Warren Buffett once said that, “Price is what you pay, and value is what you get!” This week continues our trend of value wines with Chateau Poitevin.
The Chateau Poitevin Medoc 2010 is hard to find in Connecticut, but easy to find just about everywhere else, so my local readers shouldn’t worry too much. My bottle comes from Upstate New York courtesy of some co-workers who help feed my passion for wine; Thank You Wendy and Eric!
Before we get into the wine, let’s talk a little about the word Chateau. If you walk down the French wine aisle, you would think France is covered in little Mc-Mansions called “Chateaus.” That’s because just about every bottle is from le Chateau something or other! Well, what can I tell you, is Chateau means something completely different to the French than to us, they are French after all. When we think “Chateau” we imagine a fancy old mansion, maybe in Bordeaux. The French think only of the land where the grapes are grown and the wine that comes from it.
The term got going in the 1800’s and is part of the long evolution of wine, from what was considered nectar from the Gods to what it is today a multi-billion dollar industry. But the advent of “Chateaus” marks a very important point in wine history, when people started to take notice of where the wine was coming from, who was making it, and its history or “providence.” The development of this providence provides for a classification of wines in 1855 that divided Bordeaux wines to a list of 58 red wines assigned to separate tiers. There were four premier crus, or first growths, twelve second growths, fourteen third growths, eleven fourth growths and seventeen fifth growths. Remarkably, in 158 years, the list is virtually the same.
Medoc, where today’s wine hails from, was a swamp in 1240 when they started making wine there. Until the 19th century, there were no bottles, no corks, and to put it bluntly, the wine sucked. Wine went bad very quickly, especially drier varieties. Dry wines were the wines of the ordinary people. Kings, nobles, cardinals and Popes drank sweet wines made with almost raisin grapes, mostly because they tasted better, lasted longer, and, as a result, were very expensive. Medoc was near the Atlantic and close to its major market, England, so they made wine to be shipped quickly before it spoiled.
Around 1677 people started to notice that wine from the Medoc region lasted longer and had a better taste than others. In 1750, with the development of bottles, corks and a new method of fermentation called chaptalization, in addition to adding sulfur, wine costs dropped. The wine was getting better and cheaper, and the best came from the Medoc region. Then in 1855, with the advent of the Chateau and crus ratings (another Medoc invention) we have the birth of modern wine. The next development made in Medoc was barrel-aging. So, throughout its history, Bordeaux–in particular the Medoc region–has been on the cutting edge of wine evolution for almost 800 years.
So for $15 retail you can pour 800 years of wine history into your glass and enjoy. First, the color–a beautiful deep purple–and the nose is textbook Medoc: violets. I could smell my mother’s violets intwined with dark fruit. The blend is 55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot aged 14 months in 30% new oak. The taste is marvelous, nice cherry and ripe fruit with vanilla. For $15 you can get a wine that not only could, but should be cellared for 3 to 5 years and enjoyed more each time you pull a cork. I would recommend decentering for one hour. Chateau Poitevin is an exceptional vintage, and superb value. Buy soon, this will sell out!