In This Issue
Screw cap Bordeaux I would have expected France to be the last European country before Portugal to start putting screw caps on Appellation Controllee wines. Surprise!
Screw cap Bordeaux
A couple of months ago (Oct. 1, 2007 Wine Advisor), when we were talking about emerging problems with synthetic plastic "corks" as a practical alternative to natural cork, I mentioned that the sturdy modern version of the metal screw cap, conversely, seems to be gaining market share.
"Screw caps, initially abhorred because they evoked the cheap, rotgut wines that had long been packaged with a lightweight, simple version, have been gaining ground strongly in recent years," I wrote then. "Particularly Down Under, it is becoming hard to find a white wine with any other closure, and the [screw cap] is making strong inroads among reds.
"Even in the more wine-conservative U.S. and Europe, screw caps are becoming more and more common - and wine-savvy consumers are learning to embrace them, especially as lingering concerns about long-term aging begin to fade and producers master minor alterations in the bottling process."
Still, with the limited exception of Germany and Austria, where alternative closures have become common on white wines, Europe has largely stood as the last bastion for the natural cork.
So it came as a landmark moment this week when a savvy local wine merchant (Chris Zaborowski at Westport Whiskey & Wine in Louisville) pointed out a newly arrived Bordeaux that he declared a great value at $12.
I got it all the way home before I noticed the closure. A screw cap. A sturdy, modern screw cap on a Bordeaux. A Bordeaux! A historic wine region in the heart of France, perhaps one of the most traditional, conservative wine regions in the world.
Granted, it will be a long time, if ever, before natural cork departs the market entirely. But bear in mind that it has been less than 10 years since screw caps first entered the fine-wine market to any significant degree.
At that time, screw capped fine wines drew "gee whiz" media coverage because the very notion of such a downscale closure on upscale wines seemed peculiar. Screw caps have come a long way in a relatively short time.
Frankly, with the possible exception of wines destined for export, I would have expected France to be the last European country (before Portugal, the primary source of natural cork) to start putting screw caps on even low-end reds from the respected Appellation Controllee regions.
Nevertheless, Château La Freynelle 2006 Bordeaux bears its sturdy screw cap proudly. Better yet, the wine within is, as my trusty merchant assured me, quite a value.
Although its appellation - Entre-Deux-Mers, a broad, flat region between the Dordogne and Garonne rivers, is well separated from Bordeaux's more sought-after zones, the wine is chateau-bottled on a 225-acre property held in the Barthe family's hands since the French Revolution. Veronique Barth, who inherited the property in 1990 and is its first female oenologist and wine maker, has won numerous awards for the estate's wines. And now they're closing it with screw caps.
Gold Medal Wine Club
Small-production, hard-to-find, award-winning wines from California's best small wineries.
As America's leading wine club, we conveniently deliver to you or your gift recipient's doorstep two outstanding wines each month from California's small, family-owned ultra-premium vineyards. The wines produced by these wineries are among the best in the world. There are five clubs to choose from.
Our Gold Series http://www.goldmedalwine.com/wine_clubs/gold.php starts at $34/month and features 2 award-winning California wines per month. The Platinum Series http://www.goldmedalwine.com/wine_clubs/platinum.php features wines with 90+ ratings and the Diamond Series http://www.goldmedalwine.com/wine_clubs/diamond.php is the cream of the crop with 93+ ratings.
Our International Series http://www.goldmedalwine.com/wine_clubs/international.php makes a perfect gift for those seeking adventure and knowledge about other cultures and their finest wines. And finally, our newest wine club, the Pinot Series http://www.goldmedalwine.com/wine_clubs/international.php is a must for any Pinot Noir lover interested in highly-regarded, limited production Pinots.
Gold Medal Wine always delivers award-winning quality wines and is always a great gift.
Chateau La Freynelle 2006 Bordeaux ($11.99)
Very dark purple with a clear garnet edge. Red berries and currants on te nose, attractive fruit, with just a hint of spice. Good, balanced fruit flavors follow the nose, fresh and crisp, with plenty of fresh-fruit acidity for structure and food-friendliness. Tannins barely perceptible as red-fruit flavors linger in a good, long finish. A blend of 65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, made at a discreet 12.5% alcohol. Fine, modest everyday Bordeaux, and the screw cap fosters unusual freshness. U.S. importer: Republic National Distributing Co., Louisville. (Dec. 10, 2008)
FOOD MATCH: Oven-seared natural pork chops with black pepper and a dash of pimenton (smoked paprika).
VALUE: Even a generic red Bordeaux is a pretty good deal at just over $10, and this generic Bordeaux stands well above the median for its genre. Buy up.
WHEN TO DRINK: Although generic Bordeaux isn't particularly ageworthy, its structure - and the screw cap - suggest it will keep well for at least a couple of years on the wine rack.
The Barth family Website is published in French and English, but it's heavy with Flash animations. With detemined clicking, you can work your way down to a page about Chateau La Freynelle, but there's no direct link. Here's the home page:
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Find sources and compare prices for Chateau La Freynelle Bordeaux on Wine-Searcher.com:
Talk About Wine Online
If you have questions, comments or ideas to share about today's article
or wine in general, you're always welcome to drop by our online
WineLovers Discussion Group. This link will take you to the forum home page, where you can read discussions in all the forum sections:
Everyone is free to browse. If you'd like to post a comment, question or reply, you must register, but registration is free and easy. Do take care to register using your real name, or as a minimum, your real first name and last initial. Anonymous registrations are quietly discarded.
To contact me by E-mail, write email@example.com. I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.
PRINT OUT TODAY'S ARTICLE
Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.