Private Tasting: Bordeaux Blends, France vs. Washington

By Kori ~ February 9th, 2009.

Recently, we had one of our double-blind private tastings. This time when we sat down for our dinner of grilled beef tenderloin steaks, brown and wild rice, and mixed vegetables, all we knew were that the two wines in front of us were red, but we did not know their region of origin or varietal. For a more complete description of how we set up these private tastings, please refer to How We Taste.

20090209_lafleurdebouardWhile we thought both wines paired well with our steak dinner, all four of us slightly preferred one over the other. When we finished eating and pulled off the sacks to reveal what we had been drinking, we found two Bordeaux-style blends, one from France and the other from Washington State. The 2004 La Fleur de Bouard from Lalande de Pomerol, Bordeaux, France, beat the 2006 Saviah Big Sky Cuvee from Columbia Valley, Washington. The La Fleur de Bouard definitely has more earthy, Old World characteristics versus the more fruit-forward, New World style of the Saviah Big Sky Cuvee. When comparing these two, it really comes down to personal preference and knowing your own palate. Remember, the key to wine tasting is to try lots of wines and determine what you like best. (Photo from Chateau La Fleur de Bouard)

Both of these wines are predominantly Merlot. While Merlot got a bad rap in the movie Sideways, it is an excellent, classic varietal that should not be dismissed. In fact, Merlot is the most widely planted variety in Bordeaux.

While we had tasted a previous vintage of the Saviah Big Sky Cuvee, we had not previously had the La Fleur de Bouard. I learned about it from reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s 101 Wines book in which it was his #60. Since it was reasonably priced for Bordeaux, I decided to pick up a bottle to put up against a Washington wine with the same price point. It did not disappoint. With a Quality rating of 4 stars and a QPR of 5 bangs for your buck, the La Fleur is a great buy.

“This wine really reminds me of how great Merlot can be, and how unfortunate it is that one silly movie, however entertaining, can totally blacklist a grape that has made great wine for centuries.” –Gary Vaynerchuk, Gary Vaynerchuk’s 101 Wines

2004 La Fleur de Bouard (Lalande de Pomerol, Bordeaux, France): 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Earthy, slightly musty aromas give way to flavors of tobacco and pencil shavings. Big, bold, and very tannic. Improves with food. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: K&L Wine Merchants (California), $19.99 [was $35 when I bought it]

2006 Saviah Big Sky Cuvee (Columbia Valley, Washington): 61% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot. Aromas and flavors of ripe cherries, plums, and other dark fruits. Fruit-forward and medium-bodied. Mellows with food.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $35

All in all, this was a great tasting. Both are good red wines that are worth a try if you see them on the shelf at your local wine shop.

Filed under: American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, French Wine, Merlot, Red Wine, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25

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