Monday, April 25, 2011
Domaines Bour 1999 Domaine de Grangeneuve Cuvee Vieilles Vignes (France)
I always wondered why my parents put me into a French Immersion program at school when I was young, the teasing from the English language-learning students was relentless and made us all feel quite ostracized from the rest of 'les etudiants'. Today I understand what people are saying in French, but when it comes to speaking it I am well out of practice ... so I have often wondered why my parents put me through those formative years of hell. Until today. I am looking at a bottle of 12 year old French wine, that I pulled out from my cellar, and the back label is written completely in French, and because of that education of years gone by I can understand 95% of what is written. It's a blend of Syrah and Grenache "a parts egales" (in equal parts); and the wine is made from "nos plus vieilles vignes (plus de 30 ans)" (our oldest vines, over 30 years old). There are other parts of the label I understand but now 12 years later the descriptors are a little off: ["Les aromes evoquent les fruits murs et les epices" (Aromas recall ripe fruits and spices); "En bouche ... harmonieux, plein et rond" (in the mouth ... harmonious, full and round)]. All except for "Potential de vieillissement de 7 a 10 ans" (aging potential of 7-10 years) ... they weren't far off. This wine got lost in the cellar and only now did I find it and say to myself "Je ferais mieux de boire celui-ci maintenant" (I had better drink this one now).
There is no doubt from the very first smell that this wine is an old one: dried leaves, forest floor, age and rot are all smells in the glass - but rot in a good way, not in an I-live-by-the-dump kinda way. Flavours are far from fresh, see above for some of the descriptors, but there are still some tannins and acidity in this wine that give it a certain freshness on the palate, without being fruity. Over the course of a few hours the wine smoothed and became even sippable with a lingering dried tobacco leaf/cigar finish. You have to understand old wine to like this one, and it was mighty likeable if you like old wine - that may sound like pretzel logic but it sounds much better than my French does. As for my French Immersion formative years - I guess I should thnak my parents after all this time, your foresight helped me to read French wine bottles, and in this profession that a much needed skill.