January 03, 2010

Old Bordeaux

I got into Bordeaux back when I first really got into wine in 1991. Maybe that stemmed from a visit I took to St. Emilion in October 1989 with my then girlfriend while we were both studying abroad. Here I was in California but all I could think about was that day trip to St. Emilion two years earlier, walking from the train station up the road to the hilltop town, past what I now know was the famed Ch. Ausone. We toured at least one cellar in town and otherwise spent an idyllic day wandering the streets and shops, eating and enjoying the view. I remember buying a three-pack of bottles to bring back to London. Who knows what they were, aside from not being anything expensive.

Over the years I've fallen out of love with Bordeaux. The wines can be excellent, of course. There's no question about that. It's the whole aristocratic noblesse of Bordeaux that just isn't me. (Modern Bordeaux often leaves me cold, but that's another story.) Where Bordeaux is all about big business and big production, I'm more into the smaller scale wine scene in so many other regions in Europe. Here in the U.S., it's no surprise I'm more into the small scale of Oregon vs. the largesse of Napa Valley. Prices play a factor to, but it's more than that. Exceptions abound. Generall, I just find I typically enjoy wines more from smaller producers.

That said, I still enjoy good Bordeaux on occasion. I even enjoy lesser Bordeaux that won't wow anybody but make me reflect on what originally got me interested in the region so long ago. Take the 1983 Ch. Fourcas Hosten from Listrac that we opened the other night. This is non-classified stuff, nothing fancy, just old school cabernet-dominated wine from the under the radar 1983 vintage. Back when 1982 was all the rage stateside, making Robert Parker's reputation and sending prices soaring, 1983 came in successfully but without such ebullient praise.

The '83 Fourcas Hosten is now a bit long in the tooth. Still, I found its old book aroma and silky texture surprisingly pleasing, pairing nicely with a simple broiled steak and cornbread. It didn't have much varietal character, just satisfying if frail old wine Reading professional notes on this wine, you'd think it was long dead. Not at all. Neither I suppose is my interest in Bordeaux. Good, because I have more than a few bottles from there downstairs. They probably should make their way to our table this coming year.

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