Saturday, July 07, 2007

l'Hospitalet de Gazin 1997 en Magnum.

These came in as a slightly botched purchase from a brokers, who had incorrectly identified them on their broking list as bottles. I was well chuffed to discover I was getting twice the volume for the same price, so we took them. l'Hospitalet used to be quite popular on Andrew Fairlies wine list when Johnnie Walker was the sommelier there, and even when Niall Keddie took over from Johnnie it sold quite well. A combination of a cracking wine at a good price from Pomerol is always going to help.

L'Hospitalet is the second wine of Chateau Gazin, one of the larger estates in Pomerol, with some 24 hectares of vineyards planted mostly to Merlot with some Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The heavy clay soil is rich in iron oxide, giving it a distinctive red colour, and allowing the Merlot to "keep its feet wet". The estate combines the best of modern equipment - stainless steel vats for fermentation sit alongside concrete vats- with traditional techniques of viticulture and vinification. The grapes are all hand harvested and undergo a rigorous triage before being fermented between 15 and 25 days. Upto 18months oak aged in mostly second fill casks (upto 33% new) provides the wines with the perfect pedigree and their well deserved reputation for quality.

I hadnt experienced this wine in magnum before so there was a slight degree of trepidation. On the nose I was very surprised by the rich spicyness of the nose - very savoury with clove, cinnamon and nutmeg all quite dominant. Over time the spicyness took more of a backseat and allowed the fruit to show more - victoria plums and elderberry, with a forest fruit jammyness. By the end of the meal, the customers where really loving it.

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