The edges of ferrous power here are tamed on a supple texture, though the choice seems to have been to trade some freshness for that textural grace. The tannins have the potent austerity that grows out of Latour’s deep hill of stones.
Producer: Chateau Latour
Country Hierarchy: Medoc, Bordeaux, France
Grape/Blend: Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot
Food Suggestion: Beef and Venison
Wine Style: Red – Savory and Classic
Alcohol Content: 12.5 – 14.4%
Awards: Le Guide Hachette des Vins, 2008: 2 Stars
Notes: First Growth. Premier Grand Cru Classe in 1855.
Pauillac, a commune located between Saint-Estèphe and Saint-Julien on Bordeaux’s Médocpeninsula, is home to some of the world’s most famous and expensive red wines wines, made predominantly from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety, which is well suited to the free-draining gravel soils found in Pauillac’s vineyards. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Carmenère, Petit Verdot and Malbec are also permitted for use under the Pauillac appellation laws.
The stellar reputation of Pauillac wines is based not only on their quality, but on their success in international fine wine markets. Three of the top five châteaux in the 1855 Médoc Classification (a ranking of Bordeaux’s best wine-producing properties) are located here; Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild and Château Latour. (© Wine-Searcher)
The vineyard-lined road to Pauillac (left picture) (©CIVB/Haut-Relief)
Overall, the terroir of Pauillac varies more than might be expected in an area of only 23 square kilometers (9 square miles), where the land near the banks of the Gironde estuary with the best vineyard sites rises and falls by a maximum of 30 meters (100ft). Over hundreds of vintages, the châteaux and their winemakers have become very skilled at emphasizing the individuality of their vineyards, and there is general agreement that the styles of the top three châteaux are discernibly different. Overall, however, there is still an identifiable Pauillac wine style: full, rich, and characterized by the classic cassis-and-cedarwood aromas of oak-aged Cabernet Sauvignon.
The appellation laws for Pauillac specify that all land within the Pauillac commune boundaries qualifies for the title, unless composed of sandy, alluvial or impermeable soils. Certain plots in neighboring Saint-Julien and Saint-Estèphe also qualify for the title, as do a handful in Cissac and Saint-Saveur.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot wines are made from two of the world’s most famous and most widely grown wine grapes. The pair form the foundation of many of the great wines of Bordeaux, where this classic blend (often dubbed “Bordeaux Blend”) is thought to have originated. For centuries, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have been the quintessential Bordeaux wine grapes, but their fame and popularity have now taken them far beyond the banks of the Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde, to the furthest reaches of the wine world.
In California the blend is often labeled as Meritage – providing the producer meets the requirements of the Meritage Alliance. The Australian regions of Coonawarra, Margaret River and Yarra Valley are highly regarded for their unique expressions of the blend. South Africa’s Stellenbosch region also produces some earthy and savory examples that defy many of the commonly held perceptions about New World wine. In other New World countries the blend is often abbreviated to Cabernet Merlot, although this mix could include Cabernet Franc as well.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot blends
The Cabernet – Merlot partnership has proved itself in almost every major wine growing country on Earth, most obviously France, Italy, Australia, Chile and the US, but also such far-flung nations as Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and Israel. The exact proportions of each variety used varies by region, winemaker and style.
Cabernet Sauvignon typically provides the blend’s structure, in terms of both tannins and acids. It also brings dark-fruit flavors of blackcurrant and bell pepper. Merlot is generally considered the juicer, “fatter” variety; it has less structure, but is generous with its palate weight and fruit flavors. This is visibly reflected in the vineyard, by Merlot’s larger, plumper berries, whose thinner skins give a lower skin to juice ratio. Cabernet’s robust structure is fattened out with Merlot’s juicy fruit – a marriage with excellent long-term potential when assembled with care.
Cabernet – Merlot blends have an excellent affinity for oak, and the vast majority are barrel-aged. From their time in barrel they take on notes of cedar, smoke and spice (from French oak) as well as sweeter aromas of vanilla and coconut (from American oak).
Other varieties sometimes added to the basic Cabernet – Merlot blend, in many regions around the world, include the other classic Bordeaux varieties, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere. These are all members of the Bordeaux Blend.
Wines bearing the Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot label can be lean or generous, austere or fruity and short- or long-lived. They occupy every price bracket imaginable, from inexpensive table wines right through to some of the most expensive wines on the market.
Food matches for Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot wines include:
- Sautéed shiitake mushrooms
- Slow-cooked beef roast
- Seared venison rump with red wine and rosemary butter
(sources : wine-searcher)
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