Specialty Club – February 2015

2009 Chateau Meyney, Saint-Estèphe
There’s no doubt that Saint-Estèphe is the least known and most overlooked of the four famous communes of the Mèdoc peninsula of Bordeaux. Of the 55 original estates classified as first to fifth growths in 1855, only five were in Saint-Estèphe. In comparison to the weight of Margaux, the aromatics of Pauillac, or the elegance of St.-Julian, the wines of Saint-Estèphe are generally considered to be more rustic and tannic. So naturally we were very pleasantly surprised to discover this smooth, full bodied wine from Chateau Meyney in, yes, Saint-Estèphe. Meyney is one of the oldest estates in the Mèdoc and the vineyard sits on an outcropping of iron-enriched blue clay that is quite unusual for Saint-Estèphe but is found in Pomerol, particularly in the famous vineyard of Chateau Pètrus. Perhaps that’s why the wine shows the rich character of a powerful “right bank” Bordeaux, although the actual blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. In contrast to the more structured wines produced in the cooler 2010, this wine’s deep fruit is representative of the warmer 2009 vintage. Nor surprisingly, Robert Parker loved the wine and wrote, “I clearly underrated this wine from barrel. The finest wine made at this estate since 1982, this opaque black wine is a sleeper of the vintage, with oodles of blackberry fruit interwoven with hints of charcoal, forest floor, licorice and damp earth. Deep, rich, chewy, full-bodied and opulent, this is a fabulous Meyney that, because of its low acidity and very ripe tannin, can be drunk in 3-4 years or cellared for two decades. Bravo!” Not much more to add, except that it’s $49.75 and in good supply.

2011 Azienda Agricola Bastianich, Vespa Bianco
A review of our records shows that we have put this wonderful white in this club every four years, the previous vintages having been the 2004 and 2008. This odd pattern is not due to the variable quality of the wine, which has been consistently good, but more due to the vagaries of distribution in this market. Joe and Lidia Bastianich have become world famous as restaurateurs, authors, and television personalities (not to mention their many food and wine collaborations with Chef Mario Batali), but they are also well-known in Italy for the wines from their properties in Friuli and Tuscany. The Vespa Bianco, from their Friuli estate, is a blend of 45% Chardonnay, 45% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% late harvest Picolit — a white grape from the Friuli region that lends this sumptuous wine an amazing mouth feel. The Sauvignon Blanc provides plenty of minerality and citrus, while the Chardonnay supplies flavors of honey and pear. For food pairings, the Bastianichs recommend it with roasted turkey or duck, shellfish, especially lobster or scallops, mushroom-based dishes, and cheese-dressed pastas. The Vespa Bianco is $39 and once again completely sold out. Enjoy it now or over the next seven to ten years.