Category Archives: Graves

New Arrival – 2014 Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc

Last weekend we mentioned the fact that we have had several visitors from Bordeaux drop by over the past week and a half. This is an annual occurrence, as this has been the week that the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tastings of the 2014 vintage, now in bottle, take place across the continent. They started last Friday in Miami, and have now moved through Philadelphia, New York, Toronto, Chicago, and they are in Los Angeles tonight. The traveling junket arrives in our fair city tomorrow for a tasting at the Saint Francis Hotel. UGC Tastings are usually well attended affairs, and this one promises to be packed. Large crowds are not exactly my cup of tea, but I am eagerly anticipating the opportunity to taste the 2014’s now that they’re bottled.

The 2014 vintage in Bordeaux was a very good one … with very fair prices! It was a homogenous vintage, as each of Bordeaux’s appellations turned out well-balanced, classically styled wines. In the scheme of things, tasting the red wines from 2014 out of barrel was not as challenging as in some other vintages. But still, the debut of bottled 2014s promises to provide us with purple teeth and plenty of tannins tomorrow, though the tasting is not confined to red wines only. The dry whites of Pessac-Léognan will be represented; and I may be in the minority here, but out of barrel, I preferred the 2014 dry whites to their 2015 counterparts. I’ve gone on the record declaring my admiration for dry white Bordeaux on several occasions, and one of my favorite dry white producer’s 2014 wine has just landed here at TWH: Château Carbonnieux!
Like I said, the vintage was a very good one for the reds and dry whites, and Carbonnieux turned out another tempting barrel sample. I picked up some fleshy yellow fruit and melon on the nose, its palate entry was bright and zippy, with the acidity and complexity expanding mid palate. There were hints of chalky minerals present, framing a promising barrel sample. And tomorrow, I will have an updated tasting note which begins, “From bottle, UGC SF 1/27/17.” I’m excited.

I’m guessing Neal Martin has tasted this from bottle by this point, but here are his words about 2014 Carbonnieux Blanc from barrel: “The Château Carbonnieux Blanc 2014 has a pretty nose in the making: precise apple blossom and blackcurrant leaf aromas that gently waft from the glass. The palate is crisp on the entry, the acidity not as shrill as some of its peers, thus rendering it a more “languid” Pessac-Léognan. There is already a very elegant, gravelly finish that lingers in the mouth-a very promising Carbonnieux Blanc that may merit a higher score after bottling.”

Tomorrow’s tasting promises to be a great event! It’s always educational to discover how the finished wine is a couple of years after tasting its respective barrel samples. And if the young red wines get to my palate with their youthful structures, it sure is good to know that there will also be an array of high-quality dry white Bordeaux in the house! – Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under 2014 Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Leognan, Peter Zavialoff, Semillon

2010 Chateau Beauregard Ducasse And 2010 Chateau La Fleur De Jaugue

In the wine importation game, it sometimes seems nothing happens as quickly as we would like. There are things we can control, and there are things we can’t. I’ve been happily trading emails with Bordeaux negociants this week informing me that some of our wines have been picked up and will begin making their way here via refrigerated container soon. That’s great news as I am especially looking forward to a handful of fairly inexpensive Bordeaux wines I tasted this past spring during En Primeurs. Alas, those wines are several weeks away, sorry to say, so we must wait a little longer. On the other hand, what we don’t have to wait for are the six petits chateaux wines that arrived a month ago. We’ve introduced you to four of them already, and now, the other two, the 2010 Château Beauregard Ducasse, Graves and the 2010 Château La Fleur de Jaugue, St. Emilion Grand Cru.

Keep in mind the exercise here, out of 24 sample bottles provided by one of our suppliers in Bordeaux, we found six to our liking and sent the other 18 packing. Not that they were all bad, mind you. In fact, many of the wines we didn’t buy were also to our liking, but we just felt the six we chose represented the best values for the respective price points. Let’s start off with the 2010 Beauregard Ducasse. I don’t know about you all, but I’ve had a love affair with wines that say “Graves” on their label for many years. Named for the preponderance of gravelly soils throughout the region, it’s an easy appellation to grasp conceptually. If you’ve been lucky enough to taste an Haut Brion from 1985 or earlier, you would have seen “Graves” written on the label. But we’re not talking about Haut Brion here; this is a completely different animal. In 1987, several prestigious chateaux near the villages of Pessac and Léognan (and in between) broke off from the Graves AOC and formed the fancier Pessac-Léognan AOC, with Graves still representing the nebulous region further south all the way past Langon. And that’s where Château Beauregard Ducasse is, in the village of Mazères, about 25km due south of Langon in Bordeaux’s southern frontier.



A little research reveals the property has been in the Jeanduduran family since 1850, with current administrator/grower Jacques Perromat taking over in 1981, after marrying into the family. The 32 hectare vineyard consists of clay and gravel upon limestone subsoil, and is planted to Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), and Cabernet Franc (5%). The wine is all tank-fermented, and 80% is aged in tank, with the other 20% aged in barrel. This is just another example of the success of the 2010 vintage. From a price to quality standpoint, this is a Grand Slam of a deal!!! AND …. it’s also available in half bottles!

2010 Château La Fleur de Jaugue,
St. Emilion Grand Cru
First things first. The words “Grand Cru” mean different things in different French regions. It can be a bit confusing. The folks at Berry Bros. in London have the St. Emilion classification explained very well here. As they state, the consumer would be better served if these wines were labeled “St. Emilion Supérieur.” Well, Château La Fleur de Jaugue is no run-of-the-mill St. Emilion Grand Cru!!! Looking back over several vintages of Robert Parker’s tasting notes, he regularly refers to Fleur de Jaugue as “a sleeper of the vintage, a reliable and impeccably run estate,” and “a shrewd insider’s wine.” Consistent high praise for a château that many of us are not very familiar with.


Their 2010 is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc from 50 year old vines. They employ techniques one normally sees at more upscale chateaux such as de-stemming and green harvesting. Fermented seperately in concrete vats, the wine is then blended and aged for 18 months in new and 1 year old barrel. The result is astonishing. It has great weight and balance, and again, for the price, is an absolute no-brainer.
Oh yeah, then there’s this. A good friend of mine, with whom I’ve tasted a lot of Bordeaux wines over many years came in when these wines first arrived. I gave him a brief rundown on them, and he decided to try one bottle of each of them. I caught up with him a couple weeks later. The wine he couldn’t stop raving about? The 2010 Château La Fleur de Jaugue.


Another customer came in just yesterday, our write-ups printed out and in hand, he mixed up a case of these wines for himself. He pointed out how well the petits chateaux wines from 2009 and 2010 were showing, and acknowledged our efforts in weeding out the lesser performing wines and stocking great deals like these. He thanked us for “making this so easy” for him. It’s always good to hear, but that’s what we do here at TWH.
Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under 2010 Bordeaux, Bordeaux, Graves, Half bottles, Peter Zavialoff, St. Emilion

2009 Chateau Haura, Graves

Ah, what a week!! It’s always exciting rolling out our new Dirty Dozen and new Taste of Burgundy, but to get them both out in the same week is something seldom practiced. The week began with our staff abuzz about having been paid a visit by a French celebrity last Saturday. The Champions’ League continued in vastly improved fashion on Tuesday, and then there was the annual Grower Champagne tasting on Thursday! I was accompanied to that tasting by TWH intern Stefan Jakoby, who is helping us here as part of his studies of the international wine trade. His palate and ability to appraise the 60 or so Champagne samples we were poured proved a valuable experience to be sure! Believe it or not, as the day drew to a close, our staff gathered around the tasting table to taste a few other samples. A trio of close-outs yielded one winner, and then there were the newly arrived 2009 Bordeaux. 2009 Bordeaux? And taste them we did!

Again, this was a great exercise. Just like we did earlier this year, another two cases of samples were supplied by a Bordeaux negociant; over the course of a month or so, we all tasted the 24 sample bottles. How many did we decide to buy? 5. But this was months ago. That’s where things could get a little dicey. Would the wines still be to our liking? We tasted them, and retasted them, and seeing that it was after the shop closed, ahem, cough, ahem, one of us might have even been drinking their samples. 😉 The verdict: Sensational!!! The beauty of it was that all 5 were showing very well, but they were all different from each other. Again, it was great having Stefan (who was not here when we decided on these 5 wines) taste with us, his endorsement of the wines was just the icing on the cake that we were looking for. The 5 new wines range in price from $15-$35, but after tasting through them, Stefan proclaimed the 2009 Château Haura to be the best value among the quintet. Giving the matter a couple of minutes’ thought,I have to say that I agree with him, ergo I write.

Château Haura is located in the Graves appellation just south of the city of Bordeaux. Denis Dubourdieu, the famous professor of oenology at the University of Bordeaux, makes the wine, so you know the fruit is in good hands. The 2009 Château Haura has a seductive bouquet of cassis, dark purple fruit, gravely earth, and incense. On the palate, it is silky and generous, with its fruit/acid/tannin components all on the level. Or as Anya put it, “This is the Goldilocks wine … everything is juuuust right.” With 5 approved sample bottles ready to go home with staff, there wasn’t a dogfight over who got to take the Château Haura home, but Tom was the lucky one, and he was happy to report today that the wine held up nicely and was still great the next day! Okay, take all of that and put a price tag of less than 20 bucks on it, and you’ve got a winner! You’ll be hearing about the other 4 wines soon, but don’t miss out on the 2009 Château Haura! I checked inventory before I started writing and exclaimed, “Oh man, we didn’t buy enough. This is going to sell out.” My apologies in advance when it does.

So yeah, an exciting week. I wrapped things up last night out in the direction of the old hood, at the Philosopher’s Club. It was one of those rare nights of balmy, still air in the usually foggy, brisk, and breezy West Portal. Delightful conversation with wine loving friends about a great many things, but somehow Bordeaux kept working its way back into our conversations. One of the topics covered was how here at TWH, we’re a passionate bunch that enjoy getting to know our customers’ palates, giving us direction in what we recommend to you all. If you love Bordeaux like I do, don’t miss out on the 2009 Château Haura!Time flew by as it usually does, and it was time to pack it up and head on home. A delightful evening indeed, J & L, I thank you very much! Footy match tomorrow is the early one, but thankfully with technology, my viewing of it will begin at 7:30 rather than 5:30. So please, no one divulge the score! – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2009 Bordeaux, our Value Bordeaux Section, the Sunset District, or English Football:


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Filed under 2009 Bordeaux, Graves, Peter Zavialoff