Wine: Chateau Bel-Air
Grapes: Cabernet sauvignon (55 percent), merlot (45 percent)
Region: Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux, France
Availability: Lee’s Discount Liquors
In the glass: Chateau Bel-Air is a deep, dark semi-opaque purplish-red color with a deep crimson core going out into a violet-red rim definition and medium-high viscosity.
On the nose: There are tons of crushed black fruits, white chocolate, creme brulee, meaty undertones, sloe fruit pulp and other juicy sort of exotic spices and berry characteristics, with underlying notes of cassis and oak.
On the palate: The wine is extremely supple at first with expansive jammy crushed blackberry, creme de cassis, a nutty sort of mocha character, then a berry fruity midpalate, followed by a slightly minty, earthy, yet soft, supple finish with elegant balanced tannins and lots of length. It is a complete overachiever in this vintage.
Odds and ends: Unfortunately for Bordeaux wine lovers, the Bordeaux region of France has had a couple of bad vintages in a row with the 2011 and 2012s. This has proved to be a boon for those looking for more drinkable vintages that came earlier, in particular the now legendary pair of 2009 and 2010. Chateau Bel-Air is one of the many great little values widely available in the market and hails from what has been called one of the greatest vintages in the history of Bordeaux. There are several Chateaux in Bordeaux that can lay claim to the Bel-Air name and sometimes they are confused with one another, but on price alone, this Chateau Bel-Air is unbeatable at less than $15. It is from the Haut-Medoc region, which is the appellation of vineyards right “behind” all the top ones and therefore it does have a great pedigree, as well as coming from fairly good soil. It is a classic Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot and should offer an immensely pleasing drinking experience from now through 2020 at least . If you “climb” up the ladder of quality and price in Bordeaux from this vintage, you’ll find some of the greatest wines ever made and they can live for a century or more easily. Try this delicious and easily approachable Bordeaux wine with a medium rare steak and potatoes, with a side of classically steamed green beans. It also is highly recommended for everyday wine-drinking.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at email@example.com.