2009 Château Fleur Cardinale (Pre-arrival)

Just back from the annual Bordeaux en primeurs tastings, I’m happy to report that all went well; the meetings, the weather, and of course, the wines. In general terms, the vintage was a challenging one for those making red wines, though there were still some successful standouts. The dry whites of Pessac-Léognan and gold wines of Barsac/Sauternes showed amazing freshness and purity, and will be celebrated for many years to come. Stay tuned right here for further information about the wines and for our 2011 Bordeaux Futures campaign, which will be unveiled very soon!

I scheduled a multitude of meetings over 10 days, and they were all informative and constructive. Ranging from negociant visits, to cocktail parties and dinners, visits to growers and chateaux, and the tastings themselves, it was great to meet many new people and greater still to see familiar associates and friends again! Though my days were fairly planned out, I still made sure I had some time to allow for the serendipitous. Alas, this tactic has rewarded me time and time again, and this year was no exception. It all started with meeting #1, first thing Thursday morning. I met with a negoce whom I’ve known for a couple of years, and at one point he asked me what our best selling Bordeaux wines are. I said that I didn’t know off the top of my head, but after giving it a little thought, I said, “Fleur Cardinale. It’s a great wine for a great price.” Ah, the beauty of calling right into someone’s hand! It turns out he is a family friend of Florence and Dominique Decoster, owners of Château Fleur Cardinale. We had a light-hearted chuckle over this coincidence (though I don’t believe in coincidences), and resumed our discussion. Fast forward to Monday, day 1 of 5 crazy tasting days. I attended le Cercle Rive Droite tasting in St. Emilion. It can be an overwhelming tasting, as there are well over 100 Merlot based samples coming from Pomerol and St. Emilion, in addition to other Right Bank appellations. It is at this tasting where I usually get the opportunity to taste Château Fleur Cardinale. At large tastings like le Cercle, I tend to zone out so I don’t get overwhelmed, and take them one at a time. So when I showed up at the table to taste the Fleur Cardinale sample, it didn’t fully register that it was Florence Decoster that was pouring it for me. We had a chat about the wine and then she told me about a new property that they recently acquired. I then mentioned to her that one of her sons visited us here at TWH last year, and of my acquaintance with the family friend negociant. It was a very pleasant visit, and back in my zoned out mode, I marched on to taste more. I like to attend the larger tastings during/around lunch time, when the masses are eating, drinking, and socializing, leaving me room to fly through the wines. I can always get a small bite afterward. I forgot where I was exactly, maybe tasting Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux, but I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned and it was Florence. She asked me if I would like to join the Decosters for lunch, provided my schedule allowed. I pondered this for a moment. I had 2 hours until my next appointment. When traveling, allow for serendipity, things like this happen.

We stepped outside, I was immediately introduced to Dominique, and off we went to lunch. The only word I can use to describe lunch that day is soulful. It was. Speaking English very well, Florence and Dominique regaled me with their story of Dominique selling his famous Porcelaines Haviland in Limoges, to their investing in St. Emilion by acquiring Château Fleur Cardinale in 2001. All the while as I listened, I could feel the Decoster’s collective passion. At one point, Dominique mentioned to me that stylistically, their wine is made to suit their own palates. He explained to me that when one owns a property in St. Emilion, you drink your own wine a lot, so you better like it! All humor aside, there is truth in that. I went on to tell them how well their wines do with our customers, as they have consistently been price/quality leaders in our Bordeaux section for over 5 vintages. After tasting their 2009, it looks as if we will have another PQR leader on our hands come summer! Full body, rich structure, ripe fruit, hints of spice, earth, and cola. All’s well here. Please see The Wine Advocate’s review below. As is usually the case, time flies when you’re having a blast, so it unfortunately was time to pack it up and continue with our day. Florence and Dominique back at the tasting, and me with my appointments in Pomerol. What a great couple. What passion. I feel very lucky.

As I said, it’s wonderful to meet new people, and this year I met many. My passion for Bordeaux has again brought me there to scout out a new vintage for all of you. As prices are released, we expect to be active in the 2011 Futures market, and I will be here ready to help you choose which wines suit you best. Thanks for the opportunity! – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments on Bordeaux, the 2011 vintage, serendipity, or English Football: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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Filed under 2009 Bordeaux, Bordeaux, Peter Zavialoff, St. Emilion

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