Synthetic First Growth: 2007 Château Pontet Canet

Gah! There goes the phone again. Hello. Good Morning. How are you doing today? There’s no mistaking it, our anniversary sale is on!!! The reaction is typical – phones ringing, incoming emails and online orders, and customer visits. Yep, the sale has begun. While we frantically do our best at helping you all select the best sale wines for you and your respective budgets, please allow me to shine a light on a particular sale wine that has me scratching my head thinking, “Hmmm. Remember the time Chuck asked me to help him buy a gift for JT, and we selected a 1983 Latour for less than $100?” Yes, I hate being one of those geezers who says, “I remember when this used to cost …”, but I do. First Growth Bordeaux for less than $100; I remember. A Fifth Growth is not a First Growth, no argument there. But those cloaked appraisers of numerical Growth status came to their conclusions sans the commercial availability of the light bulb. Though the famous 1855 classification still stands (with only 1 change in 1973), the quality and price points of the various wines are not necessarily beholden to a consensus formed when Franklin Pierce was president. Which leads me to divulging WHY I am choosing to point out that the 2007 Château Pontet Canet could very well be the superstar of our 35th Anniversary Sale. For several vintages now, I have referred to Pontet Canet as a “synthetic First Growth.”
Why a “synthetic First Growth?”I’ll try to spare you all the long story, but in a past life, I toiled on the Pacific Exchange Options Floor. For us math geeks, there were a myriad of interesting positions one could trade into using calls, puts, and the underlying stock. Using the right combination of 2 components, one can create a long or short position in the third. Those are known as “synthetic” positions; they are every bit as profitable (or losing) as it would be if you had a position in the real thing … blah, blah, blah. Sorry.

I’m not rebellious by nature, but when I see something one way, and the “official source” declares it otherwise, I usually stick with my observation. I have plenty of baseball scoresheets marking hits that were “officially” scored errors, and vice-versa. I’ll tip my cap to, and continue to try to memorize the 1855 classification, but let’s face it, that was 1855, man. I’m not building a case ready to reclassify the Médoc, I just want to point out that there is still First Growth quality Bordeaux out there for less than $100.

The reason for Pontet Canet’s climb to the upper echelon of Paulliac producers is Alfred Tesseron. Since he took over the château in 1994, they have been making better and better wine every year. They have certainly been regularly outperforming their archaic 5th Growth ranking for well over a decade. I’ve written about Pontet Canet before, they’re essentially across the street, just south of Mouton Rothschild. Their respective terroir is similar. When I first visited the château in 2008, it was quickly pointed out that there were horses working the vineyard. At the time, they were working towards the Agence Bio organic certification. They earned it beginning with the 2010 vintage.

After attending the En Primeur tastings in 2008, and the subsequent UGC tasting in January 2010, it was apparent that the 2007 Pontet Canet was a huge standout from what seems to be an under appreciated vintage. The wine press (and many a Bordeaux lover) has had much praise for the 2007 Pontet Canet. Here’s what The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin had to say:

“Tasted at Bordeaux Index’s Pontet-Canet dinner at The Ledbury. The 2007 continues to be a great Pauillac considering the vintage. Here the nose closed at first back opens up nicely with blackberry and graphite, less of the Margaux element that I noticed a few months ago. The palate has volume so atypical for the vintage with soft caressing tannins and a very harmonious blackcurrant, mulberry and vanilla tinged finish. Tasted February 2011. 93 points.”

There you have it. Day one of our 35th Anniversary Sale has been a doozy. I probably heard the customer quote of my entire tenure here at TWH today. Seriously. Anya, Tom, and I were running around crazy all day helping many customers wrestle away some trophy bottles for crazy good prices. 3 liter bottles of 2005 Bordeaux, some fancy Burgundy, and many a bargain case, all made their way out of here today. But hey, that’s what the sale is all about. Somehow, I (barely) found a few minutes to tell you all about a wine that I think should not be missed. The “synthetic First Growth”, 2007 Château Pontet Cantet. The official scorekeeper’s ruling? A hit!Peter Zavialoff

Please note: The 2007 Pontet Canet was purchased by The Wine House as usual: directly from La Place in Bordeaux, and shipped to our warehouse in refrigerated container. The wine has always been in pristine condition throughout its trip to our shop.

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about the 1855 Bordeaux classification, options trading, or English Football: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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Filed under 2007 Bordeaux, Pauillac, Peter Zavialoff

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