2006 Bordeaux – The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux Comes To San Francisco

The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux recently stopped here in San Francisco pouring the newly bottled, non-hyped, saved by the sunny September 2006 vintage. Though not all chateaux are members of the Union (most of the high-fliers are not), there were over 120 wines poured.

The Wine House was represented as Patrick, Peter, and John were all able to taste the wide range of wines presented, and guess what? All three were impressed! The wines showed classic claret character. Despite their youth, most of the wines were approachable, and some were showing ravishing hints of their future development. They’ve got the stuff to last, and will offer great drinking while you’re waiting for those 2005s to shed their baby fat.

We don’t want to leave the impression that 2006 is just a little brother next to their 2005 counterparts. There are certain chateaux, including Lynch Bages, Mouton Rothschild, Giscours and the recently arrived Pichon Lalande to name a few, where the 2006 bottling is considered to be at least the equivalent of if not better than their 2005 counterpart. With prices less expensive, we suggest that those of you who appreciate classic claret to take a look at the 2006 vintage. Except for a few early arrivals, the wines are being sold on a pre-arrival basis, and are expected in mid to late 2009.

Patrick’s Impressions:
Well, we tasted separately, and didn’t stop to discuss much along the way (Peter blazed ahead of me; I dawdled a bit at the beginning, thinking I had a chance of taking detailed notes and get to taste as much as I wanted. Not.). However, we shared notes briefly on the following Monday, and found many common favorites, as well as some divergences in opinion. One thing rang true for me, though– these 2006 Bordeaux far exceeded my expectations based on the press. Recognized by the wine pundits as a particularly good vintage for the right bank, especially Saint Emilion (and yes, these were very good), I found a tremendous variety of character and overall high level of quality among left bank wines, as well. I knew it was a well-regarded vintage for the dry whites of Graves and Pessac-Leognan, and each I tasted was compelling, but the reds had much more to offer than I perhaps expected. Of course, these wines on both sides of the Dordogne are overshadowed by the splashy 2005s, but they are classic Bordeaux that offer tremendous pleasure now, but will age gracefully for many years to come. Overall, these 2006s offered a tremendous amount of sheer pleasure, in contrast to the massiveness of 2005s at the moment. Some of my notes below:

2006 Chateau Angelus Saint Emilion (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Merlot; Bordeaux;
$199.00
Add to Cart
Opulent, as one might expect, without going overboard. Velvety texture full of intense dark fruits, but solidly structured.
2006 Chateau Canon Saint Emilion (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Merlot; Bordeaux;
$73.00
Add to Cart
Again, wonderfully plush texture, but with good energy and high-toned fruit singing above a profound texture.
2006 Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere Saint Emilion (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Merlot; Bordeaux;
$77.00
Add to Cart
It’s all there–ripe, rich, round, concentrated, elegant texture, blah, blah, blah… Stefan von Neipperg has done it again with this classic Saint Emilion.
2006 Clos Fourtet Saint Emilion (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Merlot; Bordeaux;
$59.00
Add to Cart
Ripe, well-endowed, concentrated, toast and mocha-inflected fruit.
2006 Chateau Figeac Saint Emilion (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Merlot; Bordeaux;
$94.00
Add to Cart
Very classy, elegant, with minerality and suavity.
2006 Chateau Giscours Margaux (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$50.00
Add to Cart
A beauty. Perhaps the wine of the tasting?! Really savory, fresh berries, graceful, suave. I couldn’t spit this one.
2006 Chateau Leoville Poyferre Saint Julien (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$64.50
Add to Cart
Classic St. Julien– big, but graceful and polished. Usually a Gruaud-Larose man, I preferred this.
2006 Chateau Pontet Canet Pauillac (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$73.00
Add to Cart
Distincive, with pretty floral perfume intermingled with savory, rich fruit.
2006 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac-Leognan (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$55.00
Add to Cart
Powerful red-fruited nose cloaked in toast, graphite and caramel. Big, richly concentrated dark fruits on the palate, with a now sternly tannic finish.
2006 Chateau Troplong Mondot Saint Emilion (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Merlot; Bordeaux;
$129.00
Add to Cart
Attractive aromatics, with plenty of licorice-laced fruit, broad texture and powerful, lingering finish.Patrick Mitten
Peter’s Notes:
When details and opinions began to circulate regarding the 2006 vintage in Bordeaux, I always had in the back of my mind the thought that this was going to be one of those solid vintages, with modest pricing (okay, well, in many cases, anyway), whose wines will disappear just before the press really sing its praises. 2001 comes to mind immediately in this regard. It’s always good to have wines from great vintages in ye olde cellar, but hey, just like red Burgundy, I seem to enjoy vintages that the mainstream wine writers don’t gush over. So when the UGC came to pour Bordeaux 2006, I had an open mind, and would let the wines do the talking. Well, speak they did, some more than others, but for the most part, I was particularly impressed. The dry whites received acclaim, and rightfully so, they deserve it. The reds showed classic claret character without mouth shocking structure, and even though I had to hit the bread and cheese spread twice due to palate fatigue, I was able to get through the whole show tasting everything. (PS If Patrick found me to have blazed ahead, you should try to keep up with John at one of these tastings!) My notes below:

2006 Chateau d’Armailhac Pauillac (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$35.50
Add to Cart
Old school funkiness, zippy vibrancy, bright fruit, a quality effort.
2006 Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere Saint Emilion (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Merlot; Bordeaux;
$77.00
Add to Cart
Stefan von Neipperg poured this for me himself, but I don’t seem to get star struck anymore. Big fruit, extra dimension on the aromatics, wow, rich, alive, will last, one of the ones. I guess I liked that one.
2006 Chateau Clerc Milon Pauillac (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$44.00
Add to Cart
Black cherries and mineral nose, toasty spice, medium tannins, and a menthol lift, it finishes of crushed, rocky cherries.
2006 Chateau Climens Barsac (Pre-Arrival)
Sweet Wine; Semillon; Bordeaux;
$89.00
Add to Cart
2006 Chateau Climens Barsac (half bottle) (Pre-Arrival)
Sweet Wine; Semillon; Bordeaux;
$46.00
Add to Cart
I think this one was second to last for me, but my note starts off modestly, but then: Racy, candied fruit aromas, warm, soft, luscious, oily, deep botrytis, WOW! What depth!!!
2006 Chateau Coutet Barsac (Pre-Arrival)
Sweet Wine; Semillon; Bordeaux;
$46.50
Add to Cart
2006 Chateau Coutet Barsac (half bottle) (Pre-Arrival)
Sweet Wine; Semillon; Bordeaux;
$25.00
Add to Cart
This has been my favorite Sauternes property over the last several vintages as they seem to be doing something very right lately. Rich, harmonious, botrytis, hint of candied pears and mandarin orange, wow.
2006 Chateau Giscours Margaux (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$50.00
Add to Cart
Polished fruit, hint of toasty mocha, like heaven, racy acidity, medium fruit, well integrated oak, harmony, I love this wine. Yep, confirming, this showed best of all.
2006 Chateau Lynch Bages Pauillac (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$72.00
Add to Cart
Modern style, oaky spice, rich tannins, lively fruit, mellow finish.
2006 Chateau Pichon Lalande Pauillac
Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$119.98
Add to Cart
Big extract, rich, powerful, all tied together in delicious harmony. Finishes like a sunset. One for the cellar. IN STOCK!
2006 Chateau Pontet Canet Pauillac (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$73.00
Add to Cart
Nose: berries upon berries … stewy fruit, high toned, yet in balance, zippy finish.
2006 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac-Leognan (Pre-Arrival)
Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$55.00
Add to Cart
Ah, another great effort here. I love these guys. Very unique. Dark fruit, gravel, and gamey, sweet fruit, zippy acid, racy tannins all tied together in harmony. Peter Zavialoff
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Filed under 2006 Bordeaux, Bordeaux, French Wine, Patrick Mitten, Peter Zavialoff

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