Slow Down With 2009 Chateau Lagrange

Seriously, where does the time go? I picked up the phone yesterday afternoon and assisted an east coast customer who was sending one bottle gifts to several business associates all over the country. Since we were pushing the UPS deadline to begin with, I initially decided that we could wait until next week to ship them. Then it dawned on me, if we ship them on Monday, the east coast customers will get them the following Monday, right? Wrong. No shipping on Memorial Day. Yes, it’s that close. We shipped them yesterday, so no problem there; but what’s up with it being Memorial Day already? How does one slow down the clock? I’ve done a significant amount of research on the subject, but I’ll spare you all the boring parts and just say that one way to slow down time is to have a glass of something rich and complex that is meant to be savored and enjoyed over a long period of time. And if you’re really serious about making time crawl, try cellaring a few bottles of said wine, knowing that you are not to open the next one for x-amount of years. Where am I going? Why 2009 Bordeaux, of course. In particular, 2009 Château Lagrange.

I was once told that my ability to remember so many vivid details about my past was “not healthy”, but I do remember my first moment with Château Lagrange. I was a budding Bordeaux lover weaning myself from fancy Napa Valley wines. I was already building a vertical of Château Gruaud Larose, and it was becoming obvious that St. Julien was my favorite appellation. I was in one of my favorite warehouse-style shops listening to a couple of “pros” talk about Bordeaux. One of them went on and on about Lagrange, a château I had yet to try. Well, not until that evening anyway. The verdict? It made complete sense to me that I liked it. Well sure, it was the 1990 which was a pretty well-received wine. But I also discovered that the property was located just behind Gruaud Larose on the gravelly plateau of St. Julien. I was learning about the concept of terroir. 

 

Lagrange was given Third Growth status in the famous 1855 classification. But just like so many other châteaux, has endured many ups and downs since. They have been on a roll since the mid 1980’s, causing Robert Parker to report in 1991 that, “this wine currently remains considerably underpriced given the quality level of the wines (sic) that is now emerging.” I went back to the well several times, and I have to say that I’ve enjoyed every vintage of Lagrange I’ve tasted. When I tasted the 2009 out of barrel back in April 2010, I found it rich and intense, yet with expressive, perfumy aromatics. Two years later, from bottle, it was among my favorites of the tasting. Expressive dark red fruit and forest floor dominated the aromas, the palate was rich and deep, my notes continue, “Big profile, great wine, cellar, wow.” Oh yeah, those squiggly lines that only appear next to outstanding wines are on both sides of this note.

Robert Parker had this to say about it, “A slightly lighter, less powerful style of St. Julien, but also less oaky than previous vintages have tended to be, the 2009 Lagrange offers attractive, fresh, red and black currant notes, and an elegant as well as corpulent attack and mid-palate. This wine does not have the weight of the “big boys” of St. Julien, but it displays an endearing finesse, freshness, and purity.”

But it was The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin who said this: “The Lagrange 2009 has an earthy, slightly introverted nose at the moment although it opens ajar with aeration with hints of lavender and crushed flower. The palate is medium-bodied with a fresh, citrus entry, great delineation and a wonderful build of flavours on the mouth, a subtle crescendo as it were. This is so very refined and classy. 95 points”

This is special wine. It’s not for pizza nor for Tuesday nights. It’s special. So here’s the strategy: it will most likely hit its ideal drinking window in approximately 6 or 7 years, and will last for at least another 20. If you pop a bottle now, give it some time to breathe. In the glass or in a decanter, either way will give it some air. Savor it and enjoy it for as long as you can. Sock a bottle or two in the cellar and wait patiently for them to hit that magic window. That’ll keep time from flying by too quickly!

It’s been an action-packed week around here. Daniel Hecquet and his wife, Catherine popped in to visit us. We’re preparing our first offering of 2012 Bordeaux futures, and for one more week, the Chelsea Blues are holders of both European titles. But unfortunately, footy season ends tomorrow. That too will cause time to slow down. – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Château Lagrange, St. Julien, the holders of both European titles, or 2012 Bordeaux futures: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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Filed under 2009 Bordeaux, Peter Zavialoff, St. Julien

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