Side of Blaye

Ruddy garnet, dark and impenetrable at the core, barely lightening at the edge. Fir-bough and deep cherry in the nose–not showing maraschino or Nyquil at ALL–and while YEARS from pruney, there is a touch of plump raisin to the juicy fruit. Deep wet-woody earthiness, tobacco and saddle-soap mingle with the blood-orange and wilted blackberry: EVERYWHERE the chalky grip of snow-melt rocky water. Clean and defined, showing little murky age; decanted an hour, successfully smoothing out some pent-up bottle-funk on initial pour. Perfect cork and unknown provenance in a little cru bourgeois cote from a vintage rated 96-97. It was worth a try–the price was certainly right–and so far no disappointments.

Tasting it brings more surprising pleasure. Ridiculously spicy to the edge of almost *hot*, tannin not allowing much time to savor the fruit between these two points, the big question on a wine like this is of course: Is there fruit? And if so, how much is left. Balance is crucial–and the structure is a fiery mass–but there’s fruit. GOBS of fruit. You can’t help but go back to the nose on this decision, and the buttery cinnamon and almond paste ties directly to the sweet richness of the palate, where a fat rail of chunky berry resides before the strop of inky tannin attempts to muddle it. The fruit continues long into the finish and the tannin is a controlled fire of elegance.

I think the structure WILL outlive the fruit, but it’s a tough call. I don’t think it is at peak, but another decade might be wishful thinking. There’s just so much GORGEOUSNESS packed into this little bottle–a testament to how a great year can treat even the low-lying, mass-produced appellations.

2009 CHATEAU PEYMELON ME/cab 60/40 Cru Bourgeois AOC Premieres Cotes de Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux France 14.0

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