Grab your wine keys and let’s rack up the miles on these classic Bordeaux...
Growing up in Detroit, I was surrounded by an incredible car culture which found its way into nearly every part of my life. My father is a classic car enthusiast and collector, and I always loved going to the car shows with him. We would gawk over the old Duesenbergs and Packards at the Concours d’Elegance of America, but my favorite car show was always the annual Woodward Dream Cruise where tens of thousands of classic cars, hot rods, and modern sports cars drove up and down Woodward Avenue—the first paved road in America. While many of the cars at the Concours were brought in by truck or trailer, pampered and polished behind a velvet rope and adorned with ‘Do Not Touch’ signs, every one of the Dream Cruise cars were driven—and driven hard! To me, Bordeaux resembled the Concours d’Elegance of wine. With grandiose châteaux, an elaborate history filled with names like Rothschild and Thomas Jefferson, bottles bought and sold as treasured investments never to be consumed, and prices that would make my eyes water, I found it hard to break through. For years, I felt like I was viewing this incredibly important wine region from behind a velvet rope and sign saying, ‘Do Not Touch’. That is, until I tasted the classic wines of Château Gombaude-Guillot in Pomerol. With one sip, I was in! The velvet rope was pulled back and the signs were removed from the inaccessible world of great Bordeaux. These wines share all the great attributes as the legendary châteaux, but seem to show more authenticity and less pageantry. The trailblazing team at Gombaude-Guillot led by Claire Laval, Dominique Techer, and their son Olivier Techer, has continually spoken truth to power in this small region by being the first great Bordeaux growth to be certified organic. Now they lead the region in implementing biodynamic practices in the vineyard and cellar. In the glass, the 2010 Pomerol is an instant classic from a spectacular vintage! Lush and silky Merlot fruit give way to beautifully integrated oak and a finish dashed with spice that will continue to evolve over many years. This wine is just now leaving infancy and finally has enough mileage on the engine to really start opening up at full throttle. In the 2008, aromas of chocolate, graphite, plum, and currant dance beautifully over a smooth and exuberant core. Like a 1959 Cadillac with a sofa for a front seat and large tailfins, this wine just feels right and isn’t ashamed of showing off. The 2015 Pom ‘N Roll is the new kid on the block with a HEMI dropped into a Honda Civic. With a whopping 25% Malbec and 10% Cabernet Franc to balance the Merlot, this wine boldly displays a new way to make and enjoy great wine. Open this wine tonight and be inspired by the youthful vigor and energy coming from such noble terroir. Grab your wine keys and let’s rack up the miles on these classic Bordeaux and see how far they can take us!
In the heart of the Pomerol plateau, on the Right Bank of Bordeaux, the vineyards of Château Gombaude-Guillot have been a family property for so long that the current generation doesn’t even know when they were first acquired. The Bélevier family was already well established as vignerons in Pomerol and Néac when this property was passed down to Marie Bélevier as a dowry in 1868. Today, Claire Laval, Marie’s great-granddaughter, runs the estate with her son Olivier Techer. Though the estate is already certified organic, Claire is now pursuing the more stringent requirements of biodynamics. The wines of Gombaude-Guillot are classic reflections of Pomerol: rich and supple, with a deep gravel mineral structure.
Often considered the wine capital of the world, Bordeaux and its wines have captured the minds, hearts, and wallets of wine drinkers for centuries. For many, the wines provide an inalienable benchmark against which all other wines are measured.
Bordeaux is divided into three winegrowing regions with the city that gives the region its name in the near geographical center. The “right bank,” or the area located east of the Dordogne River, produces wines that are predominantly Merlot with small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The “left bank” is located to the west of the Garonne River and produces wines dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
The third region, Entre-Deux-Mers, lies between both rivers and produces white wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle. Though technically in the left bank, it is worth noting the appellation of Sauternes, which produces arguably the world’s most famous sweet wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle as well.
Though many top Bordeaux wines are sold en primeur (in advance of their bottling) and often through a middleman known as a negoçiant, Kermit has always preferred to purchase directly from the winemaker. For more than three decades he has sought out small producers, who make classic Bordeaux wines and are willing to play outside the negoçiant system. This ethic has led to longstanding relationships, excellent prices, and perhaps most important—wines of great value and longevity.
Great winemakers, great terroirs, there is never any hurry. And I no longer buy into this idea of “peak” maturity. Great winemakers, great terroirs, their wines offer different pleasures at different ages.
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