Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A surprising discovery: or after tasting Chilean wines earlier in the day it all tastes good

Towards the end of the work day, I headed into the tasting room at work and, well, put in some work. Tasting. Champagnes, some Bordeaux, an older (85, was it?) Viader Napa Cab. Yeah, lots of the champagnes were delicious as always. Even the PJ was palateable (sorry to be lazy and infer the commonplace narrative that grand marque = bad, boring or a combination of the two). 2000 Fleury Cuvee Robert Fleury was soft, rich, open knit and welcoming. Aspasie Blanc de Blancs struck a particular chord on this day too - I usually like their wines ok but today it seemed especially full of vigor and delicious, extract packed flavor. Tasty champagnes aside, this post isn't about what I have come to expect, rather it is about surprises.

2008 Chateau Olivier Pessac Leognan Blanc. White Bordeaux. Sauvignon Blanc and semillon. 1/3 aged in new barrel. What's the big deal, here? Well, the wine simply struck me as a mouthwateringly delicious, tightly coiled young white Bordeaux, as memorable as I've had in a while. Mineral, bracing and full of a specific strain of acidity in white wine or champagne that I rarely encounter. Let's just call it, um, you know what I don't even know what to call it. It brings to mind my one Edmond Vatan Sancerre experience, Tarlant cuvee Louis, Houillon Savagnin, an eclectic mix of seemingly unrelated French white wines which I know to varying degrees, all of which however I respect greatly, due in no small part to this particular brand of intense, illuminating, yet balanced acidity. So why did this Pessac Leognan, previously unknown to me, make such a strong impression? All I know about this property is that it may be one of the very oldest in Bordeaux, with a recorded history going back to the 13th century. Maybe it's the vintage, perhaps the chateau is making some terrific wines, or maybe I had just had a long day of tasting, and any decently balanced young white wine with high acidity would have made a similar impression.

I know that $30-$40 white Bordeaux is not what many folks are looking for these days, but I would be curious if anyone out there has some experience with this estate's white wines. Anyone?