Despite taking its knocks in recent years, Bordeaux is still the world's most important wine region, even if its claim on the title isn't as indisputable as it once was. So for this reason I put aside my dislike of walk-around tastings and braved the crowds at the recent Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux showcase of the 2007 vintage held in a Manhattan ballroom.
The year 2007 was not a great vintage, but the more conscientious properties were able to make some lovely wine. As Paul Wagner, a spokesman for the UGC, points out: "The 2007 vintage produced some really tasty wines—perhaps not so many in the very serious vin de garde style [the French term that means wines expected to improve with age], but really delicious and drinkable. For the chateaux that understood this, and there are quite a few, the result is delicious wine that really tastes like good Bordeaux and is drinkable almost immediately."
One such property is Château Canon ($60) in St-Emilion, which is ranked among Premiers Grands Crus Classés B. The 21.5 hectare vineyard was bought in 1996 by the Wertheimer family, which also owns Chanel, among many other interests. The family has invested some of its considerable fortune since then in renovating and modernizing the vineyards and winery. This, combined with the direction of the estimable general manager, John Kolasa, is now paying substantial dividends in the form of some superb wines.
Kolasa also manages the Deuxièmes Cru Margaux Château Rauzan-Ségla for the Wertheimers, and his wines all show a polished elegance marked most of all by balance and harmony, with none of the artificial, pumped-up muscularity so popular in certain wine-making circles these days.
And the Canon 2007 is another Kolasa winner. It shows beguiling hints of earthiness—think wet leaves and old leather—and the polished feminine delicacy that one finds in the best merlot-based St-Emilions. Not a great wine, or a vin de garde, but one that will make for superb and highly enjoyable drinking over the next five years or so and as such is a great example of how a well-run property can make quite pleasurable wine in even a so-so vintage.
To find this wine near you try www.wine-searcher.com
When to Drink: For the next five years
Breathing/Decanting: One hour decanting really helps
Food Pairing: Richer red meat and game dishes, especially roasts
Grapes: 75% merlot, 25% cabernet franc
Web Site: www.chateaucanon.com