A Yank's Mantra: Quality, Not Pedigree

By Robert Parker

Jeffrey Davies is not your typical Bordeaux négociant, or wine broker. An American who spent his junior year in college at the University of Bordeaux more than 30 years ago, Davies returned to France after graduation to study at the Institute of Oenology, started writing for wine publications, and eventually launched his own wholesaling business, Signature Selections. Davies represents a new breed of broker who realizes quality, not historic classification or pedigree, is most important. He works with small producers who believe in hand-harvesting and keeping quality high through low yields. Below is just a small sampling of his wines.

2004 Beaulieu Comtes de Tastes

88 points.

This unfiltered offering from Bordeaux Supérieur is a blend of 50% merlot, 35% cabernet franc, and 15% cabernet sauvignon. The fleshy 2004 has an elegant, medium body with sweet raspberry and cherry notes. It confirms the fact that not all Bordeaux need be expensive or rare. $14

2004 Belle-Vue

89 points.

Just coming on the market, this Haut-Médoc wine is a blend of 40% cabernet sauvignon, 35% merlot, and 25% petit verdot. It is soft, silky-textured, and qualitatively well above its modest pedigree. Enjoy it sometime over the next three to four years. $19

2004 Reignac Blanc

91 points.

A blend of 70% sauvignon blanc and 30% semillon, the 2004 from this Bordeaux estate offers honeysuckle and melony fruit characteristics presented in a medium-bodied, crisp, fleshy style. Drink it over the next year. $25

2003 Joanin-Bécot

90 points.

This Côtes de Castillon cuvée is 75% merlot and 25% cabernet franc. The deep ruby/purple-hued 2003 offers sweet crème de cassis notes intermixed with notions of espresso roast, chocolate, and spice. Rich and heady, it will provide terrific drinking over the next five to six years. $25

2004 Fleur Cardinale

92 points.

Primarily a blend of 75% merlot and 25% cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, Fleur Cardinale is an up-and-comer in St.-Emilion. Moreover the wine remains reasonably priced for such impeccably well-made Bordeaux. The 2004 is outstanding, revealing sweet black currant fruit, cedar, and spice characteristics. These beauties can be consumed during their first 10 to 12 years of life. $26-$47

2004 Reignac

87 points.

From a good rather than great Bordeaux vintage, the 2004 red Reignac exhibits sweet cherry and toasty new oak notes, medium body, and a pleasant spicy/earthy component. It can be enjoyed over the next three to four years. $41

2003 Château de la Negly La Port du Ciel

96 points.

The inky-blue/purple-tinged 2003 from the Coteaux du Languedoc (which is not a Bordeaux appellation) exhibits aromas of crème de cassis, bacon fat, camphor, and spice box. Sweet, rich, intense, and full-bodied, this mouth-filling, teeth-staining syrah should drink beautifully for 15 or more years. It's a revelation from an area better known for inexpensive as well as indifferent wines. $65-$75

Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.

Robert Parker is the world's most influential wine critic. Visit www.eRobertParker.com to see tens of thousands of tasting notes, buy his books, or subscribe to his newsletter, The Wine Advocate.

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