A Fun Take on Cabernet Franc

Today’s Story: Ryme Cellars

Ryme Cellars was established in 2007 by husband and wife team Ryan and Megan Glaab. Ryan and Megan met while both working harvest at Torbreck Winery in Australia, and since then between the two of them they’ve held positions at Pax Wine Cellars, Peay Vineyards, Sine Qua Non, and Marcassin. Ryan and Megan started Ryme with one ton of Aglianico, later expanding into Vermentino, Ribolla Gialla, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Most recently they even added Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to the portfolio. The Ryme wines are those that Ryan and Megan like drinking, both by variety and style standards. Their fruit comes from sustainably- or organically-farmed vineyards, and winemaking is rather simple without cultured yeasts, temperature control, or added enzymes. Most of the reds ferment whole cluster while most of the whites ferment on the skins, and aging occurs in used French oak barriques before bottling unfined and unfiltered.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Alegria Vineyard Cabernet Franc

100% Cabernet Franc; 12.5% ABV

The 2017 Alegria Vineyard Cabernet Franc is medium to deep ruby in color. Given some time to open up in the glass, the wine showcases aromas of medium (+) intensity including black cherry, redcurrant, blackberry, plum, violet, pine, mild cedar, and cocoa powder. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium (+) intensity, with the palate displaying notes of cherry, black raspberry, blueberry, plum, licorice, sweet tobacco, dried green herbs, and gravel. This dry red is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) and dusty tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium length finish.

Price: $27. I think this offers pretty solid value given the balance, intensity, and complexity that evolved in the glass. While it could have a longer finish to drive it home, there’s too much good here for the price level.

California Rosé of a Unique Blend

Today’s Story: Arnot-Roberts

Arnot-Roberts is a boutique winery established in 2001 by Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts, two childhood friends who grew up together in Napa Valley. After college, Nathan started working with his father as a cooper of oak wine barrels while Duncan pursued winemaking throughout Napa and Sonoma counties. Arnot-Roberts began with a single barrel of wine the duo produced in their basement and over time grew through the purchase of fruit from renowned vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, El Dorado, and Amador counties as well as the Santa Cruz Mountains. When selecting vineyards, Arnot-Roberts makes sure the farmers are both “passionate and conscientious” because their goal is to produce small quantities of honest, terroir-driven, and single-vineyard wines which truly express their unique place. The winemaking style is a mix of Old World and New World, with use of indigenous fermentation, little or no new oak, and often whole cluster.

I previously reviewed the 2016 Que Syrah Vineyard, 2018 North Coast Trousseau, 2018 Watson Ranch Chardonnay, and 2016 Vare Vineyard Ribolla Gialla from Arnot-Roberts.

Today’s Wine: 2020 Rosé

68% Touriga Nacional, 16% Gamay Noir, 11% Cabernet Franc, 5% Grenache; 11% ABV

The 2020 Rosé is pale copper in color with hues of pale salmon. The nose seems somewhat muted and aromas are of medium (-) intensity, showcasing notes of cantaloupe, white strawberry, raspberry, bubble gum, cured meat, and chalky mineral. Meanwhile the flavors are of medium intensity and the palate displays notes of white cherry, raspberry, watermelon, orange rind, bubble gum, and saline. This dry rosé is light- to medium-bodied with medium acidity, low alcohol, and a medium-length finish. Fun to try given the blend, but this is lacking in intensity and length I was hoping for.

Price: $30 (but you should be able to find this around $25 in some locations). I can’t call this wine a good value, especially since I paid slightly more than the average $30 price-tag online. It’s lacking in intensity, complexity, and length which is somewhat disappointing given the Arnot-Roberts wines I’ve enjoyed in the past. Having enjoyed the Triennes rosé the other day at half the price, I find this a tough sell for me personally albeit it’s fun to try nonetheless given the blend.

Beautiful Representation of Cabernet Franc From an Outstanding Loire Valley Producer

Today’s Story: Domaine Bernard Baudry

Domaine Bernard Baudry was established in 1975 by Bernard Baudry in the village of Cravant-les-Coteaux within the Chinon AOC of France’s Loire Valley. Bernard began with 2 hectares (5 acres) of vines though he grew his domain to 32 hectares (79 acres) of vineyards over time. Bernard’s vineyards are planted to about 90% Cabernet Franc and 10% Chenin Blanc, and their soil types vary greatly across gravel, limestone clay, and sandy limestone throughout the Chinon AOC. Though the vineyards have always been maintained without chemical weed killers, all viticulture has been entirely organic since 2006. Winemaking is meant to be minimally invasive, which begins with manual harvest and gravity-fed movements in the cellar. All plots are harvested and vinified separately, following native yeast fermentation with no adjustments or additions. Some wines age in cement vats and others in oak barrels (when they want more structure) before most are bottled unfiltered. The rosé, white wines, and Les Granges are filtered for bottling. Remaining a family venture, Bernard’s son Matthieu joined in 2000 and largely leads winemaking today.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Le Clos Guillot

100% Cabernet Franc; 13% ABV

The 2017 Le Clos Guillot is deep purple in color and opaque. I decanted this for about an hour, which really helps to bring out some of the more nuanced notes at this stage. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, with the nose showcasing aromas of blackberry, plum, black raspberry, cigar box, green bell pepper, tomato, leather, pencil shavings, wet gravel, and crushed rock. Meanwhile the flavors are of medium (+) intensity, with the palate displaying notes of black cherry, blackberry, red plum, black tea leaf, dried underbrush, green bell pepper, mushroom, and crushed gravel. This dry red is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) but fine-grained tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $35. I think this is a very solid value wine, though it won’t be for everyone. The quality is incredibly high and the complexity at such a young age is great. The only reason I say it might not be for everyone is it’s incredibly terroir-driven and those classic Cab Franc bell pepper and green notes are there that can sometimes turn people away.

Historic Pomerol Estate Showcasing the Promise of the Underrated 2014 Vintage

Today’s Story: Château L’Évangile

Château L’Évangile is a historic Bordeaux wine estate located in the appellation of Pomerol on the Right Bank of Bordeaux. L’Évangile traces its roots back to the year 1741 when it first popped up in the land registry under the name Fazilleau, and it was owned by the Léglise family from Libourne. By the turn of the 19th century, the estate was fairly close to its current configuration and consisted of 13 hectares (32 acres) of vineyards. In 1862, Paul Chaperon purchased L’Évangile (as it was known by this time) and he built the reputation of the estate to greater heights and constructed the château in 1874. By 1900, L’Évangile was widely considered the third-best wine of Pomerol behind Vieux Château Certan and Château Pétrus. Chaperon’s descendants, the powerful Ducasse family, continued to run the estate until 1990 when it was purchased by Domaines Barons de Rothschild who own Château Lafite Rothschild on the Left Bank amongst other highly-regarded properties.

Today Château L’Évangile consists of 22 hectares of vineyards planted in prime sandy clay and gravel soils on the plateau of Pomerol. The property borders Château Pétrus to the north and Château Cheval Blanc to the south, so one can say they are in good company. L’Évangile’s vineyards are planted to about 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, though there is now a small plot of Cabernet Sauvignon that was blended into the wine for the first time in 2019. The vines at L’Évangile average about 30 years of age, and the estate started shifting to organic viticulture in 2018 before ultimately becoming certified organic in 2021.

In the cellar, all plots are vinified separately in vats with traditional pump overs and controlled maceration. The goal by the end of fermentation is to try to determine which plots/vats ultimately make it into the Grand Vin and which may end up in the second wine called Blason de L’Évangile. The Grand Vin ages for 18 months in 70% new French oak barrels, and total production of the Grand Vin and Blason de L’Évangile averages about 5,000 cases per vintage.

Today’s Wine: 2014 Château L’Évangile

82% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc; 14% ABV

The 2014 Château L’Évangile is deep ruby in color. Given my first taste and a check-in after 2 hours, I decided to decant this for a full 4-5 hours as it was rather shy. Once it opens up, the aromas are of medium intensity and the nose showcases notes of black cherry, spiced plum, cigar box, new leather, black truffle, clay, cinnamon, and toasted oak. The flavors are also of medium intensity, and the palate displays notes of blackberry, cassis, plum, black licorice, tobacco, scorched earth, sage, chocolate, and oaky spice. This dry red is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) but refined tannins, high alcohol, and a long finish.

Price: $160 (I paid $143). On a relative basis, this wine offers considerable value compared to stronger vintages like 2015 and 2016 which for this bottling are priced closer to the $260-300 range. This wine also shows incredible promise for the future, as I think it needs probably 3-5 more years of cellaring and should drink well for a couple decades beyond that.

Another Solid Value From the 2014 Vintage in Bordeaux

Today’s Story: Château La Conseillante

Château La Conseillante is a historical family-owned wine estate located in the Pomerol appellation on the Right Bank of Bordeaux. The estate traces its roots back to the mid-18th century under the management of Catherine Conseillan where it gets its name, and they produced wines at least as early as 1756 which makes Conseillante one of the oldest estates in Pomerol. Though ownership changed hands a couple times after the passing of Catherine Conseillan, the Nicolas family purchased the estate in 1871 and they run it to this day now in their fifth generation. The original label on the wines dates back to 1871 as well, and it showcases the iconic shield and silver border of the estate. The purple capsule even dates to 1871, when it was chosen to represent the color of the wine, aromas (namely violet) often found in the wine, and so the bottles would stand out in cellars.

Château La Conseillante consists of 12 hectares (30 acres), the same size as when the Nicolas family purchased it, and the vineyards are planted to about 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. Though these vines are in a single vineyard block, they are broken up into 18 different parcels which are vinified separately in the modern winery. All fruit is harvested by hand from yield-controlled vines and then rigorously sorted to ensure only the highest quality fruit makes it into the winery. Once in vats, the fruit goes through cold pre-fermentation maceration for two to four days and then alcoholic fermentation for about a week and one to two weeks of maceration. Free-run wine is run off and any remaining fruit is gently pressed separately to produce “press wine” that is aged separately and only included in the final blend if of utmost quality standards. The Grand Vin ages in 50-80% new oak barrels depending on vintage and this typically lasts around 18 months. The wine is then bottled fined with egg whites but unfiltered.

In addition to the Grand Vin, Château La Conseillante released a second wine called Duo de Conseillante beginning with the 2007 vintage. Total production is about 4,500 cases of wine per vintage, with about 80% of that being the Grand Vin. To explore the estate further, you can visit their website here.

Today’s Wine: 2014 Château La Conseillante

78% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc; 13% ABV

The 2014 Château La Conseillante is deep ruby in color with hues of deep garnet. I decanted this for 3-4 hours which seemed to put it in a good spot at this point in its life. The aromas are of medium intensity but the nose is fairly complex, showcasing aromas of blackcurrant, black plum, black cherry, violet, cigar box, a hint of black truffle, grilled herbs, pepper, and a touch of oaky spice. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium intensity and the palate displays notes of plum, crème de cassis, black cherry, anise, tobacco, dried green herbs, coffee grounds, and chocolate. This dry red is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) but silky tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $125 (I paid $107). While not the greatest 2014 Pomerol I’ve tried so far, this is certainly a solid value wine for Bordeaux. The “good not great” 2014 vintage proves once again that it deserves attention and considering the 2015 and 2016 vintages of this wine sell for closer to $200 and $250, respectively, this 2014 is certainly worth trying.

Complex Loire Valley Cabernet Franc That Continues to Impress

Today’s Story: Domaine des Roches Neuves

Domaine des Roches Neuves was founded in 1992 by Thierry Germain following his move to the Loire Valley from his native Bordeaux. At 23 years old, Thierry soon met Charly Foucault from Clos Rougeard who would become an inspiration behind some of his winemaking practices. Thierry converted his domain to biodynamic viticulture, as well as being certified organic, in an effort to let his vines guide him rather than play a heavier hand that removes truth and transparency from terroir to bottle. This practice helps Thierry’s wines showcase vibrant ripe fruits (thanks in addition to relatively early harvesting) with incredible purity while avoiding rustic vegetal notes. Also, his red wines do not typically have high tannin but rather integrated, soft tannins conducive to drinkability.

When harvesting his fruit, Thierry practices very traditional methods such as hand harvesting and hand sorting at the winery. Further, all of his wines are fermented with natural yeasts in no new oak barrels or tanks. For the wine I am reviewing today, grapes are 100% de-stemmed and fermented in conical tanks. There is a great overview of Thierry’s history and practices here, as well as an overview of his wine portfolio. The domaine’s website also contains fact sheets and an overview of the history and people here.

I reviewed the 2015 Les Mémoires way back in early November 2019, and given the positive experience I decided to check in on the 2016 vintage today.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Les Mémoires

100% Cabernet Franc; 12.5% ABV

The 2016 Les Mémoires is deep ruby in color. I used my Coravin to pour a glass on night one but pulled the cork the following night, allowing this to open up in the glass over time. The aromas are of medium intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of black raspberry, blackcurrant, green bell pepper, violets, cigar box, gravel, scorched earth, wild herbs, and stony mineral. Flavors are also of medium intensity, and the palate displays notes of strawberry, raspberry, brambleberry, tobacco, cracked pepper, grilled green herbs, a hint of chocolate, and crushed rock minerality. This dry red is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) but refined tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Fruit for this wine comes from vines planted in 1904, which I think greatly adds to the complexity at such a young age. Given 3-5 more years in the cellar, this will only become more impressive and drink well for probably 5-10 years after that.

Price: $65 (less expensive in Europe). Though not inexpensive, I think this offers very solid value. The quality is incredibly high, while the balance, complexity, and power in this wine greatly impress me. Certainly my favorite Loire Valley red I’ve had up to this point, perhaps sharing the stage with the 2015 vintage of the same wine.

Exquisite Loire Valley Cabernet Franc

Today’s Story: Domaine de la Chevalerie

Domaine de la Chevalerie is a small family-owned estate and winery established in 1640 by the Caslot family. Located in the village of Restigné within the Loire Valley, the domain consists of about 33 hectares of vineyards planted entirely to Cabernet Franc. A true family affair, the domain is run by siblings Stéphanie and Emmanuel who joined their father Pierre in the early 2000s. Pierre’s first task he set upon his children was to convert the entire domain to organic viticulture and winemaking, which they received certification for in 2008. By 2012, the domain transitioned entirely to biodynamics and received the Demeter certification. Though Pierre unfortunately passed away in 2014, Stéphanie and Emmanuel carry on the legacy aided by their younger sister Laurie who joined in 2018.

In their goal to produce terroir-driven wines that showcase a true sense of place, the Caslot family goes further than biodynamics alone and practices a minimally invasive winemaking style. All fruit is hand-harvested into small baskets before being sorted, destemmed, and sorted again. The grapes are not crushed, but instead transfer into vat by gravity to begin fermentation with only indigenous yeasts. After fermentation, the wines move to demi-muids and large 400 to 500 liter neutral barrels for aging. They add minimal SO2 and generally bottle the wines unfined and unfiltered.

To explore the family’s vineyard holdings, portfolio of wines, or read more I recommend visiting their website here.

Today’s Wine: 2014 Bourgueil Galichets

100% Cabernet Franc; 13% ABV

The 2014 Bourgueil Galichets is medium ruby in color and nearly opaque. This is an absolutely gorgeous wine out of the bottle, but really needs 45 minutes to an hour of decanting to truly open up and shine. On the nose, I get pronounced aromas of redcurrant, bing cherry, strawberry, black raspberry, slight barnyard, tilled earth, crushed rock, mild chili pepper, and dried underbrush. Meanwhile the palate showcases notes of crunchy cranberry, stemmy strawberry, raspberry, cigar tobacco, scorched earth, gravel, charred bell pepper, and crushed rock minerality. This dry red is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, fine-grained medium (+) tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $30 (might be able to find this closer to $25). This is an outstanding bottle of wine, particularly given its price-point, balance, and complexity. A very solid value play here, and definitely worth seeking out.

Luxe Napa Red Atop Pritchard Hill

Today’s Story: Ovid Napa Valley

Ovid Napa Valley is a “cult” winery established in 2000 by husband and wife Mark Nelson and Dana Johnson, and 2005 was their inaugural vintage. Situated at 1,400 feet elevation on secluded Pritchard Hill, Ovid consists of a 15 acre vineyard planted largely to Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, though it includes plots of Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Syrah as well. Ovid practices organic viticulture and the vineyard is broken into one-acre blocks with various rootstocks and clones to allow for an experimental philosophy of winemaking. Winemaker Austin Peterson has been with Ovid since 2006, and he enjoys utilizing both traditional and cutting edge winemaking techniques to produce wines with a sense of place. The Ovid winery utilizes gravity flow to minimize handling of the wines, and fermentation is accomplished using only native yeasts before the wines age and transfer to bottle unfined and unfiltered.

Ovid remains steadfast in their support of sustainable practices in the vineyards and the winery, keeping bees, using cover crops, and using their own compost to avoid inhibiting natural biodiversity. They also placed owl boxes, bluebird boxes, and an insectary garden on the property to facilitate a more natural form of pest control. Ovid even maintains a fruit and nut orchard where they grow cherries, plums, pluots, peaches, pomegranates, and persimmons which are then allocated to Napa restaurants including The French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood (which unfortunately burned down in 2020). The winery itself is powered by solar energy and built of wood, stone, and concrete which blends effortlessly into the mountainous surroundings.

In terms of production, Ovid crafts four main wines which include their signature Ovid Napa Valley (Cabernet Sauvignon dominant), Hexameter (Cabernet Franc dominant), Loc. Cit. (100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the best plots only in the best vintages), and Syrah. As special as the main Ovid wines are, they also release highly limited quantities of Experiment bottlings which change vintage to vintage to showcase the unique blends, varieties, winemaking styles, and terroir Peterson has to play with. Total production is said to be between 1,000 and 1,200 cases per vintage, with roughly 85% of that going direct to customers on the membership list.

To learn more about Ovid and their wines, view pictures of the beautiful winery, or find the source for much of today’s information above, visit the Ovid website here.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Hexameter

65% Cabernet Franc, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot; 14.8% ABV

The 2015 Hexameter is opaque deep ruby in color, still certainly showcasing its youth. I decanted this for four hours, which I think it needed, guiding the nose into expressive aromas of blackberry, black cherry, blackcurrant, redcurrant, tobacco, green peppercorn, graphite, vanilla, and oak. On the palate, I get notes of black cherry, blackberry, spiced plum, blueberry, orange peel, violets, tobacco, cola, pencil shavings, graphite, and toasted oak. There’s a peppery and herbal characteristic to this wine that really showcases the Cabernet Franc well. This is full-bodied with high acidity, fine-grained medium (+) tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $310. This is an incredibly delicious wine, though it is very young at this stage and I don’t think it offers great QPR. You could lob $100 off this price and I think that would be much fairer, though I am sure this will grow into an absolute showstopper with more cellaring.

Over-Extracted Red Blend From Alexander Valley

Today’s Story: Captûre Wines

Captûre Wines is a boutique estate established in 2008 in what is now the Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak AVA within Sonoma County. Though now part of Jackson Family Wines, Captûre was established by Carol and Michael Foster with founding winemakers May-Britt and husband Denis Malbec (formerly of Château Latour). With a goal of marrying rugged, mountainous California frontier with French winemaking, the team settled upon Pine Mountain with their estate vineyard between 1,600 and 2,500 feet elevation in the Mayacamas Mountains. The brutal landscape which makes up the Tin Cross Vineyard consists of volcanic gravelly soil, originally planted to vine by homesteaders in 1855 and today consisting largely of Cabernet Sauvignon with small blocks of Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. Following sustainable and organic farming practices, Captûre receives only about 2 tons of fruit per acre due to the harsh geography of their estate, in turn which produces highly concentrated and intense mountain fruit. Since 2015, winemaker Sam Teakle took over and he crafts wines from the Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, and Lake County appellations.

Today’s Wine: 2013 Harmonie

85% Cabernet Franc, 9% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon; 15% ABV

The 2013 Harmonie is opaque deep purple/ruby in color. I decanted this for 2 hours and drank it over the following 3 hours or so, and unfortunately this got worse with air versus the better I was hoping for. The nose is highly concentrated with aromas of blackberry, plum, blueberry, crème de cassis, licorice, cigar box, clay, baking spice, bell pepper, and oak. There’s some heat there too from the high ABV. Moving onto the palate, I get notes of black plum, blackberry compote, wet tobacco, coffee, chocolate, blood, sopping wet herbs, and ground black pepper. This thing drinks like a cocktail wine. It is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, high tannins, and a medium (+) length finish that is somewhat repulsive. Balance seems to be out of whack here too. 180 cases produced.

Price: $60 (I paid $40 on sale). I really wanted to like this wine, which was made by the late Denis Malbec (whose wines at Blankiet I love), but I do not. It is filled to the brim with over-extracted fruit and what I speculate may be a heavy-handed winemaking mandate. You should lose no sleep over passing on this wine.

Great Value From a Historic Bordeaux 2nd Wine

Today’s Story: Château La Mission Haut-Brion

Château La Mission Haut-Brion is a highly regarded Bordeaux wine estate with history dating back to 1540. That year, merchant Arnaud de Lestonnac purchased the land that would become La Mission Haut-Brion and he married Marie, sister of Jean de Pontac of neighboring Château Haut-Brion. By the time of his death in 1548, the estate produced great wines and management fell to his son Pierre who set about enhancing the reputation further. A century later, in 1682, Pierre’s daughter Olive de Lestonnac (who had devoted her life to charitable works and had no children) gifted the estate by annuity in her will to the Lazarists of Bordeaux and La Mission became property of the Catholic Church.

The Lazarists quickly set about developing the vineyards further, with great emphasis on improving farming practices, quality of the wines, and reputation. By the early 1700s, La Mission produced 24 barrels of wine annually and, by the mid 1700s, became recognized by French nobility for the immense quality of these wines. The incredible improvement and quality under the Lazarists shifted hands, however, in 1792 when the property was confiscated by the state during the French Revolution. Businessman Martial-Victor Vaillant purchased the estate in auction, however his family’s ownership was short-lived when his daughter sold it to Célestin Coudrin-Chiapella in 1821. As its first American owner, Chiapella continued to improve La Mission and set about retiring there one day. Having come from New Orleans, the family also stressed the importance of trade and Old World/New World ties which catapulted the estate to high regard throughout France, the UK, and the US.

Château La Mission Haut-Brion shifted ownership again in 1919 when Frédéric Otto Woltner, another Bordeaux merchant, purchased it. The Woltner family helped bring the estate into the modern era, in part by implementing the use of stainless steel vats to better control fermentation and, since 1927, producing a white wine. Frédéric passed away in 1933 and passed the estate to his three children, with Henri leading management. During WWII, the family was forced to house German officers at the château but miraculously kept them from raiding the cellars by demanding respect from their “guests.” Following the war, the Woltner family regained complete control until Henri passed away in 1974.

With La Mission up for sale yet again in 1983, Domaine Clarence Dillon came in and purchased the estate through a very natural transition. The Dillon family immediately started improving the estate even further, beginning in the vineyards and progressing through renovations to construction of new buildings and cellars. Though the estate has lived through a somewhat tumultuous history due to ownership changes and wars, they released highly revered wines over the centuries known for quality and consistency that is largely unmatched anywhere in the world.

Château La Mission Haut-Brion consists of 29 hectares of vineyards in the Pessac-Léognan appellation. Situated on an elevated gravel terrace, the soil of La Mission is particularly suited for growing wine grapes with a subsoil of clay, sand, and limestone. Of the 29 hectares, 25 are planted to red varieties of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc; the remaining 4 hectares are planted to white varieties of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. All fruit is harvested by hand and sorted before fermentation in steel vats. After two weeks, the wines are drained and transferred to new oak barrels for 20-24 months before ultimately moving to bottle and aging further.

To learn more about this great estate, run through their wines over the years, or view images, I encourage you to visit the website here (also the source of the information above).

Today’s Wine: 2014 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion

45% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Franc, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon; 14% ABV

The 2014 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion is opaque deep ruby in color. I gave this about 3 hours to open up, and the nose showcases aromas of plum, blackcurrant, violet, tobacco, gravel, truffle, dried underbrush, pepper, and cedar. Once in the mouth, the wine displays notes of blackcurrant, black raspberry, fig, cigar box, smoke, forest floor, crushed rock, and bell pepper. The Cabernet Franc is quite evident in this one. The wine is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, fine grained medium tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $65. I think this is one of the better value Bordeaux wines, particularly for the second wine of an estate with as high stature as Château La Mission Haut-Brion. Coupled with the fact the 2014 vintage can be often overlooked, this is a very nice wine for its cost.