March 15, 2008

Caronne Ste. Gemme Bordeaux

Tasting Dinner / March 15th
Sponsored by Calvery Woodley Wines and Spirits
LaChaumiere Restaurant - Georgetown, D.C.

With the US dollar in free fall, trying to find a bargain in French wine is difficult. Especially for those with a penchant for Bordeaux. With the 2005 vintage being touted as one of the best of the century, many of us have been trying the wines from the lesser known "Petite Chateau's" to find an affordable favorite. With the wine press focusing so much attention on some of the smaller chateaus, Chateau Caronne Ste. Gemme is consistently a favorite.

Last night, Francois Nony, a fourth generation proprietor of Caronne Ste. Gemme, came to DC to promote his wines. He spoke about the history of the Chateau, his family's love of the terrior, and the quality and staying power of his wines.

We tasted wines from the 1990, 2000, 2003 and 2005 vintage. My favorites were the 1990 and 2003. I will focus on these in the interest of space, but rest assured, all were delicious.

The 1990 surprised all of us with its resiliency. The 1990 when poured looked beautiful. A bit duller in color and showing a bit of browning at the meniscus, the wine still had lots of fruit. The wine also had layers of earth, mushroom and some smoke finishing with smooth tannins. The wine was a pleasure to drink. I am not sure how many more years this one has left, but at 18 years is showing surprisingly well. This one came out of Francois Nony's personal cellar....Thank you Francois for the rare treat.

2003 was a year of drought in Bordeax. The vines were stressed, and the fruit highly extracted. The 2003 Caronne was a beautiful color, and the black fruit and briar assaulted your senses. It was somewhat fruit forward, with layers of fruit, herbs, and very low acidity. It was a bit astringent on the finish, but this characteristic should fade as it picks up a few years in the cellar.

It is hard to believe you can get bordeaux wines or this quality for under $20.00. This chateau has consistently shined in tastings throughout the years and yet surprisingly has kept their prices low. With the dollars ongoing fall, who knows how long this can continue.

I have to thank Ed Sands from Calvery Woodley in DC for the invitation to this lovely dinner and tasting. He consistently sponsors some of the better wine dinners in DC. More impressively, he usually does it with a all-inclusive cost below $100. Thank you Ed Sands, Michael Sands and William Holby for your wonderful dinners. Please keep up the good work!

I will give Calvert Woodley a plug here. They have the Chateau Caronne Ste. Gemme on sale this week. It is a great time to pick up some 2003 and 2005 bordeaux at a killer price. The 2003 is on special at $17.99 and th 2005 at $21.29.

Calvert Woodley is located at 4339 Connecticut Avene, NW in Washington DC. They have a fabulous newsletter via e-mail that you can sign up for at their website. Go to my favorite links section, or click the following link to sign up.

Calvert Woodley Wines and Spirits

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