I have mentally thought about doing this post for quite awhile. Opening this 2003 Verdignan brought on the appropriate moment. I am a believer in paying respects and it’s the basis of this post.
We learn to drink certain wines from the regions we live near or from the people we learn & enjoy wine with as we walk the road to understanding what we really enjoy. I started as an exclusive CA Chardonnay drinker for many years before moving on to nearly every varietal and regions offer. Next was Napa Cabernets which, led me to my true love, red Bordeaux. It was a bit of curve getting there but, once I had them with proper aging, I was hooked for life.
While my curiosity got me to Bordeaux wines, there one person that helped shape my Bordeaux palate and I agreed with more than anyone else’s, including every well known wine critics at that time and even today after spending 10 weeks learning from several Master Sommeliers on my way to passing the Court of Master Sommeliers exam and becoming a Sommelier myself. This person is Clyde Beffa Jr., Owner of K&L Wine Merchants.
Clyde has been traveling to Bordeaux for over 40 years and sometimes multiple times in a year. His palate and experience are second to none. Especially, when it comes to Bordeaux.
I owe him a lot. He taught me the importance of letting good Bordeaux’s age 20 years plus. What were the jewel value producers. Brought in Bordeaux wines direct from the Chateaus that had 10 years of bottle age and older. Bordeaux’s that critics did not like young but, he knew something special had taken place over time as he was tasting them much later in their lives and often. I bought and drank a lot of these wines. They also kept temptation at bay in me reaching for my too young and more expensive wines.
He is very kind and kind enough to allow me to travel with him & key staffers to the 2014 En Premier to taste what was a very difficult 2013 Bordeaux vintage. You can go to En Premier and then there is going with Clyde. You have all the key appointments, Chateau accommodations/dinners and taste somewhere around 1500 plus wines in 6 days. He is loved by the Bordelais and for good reason.
So, I dedicate this post to him. He is the one who told me to buy this little known 2003 Verdignan at the same “Affordable Bordeaux Tasting” I mentioned in my Chateau de Candale post on Friday. As of Friday, that was the wine of the tasting. Well…until I coravined this slowly over the weekend. This 2003 was under $25 and it is one of the very best Bordeaux’s I had in some time. As well, perhaps the best QPR in my over 20 years collecting wine. Clyde knew that day just how good it would become. He said, forget about this for 20 years. So, I am a little early here.
Clyde has recommended more great Bordeaux’s to me that most people don’t hear about, let alone try. He told me to buy the poorly reviewed 91 Pichon Lalande when he brought more into the store seven years ago Chateau direct. It was a very difficult vintage with spring frost, hail storm and a difficult growing season. He described as “Heaven in a Bottle” and It most certainly the case. To this day, Pichon Lalande is my favorite steak wine and the 91 is still my favorite vintage. I purchased a 3L from him recently that he brought in direct from the Chateau for my 60th next year. Can’t wait to open that with our good friends and celebrate.
As for the Verignan, the nose reveals; dark brooding & slightly bake fruits of; blackberries, black raspberries, dark cherries, black plum, some poached strawberries & haunting blue fruits. Black tea, forest floor with leaves, anise, limestone, moist clay, dry crushed rocks, dry stones, beautiful, mid intensity dark spice, dry tobacco, graphite, mixed dark berry cola, understated, well layered baking spices; clove, nutmeg, cinnamon & vanilla, dry herbs, mint with candied; dark, red, blue and purple florals.
The body is full, rich, lush, satiny with plenty of well rounded, soften tannins. The tension, structure, length and balance are excellent and will continue to improve. This will last another 15 years and beyond with proper storage. This is a very classic Bordeaux well balance in fruit and earth. It is sheer elegance on the palate. It’s why I love Bordeaux more than Napa and I love Napa Valley Cabernet. Dark brooding & slightly bake, ripe fruits of; blackberries, black raspberries, dark cherries, black plum, boysenberries, some poached strawberries & haunting blue fruits. Black tea, dark chocolate bar, touch of mocha powder, light caramel notes, Expresso notes, forest floor with leaves, anise, limestone, moist clay, dry crushed rocks, dry stones, beautiful, mid intensity dark Asian & Indian spices with just right amount of palate heat, dry tobacco, graphite, dry twigs with a little sap, mixed dark berry cola, understated, well layered baking spices; clove, nutmeg, cinnamon & vanilla, dry herbs/sage, mint with candied; dark, red, blue and purple florals. The acidity is round and nearly perfect. The long finish is, classic, elegant, well balance fruit and earthy Bordeaux that persists softly on the palate for minutes with just the right amount of spice.
This is a heady wine that you really think about as you slowly sip and it affects your whole body. Can’t wait to have another in five years.
Photos of; Chateau Vergignan in Medoc near St. Estephe, their vineyard that reveals where Bordeaux gets its earthiness, Owner Jean Miaihle who acquired the property in 1972 and a wide shot of their vines. — 3 years ago
The reason I fell in love with Bordeaux is because I had one of the greatest mentors one could have, Clyde Beffa Jr. - Owner of K&L Wine Merchants. I could never thank him enough or show enough gratitude for the kindness he has shown me. He has been going to Bordeaux multiple times a year for 40 plus years and shown me the greatness of well made Bordeaux’s enjoyed at the age of 25 years plus!
Many who open well made Bordeaux’s young will never know the absolute Heaven they bring to the palate and even more so with a great steak. You only rob yourself of perfection when you open them inside of 25 years. Sure you can check em at 10-15 years for longevity but, you need to have/save bottles for 25 years plus.
Also, an old Bordeaux at 95 is not nearly the same as a young 95. At this age, technical scores are simply not the same as young wine. The enjoyment is completely different.
The nose reveals; a slight touch of funk, dark, ripe, currants, blackberries, dark cherries, black plum, black raspberries, strawberries on the edge of the glass, anise, cedar, graphite, used leather, just a whiff of green pepper, vanilla, caramel, mocha, dark Asian spice, incense, dark & mid berry cola, dark, rich earth, underbrush, limestone, dry stone, hint of sweet tarriness, light, dry herbaceousness, black tea, with dry, withering, fresh, dark, red, blue candied flowers and violets and lavender for days.
The body is round, soft and full. The 90 is the definition of elegant and floral. The structure, tension, length and balance are perfect with another 5-10 years of pleasure to give. It’s gorgeous and sexy. Dark, ripe, currants, blackberries, dark cherries, black plum, black raspberries, some blueberries, strawberries on the long set, anise, cedar, graphite, soft, used leather, vanilla, caramel, mocha, dark chocolate, salted, milk chocolate, dark Asian spice with just a touch of palate heat, a hint of green pepper, savory meats, incense, dark & mid berry cola, dark, rich earth, underbrush, limestone, dry crushed minerals, dry stone, hint of sweet tarriness, light, dry herbaceousness, black tea, with dry, withering, fresh, dark, red, blue candied flowers and violets and lavender for days. The acidity is perfect like a warm gentle rain shower. The finish is a “forget about it.” It’s; gorgeous, sexy, lush, ripe, just the right amount of earthiness, elegant, well balanced and will persist until you go to sleep.
13% ABV. I sure miss the 12–13% ABV of the 80 & early 90 Bordeaux’s.
Photos of; the majestic Chateau Cos d’Estournel and Estate vines, their barrel room with translucent floor to walk above, their library cellar that most would love to raid and their sitting salon.
— 4 years ago
Haut-Bailly Dinner in SF with Veronique Sanders of Haut-Bailly.
The 2012 is living up to its reviews. It’s good & well priced. The dark fruits are ripe, juicy, cola notes, menthol, dark, moist, turned earth. Drinking nicely now but, still a hold for another 5 years plus.
Served with Coq au Vin. Baby Carrots, Mushrooms, Pearl Onions & Red Wine Sauce. Mathilde French Bistro
Photos of; Clyde Beffa Owner of K&L Wine Merchants & Veronique Sanders, dinner menu & pairing & dinner guests. — 3 years ago
Pontet Canet tasting and dinner with Alfred Tesseron.
The 96 is a nice surprise add from Clyde’s cellar. Thank you Clyde.
This 96 is beautifully floral. The evolution is right around its peak. The body is medium full and the tannins soft. It’s an elegant beauty.
The fruits are ripe and delicious. Leaner blackberries, black raspberries, dark cherries, strawberries and shades of raspberries. Soft earth; dry top soil, dry rock, limestone minerals, old tobacco, soft leather, cedar with dry and withering red & dark florals. The acidity is like a waterfall. The long finish is well balanced fruit & earth and in a sweet spot.
Photos of; our dinner group, tasting room at Pontet Canet, the horse plows they still use in the fields and Chateau Pontet Canet. — 3 years ago
I like this better than Clyde Mays which is my second favorite — 4 years ago
Don’t walk, run to buy at least a case of the 16 Napa Lot 2 Kalinda Cabernet. At $22 a bottle, it’s delicious at pop & pour (not to try & sound like @Paul Treadway Huntington Beacher Bum) and I can’t wait to experience it’s rounded complexity in 5-7 to years.
I don’t know which Napa producers juice K&L Wine Merchants bottled or had make their 2016 but, it’s delicious. They’ve bottled a Kalinda Cabernet every year since 1984 and have not missed on any bottling that wasn’t worth two or three times + what I paid for it. The 16 is absolutely one of their best.
On the nose, ripe & slightly candied; kirsch cherries, blackberries, dark cherries, poached strawberries, some plum and hues of blueberries. Incense, bright vanillin, cinnamon, clove, smoke, dark, moist soil, limestone minerals and bright dark, red & blue florals.
The body is rich and leaning towards full. Tannins are dusty big. The length, tension, structure and balance are beautiful now and will evolve over the next ten years. Kirsch cherries, dark cherries, blackberries, blueberries, plum, strawberries, big vanillin cream, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, incense, dark spice with heat, licorice/cola, limestone minerals, crushed rocks, dark, rich moist soils, soft leather, wood shavings, cigar, bright, dark & red bright florals, waterfall acidity and a very, rich, long, elegant, well polished & balanced finish that lasts minutes. A steal @ $22. Don’t miss it.
Photos of, the K&L tasting bar in San Francisco, racks of wine in their SF store, Owner of K&L-Clyde Beffa and the marquee Napa sign all tourist stop to take a photo. — 5 years ago