| Brevity not being my strong suit, I thought I’d give it a go today. I don’t need much space to make this point. If you like Red Bordeaux; if you like Red Bordeaux that is 10 years old that has been stored in its chateau, please lend me your ear. As a Bordeaux scout, I was delighted to discover the 2001 Château Lanessan while in Bordeaux this past April. Delighted is not the word. How about stoked? Nope. Overwhelmingly excited? Yeah, that’s it. What I’m stoked about is the fact that a container from France arrived here at TWH yesterday, and on it was the 2001 Château Lanessan!
We’ve been down this road before. I love Bordeaux. Part of my job as a Bordeaux scout is to sift through price books, kick under rocks, talk to producers and negociants, and allow for serendipitous moments of good luck. Last fall, I got lucky. We stumbled upon a crazy-good-deal, and everybody benefited. We went through over 100 cases of the 2004 Mont Perat, and friends and customers alike are still thanking me for scouting out a great drinking Bordeaux for a great price. Pssst. I’m whispering again. The 2001 Lanessan could very well be a better deal!
If you don’t know the story, again, I’ll try to be brief. The Château is a stone’s throw south of St. Julien, in the Haut-Médoc. In 1855, the château’s owner did not submit samples for the classification, thinking it “bureaucratic nonsense”. Well, that would have been like Bill Gates not taking Microsoft public. This cost the château dearly … but is not necessarily a bad thing for the claret lover. The wines from Château Lanessan have been solid, representative, great drinking wines for over a century. The best part, is absent any Cru Classification, the price has been extremely fair.
So here I am at a negociant’s office the Friday before Primeurs week this past April. Tasting some back vintages and verticals of assorted wines, I stumbled upon the 2001 Lanessan. It is classic old-school Bordeaux, not bombastic, not full of splinters, but what I would describe as classic claret. 10 years in the bottle and it is now revealing those lovely secondary characteristics that one finds in aged Bordeaux. On the nose I got cassis-like fruit and a smoky, earthy, leathery terroir-driven sensation. On the palate, it is a medium bodied Cabernet Sauvignon blend with impressive balance and structure. It’s fresh and lively, showing tobacco leaf, forest floor and plenty of fruit, but the show didn’t stop with that. Those wonderful secondary characteristics are beginning to reveal themselves, adding to the already complex mouthfeel. The finish is bright and fresh with fine tannins latching on to the lively acidity, taking its time to fade away. The negociant looked at me. I looked back. He told me the price. My eyes nearly popped out. I nodded. He nodded.
My colleagues here have been hearing about this wine ever since. What a glorious day yesterday was. After nearly 6 months of waiting, it’s here! As I said, if you like Red Bordeaux, especially if you like it with a little bottle age, you should try the 2001 Lanessan. The sooner the better. It won’t be around long. – Peter Zavialoff