patrick Maroteaux, it is a wine that is very much under-rated. The wine is known for its rich body, fragrant aromas, with a firm palate tempered by a soft underbelly.

The cork was a bit of a bugger to get out, splitting in three places, damn thing even confounded my Butlers thief. Its one thing that I really hate about opening old bottles, and I cant wait for all these wines we are bottling under screwcap now, to mature over the years, and twenty years from now to be able to open them with ease!! So once that battle was over a small sample was poured into a glass to examine. A very clear wine, starting to look a bit dull, with a pale brick red core and a browning rim which usually indicates a good degree of maturity. On the nose the wine was a bit stinky at first, with a kind of farmyard like aroma, but that soon disappeared and the wine opened out with aromas of spiced fruit cake with quite a fruity edge to it. I was pleasantly surprised by the build up of fruity flavours on the nose, and each time I went back to sniff something else was starting to show. On the palate it was clean and quite pronounced in flavour, with the Dundee cakey flavours followed by more berry fruit flavours wrapped in the very well balanced characters of new French oak. Time has mellowed the acidity right down, and the tannins have softened up as they pass across the gums like silk, supporting the fruit flavours but never dominating them.

I think I would describe this as quite a feminine St Julien compared to more brutish Gruaud-Larose and Lagrange. I have to say that I was really impressed with this wine, more so than the 1989 which I also tasted tonight, but as it came in at 12.8% it wasnt eligable. Its on our list as Bin 230 at a not inconsiderable sum of £120 a bottle, but I really believe it is worth every pound of it.

I cant wait to read some of the other posts and see what wonderful wines the blogosphere has come up with.

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