2009 Bordeaux Futures: Chateau La Tour de By

tour de byIt went by like a flash, and it’s still soaking in, but I was happy and proud to represent The Wine House at this year’s En Primeur tastings in Bordeaux. The vintage had received much attention and praise before I even got near an airplane, so I contemplated the exact purpose of my tasting the wines in the first place. After all, it seemed pretty clear that the Cru Classe wines were going to show well. But after much thought, and some Facebook interactions, I realized what a privilege it was to have first-hand knowledge of how these wines would show during their unveiling.

A philosophy that has resonated with me during my wine drinking life is that many high-quality wines cost more than they are worth simply because they are well known by many people, and therefore, can get away with it. Early on here, a customer once told me that being in the wine business gives one the knowledge to drink better wine for less money. I’m not going to take that hook, line, and sinker, but there is a modicum of truth there. So, I’ll tell you all that the critics are already, and will continue to gush over the likes of Palmer, Ducru Beaucaillou, Ausone, and Latour. I probably could have told you that without leaving California. The purpose of going to Bordeaux and getting first-hand knowledge of how the wines are showing, was to spot the high quality wines that will fly under the radar and be offered at prices where they can actually be enjoyed by Bordeaux drinkers rather than need to be locked up in a vault! And guess what? I found a bunch! As they become available, we will let you know which wines were particular stand-outs.

negoceIt all started on the Friday before En Primeur week. I took the tram up to one of our negociant’s offices for a 9:00 AM appointment. I met with several people while there, and was asked if I wanted to start tasting. Funny thing was, I hadn’t thought about that. As I said at the time, I wasn’t prepared to start tasting just yet, but asked if it would be alright to come back after lunch for the tastings. No problem. Then I was off to find an internet cafe (not so easy anymore, with wifi everywhere). I made it back after lunch and plunged head first into this room here and began. I was there for over 4 hours and tasted with several members of the negociant’s staff. This was where I was able to taste many of the lesser known, petits chateaux. The majority of left bank wines showed incredible structure, with pure fruit, vibrant acidity, and silky tannins. There were some real standouts, and the first one we’ll mention here is Medoc property La Tour de By. Located a few kilometers north of St. Estephe in the town of Begadan, the vines sit on gravelly ridges near the Gironde. In David Peppercorn’s book, Bordeaux, he writes, “This is today one of the best wines of the Medoc and fetches one of the top prices.” Well like I said earlier, I was pretty focused on finding top quality that may fly under the radar, and when I tasted La Tour de By, I was impressed. The aromatics were full of pure fruit, a hint of herbs, and that distinct Bordeaux terroir character. My notes continue: “Rich fruit, herbal, earthy, elegant quality; much to like. Finish of black cherries and rocks; nicely structured, well balanced.” (I was asked on this trip if I ever transfer my tasting notes to a computer. I don’t. See, the way they’re written is very important too.) Oh yeah, and the word “LIVE” is written in all caps, underlined, with an arrow pointing to the chateau’s name. It was most impressive; and when pricing was released, I was astonished at how reasonable it was. I am not alone here, erobertparker.com‘s Neal Martin, had some nice things to say as well. I’ll list them below.

This is our first wine of the 2009 campaign, and it epitomizes what we believe to be a huge value for the Bordeaux lover. This wine will be at its best with 5-10 years of cellaring, but something very noticeable about the vintage as a whole, is the purity of fruit that led me to conclude most of these wines will be consumed too soon! We anticipate the majority of the best known chateaux to release their pricing in May 2010. We will keep you all posted. – Peter Zavialoff 

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

 

 

erobertparker.com‘s Neal Martin had this to say:
2009 Chateau La Tour de By 90-92
Tasted at Vintex. This Tour de By shows great clarity and definition on the nose with ebullient red-berried fruit, cedar and a touch of tobacco. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins, very well balanced with good acidity, clean black fruit laced with a touch of cedar, leading to a well defined, classy finish. The usual, slightly under-ripe Tour de By has turned in a winner in 2009. Tasted March 2010.
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Filed under 2009 Bordeaux, Bordeaux, Peter Zavialoff

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