Bordeaux Vintage Round up: The Buying Guide- MARGAUX 2009

From the desk of Alejandro:

Chateau Palmer

SEVERAL weeks ago i wrote a post (here) about the 2009 vintage of Bordeaux, which is being held as the vintage of the century (which, by the way, somehow includes 1982– which in retrospect, was not that great since the wines are on their last legs) which i agree with, in spirit. The 2009’s were fabulous- but buyer be ware! Not all of it was excellent. I will continue in various parts to share my impressions and tasting notes: we start with my personal favorite; Margaux.

I will wax poetically about Margaux later- Margaux after all is known to be produce wines of feminine beauty and eternal grace. They are wines that are at the same melancholy and yet romantic; sort of like the lead of a plotless French film. YOu love it, and hate that you love it so damn much; only, because it is that sensual, that wonderful, that ethereal that loving it is somehow expected… and you hate it (and love it) and so it goes.

The following is a list of wines from the Margaux region from the 2009 vintage. The wines were all tasted March 29th in a controlled temperature room out of Riedel wine glasses. The wines were not tasted blind. All wines were barrel samples. Notes by Alejandro Ortiz.

Chateau Margaux

Alejandro’s Ratings:

    • O/P: Ok/ Poor
    • G: Good
    • VG: Very Good
    • GR: Great
    • E: Excellent (an intermediary between Great but not Fantastic)
    • FA: Fantastic
    • AM: Amazing

The first sub rating a “+” or “-“ is given for original impression on the nose and palate followed by a subsequent sub-rating for it’s overall performance within its rating.

  • Chateau Durfort Vivens
    • G+—
      • Massive with layered red berry fruit
  • Ch. Dauzac
    • G+
      • Broody and dark, muddles flavors.
  • Ch. Desmirail
    • VG+–
      • Deep black fruit with typical Margaux caress.

  • Ch. Du Tetre
    • VG—
      • Like walking into an abandoned flower-shop. Intense, animalic, and broody with just enough floweriness to keep it pretty.
  • Ch. Kirwan
    • G—
      • Boring but not terrible.
  • Ch. Siran
    • VG++-
      • Deep red with cluttered dusty flavors and velvetiness- sort of like an old stuffy yet handsome woman. That may not sound attractive, but the wine is very good!
  • Ch. Marquis d’Alesme-Becker
    • G+–
      • Bitter at tasting.
  • Ch. Rauzan-Gassies
    • VG—
      • Taut with perfumed center.
  • Ch. Prieure-Lichine
    • VG-GR
      • Maybe good rather then very good, nice and layered; one of the better PL’s yet from a usually boring estate (however well intentioned).
  • Ch. Giscours
    • VG+–
      • Deep and sensuous- fabulous!
  • Ch. Brane-Cantenac
    • VG-++
      • Seductive and bright- like a whisper of a long love gone
  • Ch. Cantenac-Brown
    • VG+–
      • Deep ‘brown’ oak and leafy aromas.
  • Ch. D’Issan
    • VG+–
      • Sensual, soft, timid and nervy- like making love to a virgin.
  • Second Tasting @ Chateau d’Issan: FA—
    • I interrupted a group of Korean delegates and was running late for another appointment but decided to be polite and taste the wine, again. I was totally surprised how different, or better, rather, the wine was. This happens, Variations are a fact of life—a side effect of a substance that is very much alive. The wine is an ethereal experience and carresesyour palate like sheets of red-stained silk duvet covers- marvelous! The second wine I fantastic- jump on this and don’t let go!
  • Ch. Malescot St. Supery
    • GR++
    • Second Tasting @ Chateau Malescot St. Exupery: FA—
      • Excellent red fruit- all the right angles of fruit, body, tannin with that silkiness and a refined acidity which betrays its patrician leanings. A fabulous wine. The second label if absolutely fantastic!
  • Third Tasting @ UGG Tasting: FA+–
    • See above
  • Ch. Lascombes
    • G–+
      • Massive, mysterious aromas of myrrh and Oudh mixed with a flowers. Could be toned down.
  • Ch. Palmer (tasted at Chateau Palmer)
    • FA—
      • The first tasted was the Alter Ego of Palmer, the estate’s second wine; and in truth it was spectacular and huge, massive. The tannins were more than I had ever tasted in a Margaux wine. Once you peeled away the heavy curtains of beefy tannins you arrived at a chocolate and cherry center without any sort of cloying sweetness—this is a French wine at heart, no doubt about it. But the Grand Vin made this colossus seem like Tom Thumb. Had there been a seat in the tasting room I would have had to sit down once I tasted the Chateau Palmer. The Alter Ego is probably the best Alter Ego ever made. The Grand Vin; well, I’ll tell you what—after a nuclear holocaust all that’s gong to be left is cockroaches and this wine. Frankly it was tough to taste and nearly impossible to see through. This is not a reflection on the wine, but rather the limitations of the human palate. The wine, ultimately, is spectacular. If you like Palmer this is a monolithic moment for the estate. If you don’t, then I suggest you get to know it.
  • Ch. Rauzan-Segla
    • GR+++
      • Pure seduction, velvet fruit and spice. Fabulous!
  • Second Tasting @ Ch. Rauzan-Segla
    • Things are done a bit different at the Chateau where you’re shown a lineup of several vintages including the 1996, 2007 and the 2008 for perspective (all great by the way); which I think is quite smart. Otherwise it’s like showing a person just one chord of a concerto without hearing the rest. Rauzan-Segla is one of these wines that I am fairly convinced I could pick out blind; as I write this I can almost smell it. It has a deep undercurrent of roses and red wild flowers soaked in wine with a powderiness that makes me wonder why people don’t wear it like perfume… then of course I remember its just better to wear it. RS sometimes borders on the “… is it getting to big?” but that has never happened as the wine never seizes to amaze with its grace and balance. An amazing wine. The second label “Segla” is better than some of the past Grand Vins, and that goes true with many second wines this vintage- not to mention because most second wines are only “second” wines in spirit as they are often from different vineyard sources spiked with second-tranche barrel selections and not merely the dregs of what’s been left from its big-brother. Nevertheless- Rauzan Segla you can’t go wrong!
  • Ch. Margaux
    • AM+++
      • It’s tough to not love Chateau Margaux and such a cliché to say “Best wine of the vintage” but if that’s what you heard—believe it. Pavillon Blanc of Château Margaux was marvelous, and one of their best so far—it has moved away from it’s waxy, Semillon-laden plainness to something far more elegant and whole. The Pavillon Rouge was flirtatious and coquette without betraying any of its breeding. But the Grand Vin solicited a communal gasp amongst the tasters when it was brought to their lips. It was mesmerizing. One wanted to take it into a corner and make love to it—figuratively of course.

Chateau d'Issan

Overall Impression of the Margaux 2009

  • VG-GR
    • Overall the Margaux appellation was one of the superstars of the vintage albeit with a great amount of variation. The estates closer to the Gironde produced far more superior wines with some of those a bit more inland producing wines which are a bit more “mudddled” and unfocused. Moreover this vintage shows off how economic resources in the cellar can pay off- sure, the vintage was a naturally excellent one (re: weather-wise) but the ‘haves’ made much much better wines than the ‘have nots’ (or the ‘have less’). As far as investment in the 2009’s are concerned—they’ll appreciate, but more importantly, if you want to hold them for a while and drink them later (much later) then the ’09 Margaux may be the longest living yet (unlike the 82’s, which are dying a slow, painful and ugly death).

2009 Margaux Top 3:

  1. Chateau Margaux
  2. Chateau Palmer
  3. Chateau d’Issan/ Chateau Rauzan-Segla

2009 Margaux Bargains and Great Underdogs:

  1. Chateau Malescot-St-Exupery
  2. Chateau Siran
  3. Chateau Brane-Cantenac

Guide to Man’s Drink (Summer 2010): The (Charbay) Screwdriver

Get screwed…

The world first heard of the ‘screwdriver’ in a 1949 Times article claiming Turkish and American engineers would concoct orange juice and vodka cocktails in their office with only their screwdrivers to stir the drink. Todays rendition hasn’t changed much it is, in effect, and will always be vodka and orange juice; but we suggest you step it up a bit. Ditch the Stoli and the overpriced Vodkas and reach for some hand-crafted Vodkas: TGG Recommends Tito’s Handmade Vodka (here) and our friends at Charbay (here); their clear Vodka is superb but here we take the screwdriver and give it a bit of an upgrade.

The Drink

The Equipment:

  • Highball Glass
  • Orange Wedge/ Slice

The Stuff:

  • Charbay Blood Orange Vodka (or any clear vodka- forget the artificially flavored Stoli…)
  • Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

The Drink:

  • Fill highball glass with ice pour one part vodka, two parts juice, stir.
  • Garnish with orange slice.
  • Lay back and enjoy.

Natural Fruit-extracted and hand-crafted vodkas...

Index of Superfluous Necessities: The Smoking Jacket Revisited

The reinvented classic

We here at TGG get more hits a day from gentlemen all around the world for our post on the Smoking Jacket (here) than for anything else. This tells us that there is a real pent-up hankering to know what the smoking jacket is all about. To be sure the Smoking Jacket is not a summer thing, although a light silk one could be quite comforting in a cool summer night. Its origins, like so many other things sartorial, lies in the English noble tradition. British patricians thought it rude to expose a woman’s delicate (and we contend superior) nose to “off odors” and so therefore when the gents took their leave from the ladies to have cigars and cognac, they exchanged their jackets for one used exclusively for smoking. If you were born after Star Wars (A New Hope, not The Phantom Menace) chances are you have never seen this fine specimen in the wild; instead it is relegated to pretentious types in movies and t.v. shows. Fear not; once upon a time madras was for geriatrics.

We say; Get your smoking jacket on!

Traditionally the smoking jacket is made of velvet and silk; a silk body with a velvet shawl-collar; although padded silk collars and full velvet ones exist; and although most old-fashioned smoking jackets are three-quarter length. The more modern renditions fit like a blazer.

Can’t remember Ford administration and have no idea what Russian dressing is? Then stick to a blazer-length smoking jacket; especially if you plan to wear it out. Moreover, smoking jackets now a days come in an array of colors; the most elegant being black and deep midnight blue, although fabulous renditions can be found in off-white and black. Stay away from greens, ambers and greys unless you wan to look like a pimp. And definitely no animal prints. Being summer, now is the perfect time to buy one as many retailers and haberdasheries alike have steep sales of “winter” items during summer time.

Here are The Young Gentlemen’s Guide picks for your superfluous needs:

The Classic

Full length and luxurious in classic burgundy color with satin lapels, three pockets and full Bemberg lining; great with a long cigar or your favorite book (we recommend a Davidoff Millennium Series stogie). This is a robe more than a jacket. From Paul Stuart $797.00

Gearing up for Fall/Winter 2010/2011 is a choice selection of smoking jackets from various designers including Armani, Ralph Lauren and, our favorite maker of what has to be the hippest and most fashioned forward of all Smoking Jackets: Dolce & Gabbana. (Prices vary).

Ultimately a smoking jacket is about you- your individuality, your taste and personal flair; your “esprit des corps” as the French would say or in ‘Merican “mojo.” There are many fantastic of the peg shirts, suits, blazers and shoes out there. If you get something made, get something unique.

The Billy Reid Smoking Jacket

You want a great smoking jacket that speaks of your own personal style and taste? Get one made. Bespoke Life IF there is ever an item to get made to exacting custom specifications (delimited by non other than yourself) a smoking jacket is it. Shawl collar or peak lapels? Are they velvet or padded silk? The length? Lined? Etc. Saville Row is the classic choice (Gieves & Hawkes, Henry Poole, or Huntsman) as are a number of American establishments such as Phineas Cole, Brooks Brothers, Ralph Laurent amongst others. In Europe choices are aplenty and in Asia Ascot Chang or Singapore’s Raffles Taylor can work wonders.

Bespoke Life from the NYT: Why Does This Pair of Pants Cost $550?

by: Eric Wilson for the New York Times | 28 April, 2010

EVEN in a season when designers made no secret about reining in prices to appeal to the newly chastened luxury consumer, it is still possible to walk into a store and wonder what exactly they were thinking when a pair of khaki cotton pants — right there on the hanger, no special packaging or 3G plan or anything — can cost as much as an iPad.

HOW MUCH WOULD YOU PAY? There is a rationale for the price of Band of Outsiders khakis, but does it make sense?

Never mind that classic button-fly chinos at Abercrombie & Fitch cost $70 or that Gap sells “original khakis” for $44.50. The fact that luxury chinos exist — and in surprising numbers — is another story, one that illustrates the challenge faced by designers to justify the still sky-high prices of their clothes. A distinctive design might strengthen the argument, but is $550 really a fair price for basic pants?

How about $480, for plain khakis from Michael Bastian? Or $495 for light cotton twill pants from Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen of The Row? Or $595 if they are by Giorgio Armani? Or $780 for ones with elasticized cuffs from Bottega Veneta? Or is $350, as Thom Browne charges for chinos, the right price? The range suggests that since the luxury bubble burst, designers have no clue what customers are willing to pay.

“The cost of creating those things has nothing to do with the price,” said David A. Aaker, the vice chairman of Prophet, a brand consulting firm. “It is all about who else is wearing them, who designed them and who is selling them.”

Yet, from the designers’ perspective, there is value to be found in pants that are thoughtfully designed with high-quality materials and labor. For new designers, like Scott Sternberg, whose Band of Outsiders label is largely defined by preppy basics that are studiously fitted and expensively priced, it costs more to make his clothes because they are often produced in small batches. His cotton gabardine khakis, sold at Bergdorf Goodman, cost $550.

“It sounds crazy to say this, I know, but our pants are a steal,” Mr. Sternberg said. To make his case, he gave a tour of the factory where they are made, Martin Greenfield in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where little has changed in the production of tailored clothing in a century.

A man was hovering over an 80-year-old contraption called a jump iron, hot enough to mold fabrics into shapes they will be unlikely to forget. Another man basted panels of suit fabric to springy canvas, which makes the garment more flexible. In a machine-made jacket, the canvas would be fused or glued into a suit. Mr. Sternberg’s khakis are tailored like dress pants, and the details are largely sewn by hand, including buttonholes and split waistbands, which can be altered easily. The fabric, which costs $24 a yard, plus $3 a yard to import, is a cotton gabardine fine enough to withstand basting stitches. About two yards, counting for boo-boos and such, is used to make a pair of pants, so the fabric cost is $54.

CHECK OUT THE CUFFS Bottega Veneta cotton pants, $780.

At Martin Greenfield, a union shop where employees earn about $13 an hour, before benefits, it takes an average of four hours of labor to make a pair of pants. The pants pass through the hands of at least 20 people in the process of cutting fabric, adding pockets and building out a fly. So with labor and fabric, the cost to make Mr. Sternberg’s pants was about $110 — a fifth of what they cost in a store.

The final price reflects the markups of the designer and the retailer, what they charge to cover expenses, pay their employees and, with luck, make a profit on what sells to cover the losses on what does not. Mr. Sternberg doubles the cost to arrive at a wholesale price of $220. The retailer adds another markup, typically a factor of 2.5, which brings us to $550.

Is it too much?

Not if that’s what people are willing to pay, Mr. Aaker said. Jeffrey New York had some nice Gucci chinos with a tiny tab of red-and-green striped ribbon at the waistband for about $500. They sold out.

A machine might make pants more cheaply, Mr. Sternberg said, but for a designer who wants to be known for quality, what would be the value in that?

The Almanac of What the Modern Man Needs to Know: Bordeaux- the rules.

The 1855 Classification of the Medoc.

An appellation is a legally defined wine growing region with a specific climate, soil type, and geographical boundary which endows its wines with characteristic unique to it. For more.

Bordeaux is one of the world’s most famous wine regions and is located in western France in the Aquitaine region on the banks of the Gironde. The “right bank” refers to the wine regions found on the right of the Gironde (Pommerol and St. Emilion amongst the most prominent) while the Left Bank contains the much for familiar appellations of St. Estephe, Paulliac, Margaux and Sauternes amongst others).

What was it?

From Wiki-answer: For the 1855 Exposition Universelle de Paris, Emperor Napoleon III requested a classification system for France‘s best Bordeaux wines which were to be on display for visitors from around the world. Brokers from the wine industry ranked the wines according to a château‘s reputation and trading price, which at that time was directly related to quality. The result was the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855.

The wines were ranked in importance from first to fifth growths (crus). All of the red wines that made it on the list came from the Médoc region except for one: Château Haut-Brion from Graves. The white wines, then of much less importance than red wine, were limited to the sweet varieties of Sauternes and Barsac and were ranked only from first great growth to second growth.

The Deciders...

The Médoc Classification of 1855 (brought to you by Wikipedia)

In French Les Grands Crus classés en 1855. Châteaux are listed with their commune (village), and their AOC in parenthesis, if different from the commune.

First Growths (Premiers or 1er Crus)

  • Château Lafite Rothschild, Commune de Pauillac, Haut-Médoc (archaically Château de la Fite, Laffite, Lafitte)
  • Château Latour, Commune de Pauillac, Haut-Médoc (archaically La Tour de Segur)
  • Château Margaux, Commune de Margaux (archaically Château Margau)
  • Château Haut-Brion, Commune de Pessac, Graves (archaically Château Hautbrion, Houtbrion, Ho-Bryan, Obryan, Ho Bryen)
The only Château situated in Graves rather than Médoc, and therefore the only Château on the list that is allowed to sell a dry white wine under the same name and appellation as the red wine.
  • Château Mouton Rothschild, Commune de Pauillac, Haut-Médoc
(reclassified from Second Growth status in 1973) (archaically Château Branne-Mouton)

Second Growths

(officially Seconds Crus, sometimes written as Deuxièmes Crus)

Third Growths (Troisièmes Crus)

Fourth Growths (Quatrièmes Crus)

Fifth Growths (Cinquièmes Crus)

Sauternes and Barsac

  • Barsac Châteaux may call themselves Barsac or Sauternes.

Superior First Growth (Premier Cru Supérieur)

First Growths (Premiers Crus)

(there’s more…)

The Place: Chateau Margaux

Word to the wise and novice alike: This list must be treated historical, as it is by no means a living document. A fourth-growth chateau may produce better wine than a second growth (and some do); but this classification is unmovable and therefore represents a once accurate snap-shot. As a guide It’s great, but not gospel

Moreover the 1855 Classification if nores the St. Emilion classification in whose vineyards lie famous names like Chatau Cheval Blanc, Ausone and Canon whilst in Pomerol (both right bank) there is no classification albeit superstars like Petrus, La Fleur and Chateau Vieux Chateau Certan.

See also on Wikipedia:

Smells like Summer: “At the Beach 1966” by CB I Hate Perfume

B I Hate Perfume, yes this is the name of the perfume house, is another one of the perfume world’s badass non-conformists. Led by the indomitable Christopher Brosius (of Demeter Dirt and Snow fame)  CBIHP recalls the very personal smells of his memories; perfumes with a story to tell. Why does he “hate” perfume: “Perfume is too often an ethereal corset trapping everyone in the same unnatural shape.

These are not just individual scents in their own right (i.e. in the bottle) but because of Briosus’ unique water-based formula they linger on your skin and interact with it thus differing from person to person. Our take on it? They’re just cool…

The Stuff

What and Where: Find it at

From the Luckyscent Website:

The Scoop

At The Beach is the exact recreation of a hot summer’s day spent lying in the sun and the scent of Coppertone, the sand and the surf filling your nose. For perfumer Christopher Brosius, this was a trip back to his summers on the North Atlantic (which we think must smell just like the Pacific.) An absolutely brilliant and faithful interpretation of classic Coppertone meets beach, there is no other perfume we’ve ever smelled that manages to capture a specific moment—long-ago summers on the beaches of America—as this one does. Even if you were landlocked and a pool was your beach, if you loved the smell of classic Coppertone tanning lotion, your jaw will hit the floor when you try this.

At The Beach 1966 Notes

Coppertone 1967, blended with a new accord Christopher created especially for this perfume, “North Atlantic.” Other notes: wet sand, seashell, driftwood and just a hint of boardwalk

TGG’s New Look

New Look, New Attitude same great dedication to the “Bespoke Life.” Check us out on Facebook as well as give us your feedback at tell us what you want to hear, what you want us to cover and what you want us to explore.

New Features:

– The Question guy: ask questions, food, love, clothes, gadgets- get answers; the new column will be released in July; send us an email us at with the subject title “QG”

– Continuing Coverage of the 2009 Bordeaux vintage

– Conslusions of Fragrances of Summer

– Gentlemen’s Wardrobe

– New Editions of Superfluous Necessities

Bespoke Life: Review- Creed Winsdor

Not sure if it qualifies as a summer-scent but it is great! I covered it here some time back when it was released by Creed as a special limited edition line of 300 flacons. The perfume “Windsor, created in 1936 for King Edward VIII of England from ingredients grown in the British Empire.”  So what does it smell like?

The Stuff

It starts off with a strong Juniper note (India) to a quite intense parsley aroma, a sort of green cleanness of English fern. With a bit more time that greenness begins to open up to a slight powderiness and a very small hint of tuberose (maybe) and bitter orange with that strong fern characteristic front and center. Smelling it on paper, performs quite differently on skin however.

TGG Classification: Evening Spring and summer / Sunny Fall

Suggested Use: Evening white party on a boat. The proverbial late evening outdoor dinner. A date.

Week 2 of use: I must say this fragrance has grown on me more and more as I continue to use it and what seemed to me, initially, as a very powedery white aldehyde scent has revealed to be completely different: I get green, lots of it, fern, willow, and juniper with hints of lime oil in the background. Very sophisticated and very, very nice…

Bordeaux 2009: Vintage Round-up

1 of several…


Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend what is colloquially known as “En Primeur” week in Bordeaux. This is essentially a week where Bordeaux chateau throw their cellar doors open to importers and journalists from throughout the world and offer them a “sneak peak” of the vintage—years before its actually released.

Hundreds taste the wines, dozens write them up. Slowly the chateau release their prices to merchants who, in-turn, forward them to importers and down the line until they reach your friendly neighborhood wine store who then may call you breathlessly to tell you that “… Chateau Haut-Brion just released their prices; and it’s a steal… only 500.00 euros a bottle…” You pay upfront as does the store, merchant and upward through the chain. The wine, still in barrel, won’t be bottled for another year. In fact you won’t see it for about three to four years—but the point is that by the time you receive the actual bottle (or it arrives at your local wine shop) it may well be worth over 600-700Euros making you a nice profit, should you choose to sell it. The wine, in theory, should appreciate in value as the years and decades pass (in relation to the longevity of the vintage, the reputation of the Chateau to make age worthy wines and the auction index on that particular vintage/property).

This is the futures game and, should you have some cash in the bank, a good guide and a great vintage on your hands, you could stand to make some money (or buy some really nice wines…).

So- we have a guide: yours truly, and we have a plan:  We will present to you some of the outstaidn Chateaux of the 2009 vintage.

Bordeaux 2009: The gist

Without boring you we can tell you this: 2009 was an outstanding vintage (the eminent Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker both hailing it as better than the 2005!)

Well is it? I’m not sure or, should I say, not totally convinced.

The Bordelaise have been hit hard by the Great Recession and need a blockbuster badly—their lust for it was palpable. Just as obvious was their enthusiasm to keep spreading the idea of 2009’s God-given superiority to anything that has come before it.

It so happens that back in 2006 I attended the futures week and tasted the nascent 2005’s first hand and I can draw some comparisons.

2005 vs 2009

  • 2005 was consistently-great; everyone, everywhere in Bordeaux made great wine. 2009 is far more inconsistent—some appellations doing better than others while in some the differences between the “well heeled estates” and the “petit chateau” was huge.
  • 2005’s were dreamy on the onset; bright red fruit with a perfectly seamless balance between tannin and acid. 2009’s are more monolithic. HUGE tannin levels, these are furious wines which when great are amazing—and they know it.
  • 2009 brings with it lower overall alcohol levels in-keeping with global trends.
  • 2005 was released in the middle of a spending orgy while the 2009’s come out in the midst of the check-book dark-ages. What does that mean? They’ll be relatively more affordable and can, in theory, appreciate at a steeper climb over the years. The ’05 vintage was so top-heavy that not only have they lost a bit of their value but also they are largely unsellable.
  • 2009 is good, damn good, but unlike 2005 you need to be careful where and what you buy.

Bordeaux 2009 Vintage Roundup: Appellation Sensations

The Place

An appellation is a legally defined wine growing region with a specific climate, soil type, and geographical boundary which endows its wines with characteristic unique to it. For more.

Bordeaux is one of the world’s most famous wine regions and is located in western France in the Aquitaine region on the banks of the Gironde. The “right bank” refers to the wine regions found on the right of the Gironde (Pommerol and St. Emilion amongst the most prominent) while the Left Bank contains the much for familiar appellations of St. Estephe, Paulliac, Margaux and Sauternes amongst others).

2009 will prove in the annals of history to be a breakthrough for Bordeaux; both in terms of hype and in terms of what is ultimately a reconciliation with what has been a dour global economy. This is not lost on the Bordelaise and they have been quick, energetic and unrealities in proselytizing the idea that 2009 may well top any vintage in the last century.

It’s good. 2009, in fact, was great. Some wines reaching a monumental elegance balanced with a power seen nowhere in 2005. But, it’s a gilded boulevard with potholes. Unlike the evenly-high quality of the 2005s, ’09 delivers nothing short of magic but not consistently throughout.

2009 Performance by Appellation: (a snap shot)

  • Moulis, Listrac, Cotes-de-Bourg: Great and amazing values. Comparable to ‘off’ years these wines are generous, balanced and delicious.
  • Margaux: a minefield if any. Some guys created magic (Margaux, d’Issan, Rauzan-Segla) while others were stalwartly disappointing making backwards wines with little character.
  • Haut-Medoc: overall very good (La Lagune, La Tour Carnet), some dogs.
  • St. Julien: Overall great and consistent.
  • Paulliac: a bit spotty but for the most part fabulous.
  • St. Estephe: Monumental, huge wines with power and grace unlike anything I have ever seen
  • Graves: Overall very good whites with wispy red-berry reds
  • Pessac-Leognan: Very, very good in both red and white; very consistent.
  • Pommerol: Overall good, not great—but when very good, they’re amazing.
  • St. Emilion: Very inconsistent. Clay-rich valley floor vineyards made uninspired and muddled reds (Cheval-Blanc amongst them) while the vineyards on limestone soils created wines of amplitude and sophistication (a stellar Chateau Ausone as a result).
  • Sauternes (and Barsac): fantastic!

5 Things of the Moment: Summer Flash-Forward

5 things to try this summer:

1- Madras:

The Look

Yes we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: try some Madras. Check out our post here about madras do’s and don’t but remember, start small—once you see how comfy and lightweight this material is it’ll become a favorite.

2- Deep-Tissue Massage:

The Spot

A massage helps circulation as well as soothes the body; plus it’s relaxing as hell. Forget the happy ending and with it seedy massage parlors; for the best spa/massage experience head to hotels. While recommending up-market hotels for spa may seem a bit contrived very few other places (independents especially) have the economies of scale, expertise,  not to mention supply-chains to be able to do the stuff right, and, if we may make yet another sweeping reference; the Asian hotels do it best: Mandarin Oriental, Ritz-Carlton, The Standard, The Penninsula, The Four Seasons, GHM Hotels.

Take heed; most men are uncofortable with massages for avarious reasons; they think it’s too feminine (it’s not…); they don’t like people touching them (these are trained pro’s); or are afraid of arousal (which does happen, but… alas, these are trained pros- just apologize earnestly they’ll work, ahem, around the problem).

Here are some basic “spa” etiquette points. And although it goes without saying; “happy endings” are usually NOT in a spas repertoire of services.

3- The Aperitif: Aperol Spritzer

The Drink

Sounds dumb, but there’s nothing like a late-afternoon drink sometime between the beach and dinner. An aperitif is all about relaxing and taking it all in: the Parisians and Romans are masters at this. So, forget the beer, never mind the champagne and grab a classic Gin Fizz (gin, soda water, a squeeze of lemon/lime juice and a splash of sugar syrup or agave nectar) or something far more novel; an Aperol spritzer: glass, ice, a shot of Aperol liqueur (bitter orange flavor without the overbearing-ness of say Campari) soda water and an orange slice, forgo the umbrella.

4- Summer Wine:

The Wine

Forget the Sauvignon Blanc or (gasp) Pinot Girgio; while real men may wear Madras and fret over fragrance; they certainly do not order a Pinot Grigio with their dignity in tact (you do buy at home for wifey…). So here are a few things to try, order, and enjoy by a body of water, near sand, or on a hot day:

  1. Albarino (tried, tested, and true)
  2. Dry Rose (Provence Rose…)
  3. Anything from Alto Adige (Italy; north-east) that comes in white.
  4. Crisp Assyrtiko from Greece
  5. Vinho Verde from Portugal (if you’re paying more than 5USD for it forget it)
  6. Dry Riesling (i.e. not the sweet stuff in a blue bottle…)

5- Disconnect:

The Solution

Let go, leave the phone at home, turn off the computer, forget all about connectivity and try and make-belive like you live in a world without Facebook, tweeting, email, skype or IM. F$*k it all—even if its just one day a week; and while your at it; sit back in your cool madras shirt, sip on an aperol or dry rose and chill out while you contemplate a much needed massage and spend time with those you love. Cheers…