More Than One Whole

And so there are two halves to every bottle, even if that bottle is one half.

This rather lyrical prose sprung from a tasting of two different clarets which had gracefully aged side by side  for almost 25 years. Both half bottles were raised by the same stable.  At the time of their 1988 vintage, Domaine Viticoles Armand Moueix owned indeed both Château Moulinet and Château la Croix Bellevue.

Coming from Pomerol and neighbouring appellation Lallande de Pomerol respectively, the two reds that I uncorked on this occasion are obviously predominantly made from Merlot and some Cabernet Sauvignon and, lest we forget, Cabernet Franc.

Surprisingly enough, both wines kept up very well despite their Silver Jubilee in bottle. But it was the Château la Croix Bellevue which seemed the most attention deprived one after having been left alone for nearly 25 years. Finally brought out of the cellar into the light, it played dead for a while.

Anyone would have thought it was completely lifeless were it not for that particular, faint distracting whiff. Whilst the Château Moulinet was immediately enjoyable, the Lalande de Pomerol appeared to smell similar to a TCA-tainted wine.

I have learnt not to be misled so easily by wines with some Cabernet Franc in the blend, though. So often the grape throws the taster off. What at first seems to be a spoiled bottle fallen victim to the Cork Demons will more often than not, with some aeration, turn around into an angelic red.

The Château la Croix Bellevue was no different. After ample resuscitation, reanimated and vigorous again it shone as if it had been given a second lease of life.

When there is Cabernet Franc at play, those aromas that initially lead you up the wrong path of corkiness may quickly turn around and take you down the alley of this red grape’s distinctive hallmark. Unpleasant smells of dirty socks disappear to give way to a bouquet of earthy bell pepper, pencil shavings and an understated herbaceousness adding an attractive, fresh dimension.

Wine is a living thing. When one half seems like falling to pieces and about letting go, the other seems like glueing it all back and falling upward. I guess we all have our la Croix to bear!

Tasting Notes (19.03.2013 G.M.)

Château Moulinet, 1988, 12.5% Vol.

variety: about 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc.

style: mature dry red wine

region: Pomerol AOC (Bordeaux)

producer: Domaine Viticoles Armand Moueix

Georges’ Score: B

Uncorking is long overdue, but the character is far from off, pleasantly mature on the nose here, with soft blackcurrant fruit, figs and undergrowth. The palate has a nonchalant structure, but maintains its former glory. There is a fleshy texture and soft tannins along a nicely integrated acidity.

Note: The property had been bought by Armand Moueix in 1971 and has since seen a revival. A stone engraved with a Maltese cross shows its long history and the presence of the knights of Saint John of Jerusalem in the Middle Ages.

Château la Croix Bellevue, 1988, 12.5% Vol.

variety: about 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc.

style: mature dry red wine

region: Lalande de Pomerol AOC (Bordeaux)

producer:  Domaine Viticoles Armand Moueix

Georges’ Score: B

A rich and slightly tawny wine with a dumb nose at first. Then it turns slightly smokey with a lovely forest crispness to it. The palate has lost weight but there is still enough fruit and pliable tannins. The finish is what one expects from mature Medoc although the length is a little short. This is still a fine drink.

Note: I understand that Château la Croix Bellevue has since changed hands and is also sold under a different looking label since Jean-Louis Trocard acquired the property in 2000.

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