Saturday, October 9, 2010

Chateau Charmail Haut-Medoc 2005

I'm really sorry that I got this wine. It's not that good. It's partially my fault, and this wine is a lesson to me--there is one guy at the LA Wine Company that is a shitty sales guy, and I'm never going to ask him for a recommendation again. Caveat Emptor, people. Lesson two: I need to research wine (no buying "cold") at the LA Wine Company to determine whether it might be shitty before I go there. It would probably help to only talk to the sales guy that's given me solid recommendations as well (the Asian one). I probably should have been wary of this wine, but I've had good luck with cheaper 2005 Bordeaux. Anyways, The Wine Advocate terms this a "sleeper of the vintage," and rarely have they been more correct. This wine is about as interesting as baseball--it's sleep inducing. This wine is also a lesson about Parker et al, I suppose. Looking into the background of this wine (and scores are probably why LA Wine Company is carrying this in the first place, can't underestimate the appeal of a Wine Advocate 90 rating for the Baby Boomer set), you get an interesting twist. Wine Advocate 90, IWC 88-90, and here's the kicker: Wine Spectator 85. Ouch. As far as the Spectator is concerned, that's a barely drinkable or printable wine. But anyways, this is a lesson in how Parker 90 point wines (well, some of them anyways) age. The answer? Not well. Lesson three: if you're going to buy Bordeaux, buy it at K&L. They know what they're doing with Bordeaux, and I'm sure there's no way in hell they would have carried this wine. You know why? Because it sucks. K&L has a good filter. Even if I occasionally get lame wine there, it will be a good example of what it's trying to be. If it's modern, it will be modern. If it's shitty, well it will be shitty and they won't carry it. The sales people are much better there too. LA Wine Company is cheap, but you can't underestimate the value of a really good wine shop. For me, that's K&L.

24$. A blend of 45% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the remainder Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. On the nose, very closed at first. Eventually opens to reveal raspberry, currant, a bit of vanilla and mint. There is a savory background to the nose. In the mouth, similar flavors, as well as a low-acid, soft mouthfeel. Not much of a finish. Went well with our lamb. Nothing technically wrong with this wine per se, it's just not that good or interesting. Much better options at this price. If it was spoofier, it would have been an F, but unfortunately, there's nothing wrong with it. I would love to give it a DNPIM, but I think it deserves a D-. 

I had an epiphany of sorts the other day, and that's what we had for dinner. Rack of lamb has always frustrated me. I make it frequently because it's good and it's cheap, but cooking it is always a bit of a puzzle for me. The ribs have tons of fat, and for them to be easy to eat, you have to render all the fat. The loin/rib-eye is all meat, but if you cook it for as long as it takes to render all the fat out of the ribs, you get overcooked loin/rib-eye. Solution? Deconstruct the rack. I wasn't sure if this was harebrained or not. But it worked. I believe the two pieces you "create" from the rack would be a rib-eye (it may be that it's called a tenderloin) and then ribs. Forgive me for not being a butcher. Anyways, it's easy to do, and then you can cook the ribs and the loin/rib-eye separately. I roasted the ribs with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and I seared the loin/rib-eye (which still has lots of fat to keep it tasty) before throwing it into a 325 degree oven. Meanwhile, I made a lamb stock with a couple of the ribs that I didn't roast. I later reduced that with some red wine and butter to make a pan sauce for the lamb. All in all, delicious stuff--I highly recommend this method. 

3 comments:

Cabfrancophile said...

Just when I think I should try some Bordeaux, I read a post like this! Anyway, don't need Bordeaux when there are so many interesting terroir-driven wines. Heck, CA terroir is more compelling than a swamp drained by Dutch engineers. Bordeaux needs to fix its marketing program, because right now it has unattainably priced labels as luxury wines and interchangeable widgets as commodity wines. The donut hole in the middle of expressive commodity wines, at least from a marketing perspective, is pretty bad. I guess that's what happens when cynical negociants, not quality-driven importers, control the trade.

Jeff said...

Yeah, Bordeaux is weird. This wine wasn't even as good as the 8$ Bordeaux Superior that I bought from Costco recently. Go figure. And you wonder why people aren't drinking Bordeaux anymore? Gee, I wonder. My neighbor was oohing and aahing about drinking a '98 Cheval Blanc the other night...and I'm not gonna lie, I wish he'd given me a taste. But of course, that's a ridiculous expense in my mind. Min 500$. Of course, our OTHER neighbor, who must be pretty freaking wealthy, just popped it open on a Wednesday night. Yeah. And we wonder why we don't drink Bordeaux?! It's because all the stuff that is crazy expensive for what it is. If you gave me 500$ and said spend it on wine, I could probably pick out a case or two of pretty damn good wines.

Codfather2k said...

You all drank this in 2010 and you're surprised? All the reviews of past vintages suggest that Charmail matures slower than other wines and to allow at least 10 years to open up (i.e. drinking at twice the age).
Now I'm not saying the wine is necessarily brilliant (I just don't know, although a good friend of mine has bought successive 'good' vintages of this for years) and I'm not saying you won't necessarily be proved right over time or you're wrong, but to compare like with like, if the Charmail is designed to age for 10 years before maturity and you are expecting a wine to age in 5 years (perhaps your favourite one is like this) then this is an unfair comparison.