I don’t drink Bordeaux as often as I’d like. There are multiple reasons for this. I belong to a generation that hasn’t been able to afford it on a regular basis (long gone are the days of $12 first growths). I also lack the patience to age claret into the autumnal glow of earthy, wooly secondary characteristics, and consume it in its primary, tannic youth. And lastly, my heart hasn’t always been in it. It was, I think, the exotic, wild perfume and spice of Rhone wines that first seduced me, but sometimes I do seek the aristocratic reserve and intellectual stimulation of Bordeaux.
So it was a couple weeks ago that I took home a bottle of 2005 Cap de Faugeres (85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc). It has a long reputation as an overachiever in the Cotes de Castillon, it’s from an indisputably great vintage, we were grilling a Flintstone-esque cowboy ribeye that night, and the price was right. And I was attracted by the decent dose of Cabernet Franc and what it might contribute to the perfume.
I tried it right after opening it, and it was a monster. Aromatically withdrawn, brooding in texture, fruit withheld and sternly tannic, my fear that this may be too young would possibly be confirmed. (I’m not expecting a fully integrated, open knit, totally expressive experience from any 2005 Bordeaux at the moment, but I found this surprisingly forbidding). However, after an hour in the decanter, it really started to bloom, serving up fragrances of luscious dark fruits, licorice, graphite and lilacs. Still dense and firm in the middle, the clamps were starting to loosen on the fruit to suggest richly concentrated cassis and mulberry. There was also some Cabernet Franc-induced green tobaaco and attractive herbaceousness. However, those tannins were still strongly in charge, although the grip was perhaps balanced by the gradually yielding aromas and flavors. After two hours in the decanter and competition from the steak, the tannins started to stretch out a bit, allowing for a more pliable texture, with a long, luscious finish.
I love it! With a little decanting and beating the wine up a bit in the glass, here’s a young Bordeaux that offers lots of pleasure right now! This is not to say that it lacks profundity – far from it. I wouldn’t hesitate to pull a bottle in five years, or even ten; it has the stuffing to not only last, but develop tremendous complexity down the line.
So, you may rightly ask why I didn’t open my big mouth (although I’m not typically known for bombast) a couple weeks ago when we had this wine on sale for $18.75 or $199 a case?! Mea culpa! Well, to right the situation, we have extended sale pricing on this baby past our anniversary sale. So, stock up now on this red Bordeaux that will reward both the patient and impatient alike. – Patrick Mitten