TGG Answer Corner: November

It seems the Young Gentlemen’s movement is gaining some steam. In our Q & A forum we have received questions and queries from Gentlemen-in-Training and the Established-Gentry alike.

RIGHT, let’s get to them…

QUESTION:

What kind of V-neck sweater is posted as the “summer-into-fall sweater”?

The "V"

ANSWER: It’s a Ralph-Lauren Cotton “V-Neck Crew” (find it here). There are many sweaters out there and for us type of sweater is as integral as choosing underwear. This is why I always recommend you try them on- all v-necks are not made the same: cut, length, elastic waist or none, higher armholes etc. Either way, a sweater should be as snug as your shirt- which is to say fitted but not tight. It definitely should be billowy or baggy. I have a handful of sweaters and whether you’re the “lightweight cashmere” type or the cotton-type the difference for me between spring and Fall is more about color than weight.

QUESTION:

Hi… could you suggest a Winter Perfume for daytime and evening time wear for men?

The spirtz

ANSWER: I think the biggest problem with so-called “winter scents” which is a bit of an ambitious and somewhat overzealous title, is that they can be quite powerful. The determinate factor, for men’s fragrances, between say, a “spring/summer” cologne versus a “winter/fall” one is, of course, what it smell’s like. That’s to say, summer/spring fragrances tend to be on the fresh, citrus, mossy side while winter/fall ones tend heavier towards spices, woods, musks, etc. There is, on both side, a danger to overdo all of it and smell like an Ottoman bazaar.

My favorite all-day ‘cold weather fragrance by far is Feuilles de Tabac by Harris Miller as it is neither too heavy, nor too fleety – it doesn’t dissolve into a soft powderiness which is ok in men’s fragrances, but for me, a little to precious if you’re in jeans or flannel.

The Fall/Winter Fail-safe

Find it at Aedes de Venustas or Luckyscent.com

QUESTION:

I’m looking for a cold-weather jacket that’s both refined and sporty, not navy, warm but coat-like. Something I can wear with jeans or with a tie. Any suggestions?

The Archetype

Yes! This is a tricky category but an old and noble one. In fact, the modern “sports jacket” (which resembles a suit jacket) has its history forgotten piece of sartorial history called the “Norfolk Jacket.” This jacket, designed for hunting in the English country-side, was usually made of tweed and was embellished with belts and pleats as well as an array of pockets for ones supplies, but I digress (see picture above, man in background).

Having said all that, when I opt for a jacket theat is meant to be far more sporty than the usual modern ‘sports-coat’ I like something that recalls this heritage whether with pleats, outer-pockets, patches or epaulets—something that hints at a bit of adventure.

For this reason, should you not be the epaulets-type (we can’t all be) I would recommend the Suede Jacket (or suede-overshirt as it is called in other corners). It’s soft as, well suede, comfortable, warm but no chunkiness to kill the cool.

The No-Fuss Suede

Another option is a vest and while I’m not always easily impressed, I was blown away by Ralph Lauren’s “Beaumont Vest” (below | Buy it here) which is accented with leather-patches on the shoulders and all kinds  of other ‘masculiness’ that may quiet the dissenters who think it’s all a bit to precious.

All right folks that’s all for now- but keep those questions and comments coming!

If you’ve got a question – we’ve got an answer! Write us:

tgg@theyounggentlemensguide.com

TGG Answer Corner: Q & A

It seems the Young Gentlemen’s movement is gaining some steam. In our Q & A forum we have received questions and queries from Gentlemen-in-Training and the Established-Gentry alike. The most persistent theme being: Being A Gentleman; how do I do it?

A: Keep reading the blog, spread the word, and remember: “Classic is timeless” paired with “Less is More” (and a dash of “substance over brands” is a good start and a mantra to keep with you.

Okay, let’s get to it!

Dear TGG,

I am in a bit of conundrum. I feel somewhat abashed writing to you about this, but hopefully you can offer me some insight… I am an aspiring young gentleman at the age of twenty-three. I think to disclose this fact to my comrades would make me feel somewhat ostracized. It is unfortunate that we live in a society that feels a resentment for those who are concerned about appearance and live the hedonistic lifestyle. How do you think I could practice being a young gentleman without giving off the notion that I am snobbish or dislocated from my peer group? Or do you feel that this challenge that all gentleman today have to face? On that note aside, do you happen to recommend a good reference book that I can follow to improve myself and learn more of the art of being a gentleman.

Sincerely, Aspring Young Gentleman

Answer:


he·don·ism/ˈhēdnˌizəm/Noun

1. The pursuit of pleasure.

2. The ethical theory that pleasure is the highest good and proper aim of human life

WAIT, what’s wrong with that? Nothing.

Some people don’t get it, but it would also be a glaring oversight to not note that many religious dogma carry a footnote on Hedonism: Don’t do it. But, this is silly, the pursuit of pleasure is as unique as the grooves on the tips of our fingers which make up our fingerprints. For Mother Theresa (if I can continue on this tangent) her cause was her hedonism. For others that pursuit may be different in nature but never in aim.

If this is your life’s philosophy, why disclose it at all? This is your life, live it and pursue what is ultimately excellence in everything you do (eat, wear, drive, are a part of, believe etc…)— if genuine (and grounded in substance) people will recognize this. If one’s intentions are not grounded in substance or are false, then such aspirations will come off exactly as that; aspirational, snobbish, and obnoxious.

How we define what it is to be a Young Gentleman answers the second part of your question: is a Young Gentleman A) a male fashionista who indulges in reflecting the world’s runways and indulges in all things Gucci while donning an Hermes belt with a huge “H” on the buckle; B) a ‘dandy’ who walks around in innocuous social situations (at the Café, pub, or relaxing with friends) in monogrammed velvet slippers and owns a collection of pocket squares and cravats which are all worn generously OR C) is a Young Gentleman one who understands that life is a mix of pursuing pleasure and dreams while simultaneously understanding our obligation to the world and those around us never forgetting to indulge in celebrating life’s occasions with the best the world has to offer.

We think a little bit of B and a whole lot of C (we can attest to our Editor-in-Chief’s large collection of custom-made cravattes and his yearning for velvet-slippers). All men who wish to care a little bit more about what they wear and spend a little more time worrying about what they look like will always face certain amount of consternation- this depends largely on what part of the world you live in.

Go to Capri or Napoli in the summer and the endless cascade of pinks, light blues, and faded yellows on men wearing close-fitting pants and cropped jackets will amaze you (all straight macho-men by the way). Try to dress like that in Detroit, Michigan or in Podgorica, Montenegro and you may seem somewhat out of place and ripe for the picking. To be a Gentleman is, yes, to dress… but to dress timelessly, to have a style which is the most understatedly apparent in the details; and those details (all of them) are never forgotten; what’s more those details extend to every corner of your life.

So, Aspiring Young Gentleman, go forth into the world follow your bliss and forget what anyone has to say about it- for your happiness is, ultimately, your own private pleasure.

And remember… Although it may have taken you 45 minutes to get ready a man should never look like he took more than 5 minutes to do so. Anything else comes off as contrived (i.e. trying to hard).

PS- Alejandro’s personal favorite (and we agree with our dear Editor-in-Chief) is GENTLEMAN: A TIMELESS GUIDE TO FASHION (Ullmann) by Bernhard Roetzel which you can find here: http://amzn.to/msprmg

The Young Gentlemen’s Summer Guide 2011


The temperature keeps rising, the days longer and the nights become balmier as Spring unfurls into summer but not to worry The Young Gentlemen’s Guide is here!

Although not quite “hot” yet in most parts of the world (Europe is still quite cool, and the band that stretches from Barcelona through Milan, Istanbul and Dubrovnik a bit on the grey and rainy-side) the time has come to get ready for summer nonetheless. For the true gentleman, one that eschews the wonts and desires of trends and fashionistas respectively what then does summer mean to him?

Wardrobe

Time to loosen it up… hot weather overall all too often translates into the degeneration of a man’s attention to the ‘smartness’ of his attire: i.e. when it gets hot, he gets sloppy. No reason; beating the heat does not mean dressing any less sharp than before-. Size is still king, wearing a size to two too big does not equal cool (in either use of the word). Play around with fabrics; most makers, houses, haberdashers and designers offer lighter-weight versions of their shirts and trousers.

  • Looking Forward (Posts to Come…):
    • 5 Things of the Moment: The summer wardrobe.
    • Linen Primer
    • “Color Me Bad: The Ins and Outs of Bright Summer Sartorial Splendor”

Drink

The time for “dark spirits” (re: Scotch, Cognac, etc…) is slowly coming to an end. But if you still can’t put down your Bourbon try the myriad “white whiskeys” or “moonshine” out on the market today; sadly many of these are only available in the States. Gin, as ever, is appropriate (and welcome) at any time of the year and a Gin Fizz (Gin+Soda Water+Squeeze Lime) is always welcome (leave the Vodka for another time). No spirit is as identifiable with summer as Rum and with it the brilliance of a TRUE Daiquiri (one part rum+two pars lime juice+1 part sugar/ shake/ on ice + bitters); this was one of Hemingway’s favorites, often called the “Hemingway Daiquiri”- one sip and you’ll know why. Stick with traditional white Rums (Don Q, Methuselah, Havana Club) or Premium whites (Orinoco, Cane 5 etc) and don’t skimp on the fresh lime.

  • Looking Forward on Man-Can-Drink:
    • Summer Gin Drinks
    • The Hemingway Daiquiri
    • The Perfect Mojito
    • Punch

Wine

Need we remind any gentleman out there that once the temperature surpasses a certain point at midday reds are out of the question. Most of the French (especially those sun bathing on the Mediterranean coast) may argue that that point is 77F while others may argue this point the dictum stands: If it’s hot / sunny enough to get a tan, it’s warm enough for a rose. There we said it. Man-up, rose is not foppish, nor is it supposed to be sweet… a great rose carries with it the refreshing crispness of a white with the nuanced romance of a red; all in a wine that can be enjoyed with anything from a burger, to grilled prawns or a beautiful sunset.  For an authentic summer rose stick to those of Provence  (southern France).

  • Looking Forward on Man-Can-Wine:
    • The Rose Primer
    • California Summer-Wine Round-up
    • The Allure of Italian Whites
    • Obscure Pleasures

Fragrance

You DON’T HAVE TO change your fragrance with the seasons, this is true—but you don’t have to stop wearing as Jacket either… it’s just nice to. Most of life’s pleasures are purely elective and those small details which bring civilization into our daily lives can too be casted as frivolous—but then again that’s their nature (so stop complaining already). At this point all the heavy oriental fragrances, the colognes with heavy woods and musks and those with an orange hue need to go away (remember: cool, dark, place…). Reach out for fragrances which remind you of the pleasures of summer. Last year we brought you the “Smells Like Summer” which we are bringing back on 2011 with a new line-up of fragrances. Summer is the time for fragrances that are light, airy and err on the green, fresh, citrus or aquatic side. Stay tuned. (We like the Heeley Sel Marin above… review coming soon).

  • Looking Forward on Smell’s Like Summer 2011
    • Summer 2011 Basics
    • The Aquatics
    • Fresh and Citrus

Life

Summer is time to let go, relax, and through out all the baggage. Take up a hobby; sky dive, learn to fly, go boating but whatever you do…. Relax.

  • Looking Forward on Bespoke Life:
    • A boat all your own…
    • A Man, A Plane
    • Superfluous Necessities
    • Ron Tulotta keeps lighting up our blog with his Cuban Cigar posts
    • And more!

Stay tuned and join the discussion, leave your comments and follow us on Twitter (TGG_Insider) and Facebook!

The Almanac of What a Man Needs to Know: Winter Cologne

To many, winter and its smells, are more associated with the celebrations, rituals and foods of the season than with any other particular thing.

THIS, of course, differs depending on your particular cultural and ethnic background, but for most winter means musky tones; burning wood, pine, cinnamon, spices, etcetera. Throw into this mix, a healthy does of celebratory food which can range from the scent of masala and fish sauce, to jerk seasoning and roasting goose and, well, you get the idea… it’s a whole lot of smells thrown in together. So why add more?

The Difficulty of Choice…

Most men’s fragrance-choice gets dictated by 1) what their father wore 2) what they have worn more or less since high-school or college and/or 3) what their partner, girlfriend, wife etc has bought for them. Gentlemen; is this any way to truly choose anything that defines you as a person? We think not.

Man meets Fragrance.

The Ritual

As we covered in the “In an Out of Summer Colognes…(here)” there are some basics in the world of men wearing cologne which we will paraphrase here:

1- You should, but don’t have to, switch-up your cologne/scent two to three times a year; if anything, keep it simple: a scent for when it’s cold, and one for when it’s hot. Also, should a long vacation or trip be in the schedule, don’t be afraid to pick a small bottle of something up to wear during this time—say a Turkish inspired cologne for a month in Istanbul and the Bosphorus… it will always bring back great memories every time you smell it.

2- Buy small bottles. The smaller the better- most scents perform at their peak for 2 years or so, especially those with more natural compositions which bring us to the second:

3- Don’t buy scents at a drug-store: these are often left-over dregs which have been stored carelessly and are often years old. Stick to (yes, annoying) department stores perfume counters (insist you know what you like) or check out www.luckyscent.com where you can browse by scent, producer and even order up as many samples as your heart desires.

4- Wear the stuff- to go to the drug-store, for a date, to lounge around the house: consider it aroma-therapy.

And remember:

5- You’re not supposed to smell cologne several feet away; in fact if a someone with their eyes closed can tell you’ve walked into a small room because of the smell of your cologne you’re wearing to much.

How much is enough (and this goes for the ladies too, a lot of women out there wear waaaay to much of the stuff…)? The idea is that only when someone gets close to you, enough to kiss you, then only then can tell you’re wearing a cologne. So that it is an integral part of you, an integral part of your presence, not an entirely different being that announces itself by its smell. No she (or he) is supposed to smell your cologne as a symbiosis between the perfumer’s art and your own chemistry.

Right! On with it!

Winter perfumes should not smell like a Christmas tree, nor remind you of Santa. That’s not the point- but because of the festivities, food, cold, and associated minutia encircling the winter season fragrances for this time tend to be a bit more substantial: woods, spices and musks.

The Winter Archetype: Brown Spices

Here we may hear such scents are “Orientals” which imply Indian sandalwood, star anise, and coriander, let’s say. Animalist scents, as uncouth as this may sound, is popular during this time, it gives you, its wearer, a bit of erotic mystique. These are namely ambergris (the best way we can put this… think of it as fermented sperm-whale honey), musks (most are synthetic…) and civet (a wild-cat… nuff said).

The Raw Ingredient: Sandalwood (Santal)

Moreover, whereas “fresh” citrus scents are apt in summer, winter (and fall for that matter) call for more cooked, roasted, and/or caramelized flavors: baked apples, burnt orange peel and the ever popular and fragrant bergamot (the orange which flavors otherwise ‘standard black’ earl grey tea.

Leathers have also become popular in fragrances as has, thanks to inroads made into perfumery, smells such as “smokiness”, all of which add a little bit of mystery and anticipation to the wearer, and that’s what you want!

Coming up: Smell’s like 2011 – Gentlemen’s Winter Fragrances

The Almanac of What a Man Needs to know: Saville Row

A Gentleman dresses and no other two word sum this up as much as Saville Row.

The Sanctum(s)

IN the world of men’s attire there is two words which represent the center of men’s sartorial universe: Saville Row.

In London, Westminster to be exact, tucked in a small road east of Hyde Park in London, between Old Burlington Street and the hectic Regent Street, is the Mecca of men’s fashion by way of hand-cut and stitched suits and hand-folded ties.

The uniqueness and fame of Saville Row now is a given, but once this street was the recluse of tailor-craftsmen who perfected their craft through the generations and those who followed them here, scissors in hand,  to learn the craft (namely Jewish, Hungarian and German tailors) and the men who flocked to them in order to patronize their art. Namely English Gentleman.

The Space(s)

Saville Row’s reputation for fine-cut and expertly executed men’s clothes soon spread and Saville Row became the globally synonymous with all things male and sartorial. From royalty and dignitaries, to Hollywood glitterati (indeed, from Cary Grant to George Clooney) and tycoons of industry, all came to Saville Row to get their hands on a unique, one-off, hand-made and stitched garment that was made exclusively for them. This cloth, this suit was “spoken for…” or “Bespoken…” and hence the origin of term ‘bespoke’.

What makes Saville Row, Saville Row?

The Craftsmen

In the Row, it’s not about a designer it’s about an experience and a craftsmanship and skill, now almost extinct, that makes a suit, a work of art. The star of the show is the tailor (although he may well tell you it’s the cloth).

“In the Row,” there are several dozen tailors and each august house, usually more than a century old, bears venerable names like ‘Henry Poole’, ‘Gieves and Hawkes’, and ‘Turnbull & Asser’. There is very little actual clothing inside, instead, reams of cloth, from fine wools to Irish tweed line dark-wooden shelves.

The Choices...

Here a gentleman is at home, here he chooses, from cut, to fit, to drape to color and cloth what his new suit will look like and the magic starts:

The Process

  1. Once you and the tailor (or cutter; as he is the person who will “cut” the cloth out of kraft paper cut-outs based on your measurements) decide on the overall look and feel of a suit (soft shoulders, single-breast, two buttons, etc.) he will begin to measure you.

The Details

  1. This is not just a couple of swift and simple measurements; this is everything; from the angle of your back and shoulders to the exact measurements of both arms (as most people have one arm longer than the other).  Other physical particularities of the gentleman-in-question are also noted down; usually in code like DLS “dropped left shoulder”; FS “forward stomach”; SLH “slight hunch” etc. These are all important, for the tailor’s job is to craft a suit around these physical particularities so that he may camouflage them on the gentleman. This suit, regardless of your body, will fit PERFECTLLY because it is made for you, and only you.
  1. After the tailor/cutter takes your measurements, he begins to draw the shape of the various panels which will make-up the suit, usually on brown-paper; this is where the art comes in for he only has hard measurements to guide him when he draws, for example, the arch of the shoulders. This is the architecture of the suit.

The Pattern

  1. All the panels the cutter drew on the paper are cut out; at this point he may pin this paper-prototype together in order to see the overall shape of the suit. Once satisfied, he will begin to trace the shapes with chalk on the chosen fabric. Craftsmanship here is key; for the tailor needs to make sure that whatever patterns are on the fabric, all match exactly at the seams once the suit is put together.

The Drawing

  1. Now comes the cutting itself, always with sheers, always by hand.

The Cut

  1. After the cutting the various panels are hand-stitched to form the trousers, jacket and wais-coast/vest. Now comes the first fitting.

The Craft

  1. A “Bespoke” suit is an exercise in patience; there may be more than four to five fittings, although usually three- this first one, where the suit is dotted throughout with white thread and barely holding together, let’s the tailor know how the shape, size, and style fit you. Here he may make notes for any adjustments needed; at this point, every single thing on the suit can be altered.

The first fitting (courtesy Freeman's Sporting Club - NYC)

 

  1. Once the first fitting is finished, the tailor takes the suit apart into its various pieces and begins tweaking the details as per the last fitting. Now it’s time to make the first of the final drafts.

The Final Draft

  1. The suit-maker then begins to give the suit, particularly the jacket, it’s strength, the “adding meat onto the bones” moment; our craftsman meticulously hand-stitches horse-hair, cotton or canvas onto the layers of cloth that make up the suit in order to give it it’s shape, drape, and feel. This is one of the main differences between hand-made and mass-produced, as the latter (even expensive designer brands) are usually hot-glued in place. With horsehair in particular, each wear will help it mold it to the shape of your body.

The 'bones' of the suit

10. Measurements and cutting down, now comes the labor-intensive process of marking the button-holes by stitching around the cut. The suit is lined, cuffs cut, measured and fitted and buttons sown-on. Finally the suit is ironed (one of the few if not the only time a suit jacket should be ironed).

The Press

11. Fitting time. You, the customer, tries on the suit; does it feel good? Is it too long? How is the rise? Are the cuffs adequate etc. More adjustments are made and the suit finalized and given one last quick steam.

The finishing touches (ala iPad no less...)

12. Now, after weeks, if not months, your suit (and your’s only) is finally finished and ready to wear!

The Classic

Average price of a bespoke-suit: $2,500-$5,000USD

Superfluous? Hardly- A suit is supposed to be a high-quality, high ticket item. It is better to have one GREAT suit than a dozen cheap or mass-produced one.

TGG VIDEO: Saville Row

http://en.jyskebank.tv/012867943781302/dr-qvortrups-cab-fine-feathers-make-fine-birds

The Suit

TGG’S Guide to Saville Row:

  1. Anderson & Shepperd
  2. Huntsman
  3. Henry Poole
  4. Gieves & Hawkes
  5. Kilgour

Some terminology:

  • Bespoke: The suit, shirt or other item (shoes) are made to fit your body and all the measurements from your body are used in its cutting and production.
  • Custom-made or Made-to-measure: An existing pattern or pattern is adjusted and or fitted to better suit you.
  • Off-the-peg: Bought; ready to wear a.k.a. a Brooks Brother’s Suit.

IF you, the modern gentleman, works in a law firm, finance sector or any-other industry where your suits speaks for what you do and what you are trying to sell… then to have a Bespoke suit is a no brainer; in the meantime there are a slew of great  haberdasheries that offer Made-to-measure options at a fraction of a Saville Row suit.

At the end of the day, like shoes, suits and jackets are high-ticket items, and for excellence you need to pay but, trust us, it gets noticed more than you think. You can cut a suit in Vietnam our of a sueded-nylon to look good, flashy and sporty; but you can’t fake ‘drape.’

Drape is the way a fabric, namely here a jacket, falls on your body- only masterful construction, great fabric and careful tailoring produces that.

Average Price of a Great “off-the-peg” suit: $800-$1,500

The RL Suit

TGG’s Guide to: great (off-the-peg) suit makers:

  1. Brook’s Brothers. (also has made-to-measure program)
  2. Ralph Lauren (Black and Purple Label).
  3. Paul Stuart / Phineas Cole.
  4. E. Zegna.
  5. Tom Ford

The Tom Ford

TGG’s Guide to: Saville Row Alternatives for Bespoke Suits:

  1. Freeman’s Sporting Club
  2. Tom Brown
  3. Michael Reslan
  4. Duncan Quinn
  5. Kitton

Happy suiting…

Bordeaux Vintage Round up: The Buying Guide- PAUILLAC 2009

IF Margaux is elegance and flowers; vinified potpourri, and St. Julien vinous garam-masala (Indian spice mix) then Pauillac is a leather-couch-ed cigar-room. From a lithe Margaux, to a irreverently flirtatious St. Julien, we go to something with brawniness and a whopping punch of tannins, brown spices and all the preciously Englihsh descriptors so often associated with claret: dark cassis, fresh pencil shavings, tobacco, cedar etc.

Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron

In truth, I have always said that Pauillac is the proto-typical Bordeaux: it has the litany of flavours and aromas that are what most people talk about when they talk about Bordeaux.

Paulliac of course also boasts three of the five First Growths: Chateau Latour, Mouton-Rotschild and Lafite; although here the difference in character has more to do with there they are relative to the two contiguous appellations on its borders; St. Julien to the south and St. Estephe to the north.

The Place

Herein is the intriguing thing about these estates, Chateau Latour located at the most extreme south of the appellation (a frog could jump from Latour’s Pauillac vinyards to the adjacent vinyeards of St. Julien Chateau Beychevelle with little to no effort)-( a small estuary, the Ruisseau de Juillac serves as the borderline between the two). In contrast Chateau Lafite is located ath the most northern extreme of the appellation; the venerable estate is a stone’s throw away from Chateau Cos d’Estournel almosty literally across the street. Between the southern most vineyards of the appellation which include those of Chateau Batailley, the Pichon-Longuevilles (Baron and Comtesse) there is a wide spance of mostly Cru Classe Vineyards with, going from South to North (Chateau Latour towards Chateau LAfite) one passes by Pauillac’s other infamous names: Chateay Beychevelle, Lynch-Bages, and after a bit of a break when in the northern part of the appellation Chateau Pibran and more notably Pontet-Canet.

The "second label" of Pichon-Longueville Comtesse

I go through this painful recounting to illustrate a point and that is that we currenly, for the sake of the 1855 classification and our own sanity have divided up the northern Medoc into four major appellations (five if you count Haut-Medoc) but the truth is that even within Paulliac (a mere 8 kilometers or so top to bottom)there does exists ‘sub appellations’ if you will and some subtle differences between estates depending on when they are on the map and the subsoil’s. Here I refer to the differences (slight as they may be) between the wines of and around St. Lambert whifs of mild spice but heaftier, Bages and Pauillac proper, and further north when they become more angular (in a good way) in Pouyalet. But this is getting a bit excruciating. These variations are less notable in St. Julien as most of Estate’s vineyards are plots scattered across the appellation and through blending you end up with a faitly consistent set of wines, regardless of the estate, in different degrees of excellence. Some of that also goes for Margaux (which boasts several little-known ‘pseudo-sub appellations’), Pauillac less so.

Okay- if you’re new to the Bordeaux game forget all the BS above: just know this: Pauillac= powerful, red and brown flavors, proto-typical Bordeaux, drunk best after a decade or two depending on the estate and vintage. Overall 2009 Pauillac shined with far less inconsistencies than Margaux’s minefield

If you like smoking jackets and cigars (and most of you do…) then you’ll like Pauillacs. Pauillacs are smoking jackets, cigars and velvet slippers personified.

The following is a list of wines from the Pauillac 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. Any exception to the above are noted. Notes by Alejandro Ortiz.

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 Grand Puy-Ducasse
    • VG—
      • Muscled red fruit, deep and penetrating, tobacco et al: typical Pauillac.
  • Ch. Haut-Batailley
    • VG++-
      • Improving every year- very very nice.
  • Second Tasting @ UGC Tasting: GR—
    • Bing cherry, earth and very French.
  • Ch. d’Armailhac
    • VG+++
      • Never been a huge fan preffering Clerc-Milon’s playfulness more but this was beautiful, again typical Pauillac nose and taste. Will last!
      • Second Tasting @ UGC Tasting: G/VG+–
        • Velvety with a core of brambly red fruit and earth.
  • Ch. Clerc-Milon
    • G–+
      • Lighter than I ever remember it, lithe and pretty- but not great.
      • Second Tasting @ UGC Tasting: VG++1
        • Very different than first tasting- much brighter. Buy.
  • Ch. Croizet-Bages
    • VG—
      • Cedar, pines with nice red fruit- wow, what a great value!
  • Ch. Haut-Bages Liberal
    • VG+++
      • Best in a while although it is a very consistent estate- incredibly balanced, supple, red velvety fruit with a core of gaminess. Beautiful.
  • Ch. Lynch-Bages
    • G+++/VG+–
      • Muscular and a tart black fruit background but ostensibly a beautiful wine.
  • Ch. Grand-Puy-Lacoste
    • VG—
      • Lots of tobacco and deep red/brown fruit.
  • Le Petit Mouton
    • G+++
      • Not great (obviously)
  • Ch. Pichon-Baron
    • GR+++
      • Lilac, pink fruits, flower and an overall smooth and silky texture- beautiful! Fabulous, best in years!
  • Second Tasting @ UGC: FA+–
  • Third Tasting @ Chateau Pichon-Baron: FA++-
  • Ch. Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
    • FA
      • Exceptional, my god! Could be confused with a Margaux, so beautiful, so much perfume. Amazing, velvet, red and purple fruit, a strong bouquet of Croatian wild lavender (ok, this may sound like bullshit but I was in and out of Croatia during this time and trust me that’s what it smelled like). Amazing, fabulous.
  • Second Tasting @ Chateau Pichon-Longueville Lalande: FA
    • My goodness, what consistent magic. This, guys, is frightingly exceptional with an undying finesse, great structure and a nearly infinite finish. Very impressed!
  • Third Tasting @ UGC: ?
    • This was so great, and I was so excited, I cannot read any of the notes I wrote about it, I can make out one expletive however.
  • Second Wine: Reserve de la Comtessee: FA
    • Tasted several times and always absolutely fabulous. Try the Latour challenge with this too (see below Latour notes).
  • Ch. Forts de Latour
    • FA+–
      • Holy enamel-peeling-tannins Batman! This boy’s huge! Together with almost every second label this year; there is such a conserted effort being paid to their quality and makeup that there surpass some off vintages of the Grand Vins, moreover they are wines onto themselves usually coming from plots of vines entirely dedicated to their production (as opposed to being blended from the Grand Vin’s leftovers). Spectacular, muscled—I challenge someone out there to serve this blind to a so-called ‘wine expert’ fifteen years from now and I will wager a small car, right here and now, if he doesn’t think this is a Chateau Latour!
  • Ch. Latour
    • FA+++
      • A brooding monster, monolithic, tobacco-dark-chocolate and dark tarry tobacco-dripping wine. Immense, beautiful and could very qualify as a “nuclear holocaust wine” (see previous posts here). Unbelievable.
  • Ch. Mouton
    • GR—
      • Better than I’ve tasted in a while, MUCH better
  • Ch. Lafite-Rothschild
    • AM—
      • Ethereal and magical as always, stupendous.

The Obsession (and yes 2001 is drinking great!)

Overall Impression of the Pauillac 2009

  • GR-FA : great to fantastic

Yes- while I didn’t remember before looking over my notes to write this post that Pauillac certainly provided some of the most memorable wines of the vintage. Moreover it did so consistently. From top to bottom the wines were exuding elegance within the broad-shouldered power that is common to all Pauillacs. These are wines that have upwards of 20-30 years worth of girth and power—but revisiting the irresistibly dismembered 1982’s it’s really anyone’s guess whether wines have been refined to the point of limited longevity. Still these all have a while. Notable, again, because it’s an overall trend this vintage was the high quality of the second labels with some, like Forts de Latour and Comtesse de Lalande being fabulous and complex wines on their own. If investment is what your after then the advice is always simple: buy from the top, and with Pauillac buy a lot and fearlessly.

If you are buying to drink, look for some early maturers like Clerc-Milon, Lacoste-Borie (second wine of Chateau Grand Puy-Lacoste), Lynch-Moussas, and Chateau Bernadotte because the big boys have a long long way to go.

2009 Pauillac Top 3:

  1. Chateau Latour
  2. Chateau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
  3. Chateau Lafite-Rothschild

2009 Pauillac Underdogs (buy to surprise)

  1. Chateau Haut-Batailley
  2. Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal/ Chateau d’Armailhac
  3. ANY AND ALL SECOND LABELS

Manual to a Young Gentlemen’s Wardrobe: The Navy Blazer

The Navy Blazer

FEWER things in a man’s wardrobe as indispensable, with exceptions like socks and underwear, as a navy blazer. As hinted at by the New York Times coverage of Pitti Uomo (here), the world’s most important mensware event hosted yearly in Flrocence, Navy blazer’s popularity and future hipness and ubiquitness is here to stay. Not only that- but every major designer has versions of the venerable article of man’s fashion.

The blazer’s origin can be found somewhete in the realm between mythological legent and perpetual fact. It is said that Queen Victoria was once upon a time set to review her Navy. On her tour was the the ship HRM Blazer; the captain embarrassed at the condition of his crews uniform and eager to make an impression is said to have ripped down a navy-blue said and had a local tailor fashion jackets out of them thus creating an everlasting sartorial meme: the navy blazer. (another story contends that the term originally belonged to the ‘blazing red’ jackets the rowing team from one Britian’s gilded schools wore).

Indeed the word ‘blazer’ technically only refers to a navy-colored jacket and for true purists one that is double-breasted and bedazzled with brass buttons. For today’s definition we will cindlude the other ‘modern’ standard of two or three-buttoned jackets: everything else is a sportscoat.

A Gentlemen’s Guide to Sartorial Minutia: The Jacket

  • Matching jacket+trousers= suit
  • Jacket with different color trousers= sports jacket
  • Single or double-breasted navy jacket (with brass buttons)= a blazer
  • Navy jacket with black or brown buttons= a sports jacket

The definitive look

As with any jacket one needs to keep it simple, especially if it’s your first rendition of said article of clothing, so we recocmend that you start out with a two-button notch-lapel blazer (with or without brass buttons). Hint: the standard brass buttons blazer comes with are meant to be replaced with those emblazoned with the family crest, initials or the sumbol of your regimen… of course many of these things simply don’t apply anymore. So, instead you can keep them on or replace them with silver ones or perhaps peruse the selection at your local flea market or ebay.

The Fit

The downside of the navy blazer is that it’s been around for a long time and like anything that is somewhat ubiquitous, and in this case a fashion-commodity, most renditions re there are bad, boxy and poorly made. SO look carefully and try a blazer on, walk around the store, sit down, look at it with the buttons open, with the buttons closed etc. There is nothing effeminate at posing at the mirror, remember others will look at you far more than you will look at yourself, so make sure the jacket fits right. It should sit comfortably on your shoulders without the seam going far beyond your shoulder proper, and no shoulderpads, ever. If you are a young man, or have a slim frame, stick to model with higher armholes, narrower arms and a bit of a shorter cut (unless you’re tall of course). Tall men would benefit from three buttons, shorter, talkier guys with two to even one. Men of medium or “rpund frames” should still stick to a narrower cut and the width of the lapels should match the width of the face. Have a wide face or a large frame? Opt for wider peak lapels. But, whatever you do, whatever your frame pick the right size, you shouldn’t look like you’re wearing a sack (it’s not complimenting).

(photos courtesy of The  Sartorialist )

The Navy Blazer: The Advantages

  • Very versatile: can be worn with a button shirt, tie or no tie, a polo shirt, or if you’re the hip type a white v-neck t-shirt or Henley. You can wear with jeans (the wash needs to be lighter than the jacket), khakhis (warning, you can look like a shclepp in the pants are too baggy or pleated), white pants (for a very modern look) down to adventurous things like pastel yellow, striped blue, red, or seersucker. Moreover, for a more formal setting, a navy blazer with grey trunks looks incredibly smart.

A Versatile combo...

  • Can be dressed up: grey trousers, repp tie; ready for business.

The Office

  • Can be dressed preppy: red pants and a white polo? White pants and a bottle of champagne. Foppish, hell no! (more on this later).

\

(photos courtesy of Esquire and The Sartorialist)
  • Can be dressed down: v-neck t-shirt and jeans.

(photo courtesy of GQ)

  • The ultimate business-trip jacket (see above).
  • It’s hip but, moreover and infinitely most importantly: It’s timeless.

    Cool, safe, unpretentious, preppy- masculine.

The Navy Blazer: The Disadvantages

  • It’s popular and sartorially ubiquitous which means there are many styles out there with special renditions, features and atributes in order to distinguish one from the other. For the first one: Keep it simple! Start basic, then go from there (you know, the blazer with white piping? That’s level 5).

The next level.

  • The Khaki conundrum. It seems natureal: navy blazer with kahki pants. Right? But this is a the problem, it’s so ubiquitous and overused by schkleppy banking types and no-nothing frat-boys that the look, often an oversized sack-jacket and baggy pants, has gotten a bad wrap. It’s a good look and a classic one, but it needs to be done carefully, see below:

The unfortunate archetype: too big, too baggy, too schleppy

The right way to do khaki+navy blazer.

  • Choices. There are simply too many choices so let’s go to our buying guide:

TGG’s Navy Blazer Buying Guide

  • Start Simple and basic for the first Navy Blazer:
    • Notch lapel
    • Two button
    • Standard Navy color
    • Light wool (so it can be used year-round)
    • Lined
    • Slim cut: should be slightly pinched at the waist, narrow arms, higher armhoples. Dapper and proper.
    • Be willing to spend; you only need one right? So do it right. A good Navy Blazer may cost anywhere from $120USD to $900USD. A notable exeption is Uniqlo’s unlined Navy blazer which is, in short, fantastic.

Upgrades:

  • Pocket squares: silk, cotton and linen- don’t be afraid. Go from simple white linen to colorful prints: Make it count.

The diversifier... (courtesy of the Sartorialist)

  • Different materials: the summer one (unlined, linen, cotton) to winter (wool, velvet, tweed) down to the stylish and unique (knit, patched, etc… see above picture).

Some ideas:

Navy Blazer cool (from the Sartorialist)

A stylish Combo (from Kinoware.com)

Top 10 for Navy Blazers

  1. J. Press (sack suits- get the a size smaller and have them tailored)
  2. J. Crew
  3. Brook’s Brothers (Black Fleece is slimmer)
  4. Uniqlo (fantastic- lightweight and inexpensive)
  5. Zara
  6. Etro
  7. Cucinelli
  8. Ralph Lauren
  9. Zegna
  10. Kitton

Bordeaux Vintage Round up: The Buying Guide- ST. JULIEN 2009

The St. Julien spectrum

SEVERAL weeks ago i wrote a post (here) about the 2009 vintage of Bordeaux, which is being hailed as the vintage of the century (that, by the way, includes 1982– which in retrospect, was not that great since the wines are on their last legs) i agree with the critical praise, in spirit. The 2009’s were fabulous- but buyer beware! 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; St. Julien.

If Margaux is feminine and Paulliac is masculine with cigar and pencil shaving nuances then St. Julien is more of a rumbuctious young aristocrat somewhere between Eaton and a Manhattan bachelor pad who is aptly named Phineas or Cole and looks like Mika or the fashionista scion of the Ferrari family. Equal parts spicy, flirtatious and deep, St. Julien’s wines are the favorties of many novices to Bordeaux who, although love the tender flowriness (that putrid-rose perfume) that is Margaux’s calling card, want something with a little more punch. In truth, St. Julien’s are a different animal than Margaux and in the structure it can sometimes achieve a prowess not unlike its muscular northern cousin, Pauillac. But it’s in its differences to Pauillac and further north to St. Estephe which really makes St. Julien standout.

On the nose St. Juliens often smell of spice box with hefty doses of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg sometimes harkening me back to the spice-markets of Old Delhi. Alas the comparisons to India stop here (although with a Raan, a sort of marinated and tandoori-roasted leg of lamb which is so tender it can be cut up with a spoon, a garam-masala scented Ducru-Beaucaillou is just the perfect match). Unlike Margaux St. Julien (as is Pauillac and St. Estephe) is known for being very consistent year after year in terms of quality and overall profile, with nuances differing between one estate to another for various reasons we won’t get to here.

As I wrote in my notes: St. Julien makes me happy.

The following is a list of wines from the St. Julien 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. Any exception to the above are noted. Notes by Alejandro Ortiz.

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 Gloria
    • G++-
      • Black muddled fruit- the most serious Gloria I’ve ever had, wow.
    • Ch. Talbot
      • O / G
        • A bit weak in the middle and melancholic- something happened here (or didn’t).
        • SECOND LABLE: Constable de Talbot: G—
      • Second Tasting @ UGG Tasting: G+– / VG—
        • Totally different wine that what I remembered tasting before; this had bright brambly red fruit jam spread on a fermented tobacco leaf (this, at least to me, sounds delicious) with hints of mint and a leafy greenness which screams “picked too early” however.
    • Ch. Lagrange
      • VG++-
        • Supple folds of liquid mahogany with nuances of cherry and a velveteen mouth feel. If a Sweedish designer conceived a sex-chair for Betty Page using Versailles as an inspiration it would be similar to this.
        • SECOND LABEL: Les Fiefs de Lagrane: VG—
    • Second Tasting @ UGG Tasting: G++- / VG —
      • Elegant but not showing as well- the sample’s a bit shy.
    • Ch. Beychevelle
      • G++- / VG—
        • Meaty and chewy—where are my braised short-ribs? Can a wine be described as guttural?
    • Second Tasting @ UGG Tasting: VG—
      • See above.
    • Ch. Branaire-Ducru
      • G+++
        • Brown baking spices sprinkled on red fruit… put in a bowl, let it macerate in the spring sun for several hours. Smell. Get it? Very nice.
    • Second Tasting @ UGG Tasting: VG—
      • See above. This is one of the great values of St. Julien.
    • Ch. Gruaud-Larose
      • G+++
        • Typical: slightly feral and funky. Always… some people love this don’t get me wrong but I have never gotten this Chateau’s wines. There’s a core of red fruit with a sprinkling of black pepper but I need to put my glass down…
    • Ch. St. Pierre
      • VG–+
        • Interestingly flowery with spicy nuances- great value.
    • Second Tasting @ UGG Tasting: VG+–
    • Ch. Leoville-Poyferre
      • GR+–
        • Powerful red/black fruit compote, but nuanced.
    • Second Tasting @ UGG Tasting: GR++-
      • See above.
    • Ch. Leoville-Barton
      • VG+++
        • Good God! (my notes). The old man (Monsieur Barton) must be getting old… Like when grandpa turns the volume on the TV waaaay up so he can hear, this wine slams you in the face just in case Mr. Barton may not be able to taste it. And Taste it you do. Need a break…
    • Second Tasting @ Chateau Leoville-Barton: VG+++
      • Huge; this time I was ready for it otherwise you can pass out. The tannins are massive, dry, full of stuff Winston Churchill loves: Cohiba cigars, scotch, French whore and god knows what else. There is a sprinkling of Thai cinnamon and sun-dried cherries somewhere in there but it’s hard to find. This is definitely a “nuclear holocaust” type of wine. Buy it up! You’ll be drinking it at Rapture…
    • Ch. Langoa-Barton  (tasted at Chateau Leoville-Barton)
      • VG+–
        • Fabulous- in the same vein as Barton- huge, blown, and chock-full of brown mulling spices. Will last forever.
    • Ch. Ducru-Beaucaillou (tasted at the Chateau)
      • FA+++
        • The chateau was decorated like a sort of carnival hall-of-mirrors motif and yet no mirrors. At the entrance two statuesque blondes in small black dresses welcomes guests: I liked the wine already. Once inside the tasting started with a new wine the chateau is producing which was surprisingly in its… how can I describe it: “Californianess…” Which is not a bad thing, but if I want a California wine with a French accent there’s a slew of wines to choose from (i.e. made by French wine makers or owned by French companies). The second label La Croix de Ducru-Beaucaillou was marvelous and in line with a truism in this vintage: the second labels of the top estates are amazing and at time better than the top wine on less fortunate vintages. When I think French garam-masala (Quare Epices) I think Ducru—this is a telltale feature of the wine and one that is hard to forget. Ducru and in this case the “Croix” is difficult to let go: juicy, flirtatious, bright red fruit with a solid dose of the above-mentioned spice mix… its beautiful. Of course, the prize has to go to the big brother which tempts you to jump into the glass and swim in it. The depth of the wine is near-infinite with waves of tobacco, spices, earth, and red fruit all enveloping in it in a pretty solid jacket of soft but present tannins; this is Bordeaux after all and this wine is not pretending to be anything it’s not. And what it is, is fabulous!

        The Favorite underdog...

    Overall Impression of the St. Julien 2009

    • VG-GR

    Overall the St. Julien appellation produced very solid wines across the board. Here again though the gulf between the premier estates, and everyone else was quite noticeable although not as dramatic as in Margaux, for example. St. Juliens are great because upon release they drink well for about a year or two until shutting down for about a decade. All Bordeaux do this: try them at release and then try them two years later: two different animals. These St. Julien’s will keep and keep and keep they’ve got a lot of guts and will deliver pleasure for decades (and decades) to come.

    2009 St. Julien Top 3:

    1. Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou
    2. La Croix de Ducru-Beaucaillou
    3. Chateau Leoville-Poyferre

    2009 St. Julien Underdogs (buy to surprise)

    1. Chateau Branaire-Ducru
    2. Chateau Dufort-Vivens (not reviewed)
    3. Chateau Gloria

    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

    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: