Splits, I am sure is a colloquial expression for a half-bottle of wine, and not a bowling term or a gymnastic pose that I am going to discuss. The half-bottles were much more prevalent years ago and I very seldom see them today on a wine carte and I really use to enjoy having a split or maybe two different splits during a nice dinner. I think that perhaps in Michigan, it has fallen out of favor, because now one doesn’t have to drink the entire bottle of wine at the restaurant, one can now take the balance home after it has been resealed, which I am sure has cut down on people getting drunk and getting behind the wheel of an automobile. There was a time when we were able to buy quite a few different splits and then, as I said they became passe, and most shops don’t carry them except for some dessert wines. The smart money has always been that splits do not last as long, and since I have rediscovered my cache of splits that were hidden in a corner, I have grabbed a couple of them to see how they are, since I have more of each of them resting.
The first split that we had one night with a casual dinner was an E. Guigal Cote du Rhone 1996. E. Guigal is one of the more popular and important producers in the Rhone Valley. Etienne Guigal founded the company in 1946 in town of Ampuis near the fabled slopes of Cote Rotie. The main focus has been on wines featuring Grenache, Mourvedre, Viognier, Roussanne and Syrah. The company has holdings in Saint-Joseph, Hermitage, Gigondas, Condrieu, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, as well as a couple of Cote du Rhone wines. The company also has four notable wines from Cote Rotie, the latest acquisition being Chateau d’Ampuis in 1995. While the bottle of wine did not list the varietals, I don’t think that I would be going out much on a limb to say that it is the classic GSM blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre; the classic trio of the Southern Rhone wines. I am happy to say that the color, nose and taste would have reminded one of perhaps a five-year-old and not a twenty-four-year-old, so the others are still safe and totally drinkable.
The second split was Chateau Jacques Blanc “Cuvee du Maître” Saint Emilion Grand Cru 1999. The Blanc family has been part of the Saint Emilion annals since the completion of the Battle of Castillon in 1453. The estate changed hands in the end of the 18th Century and totally rebuilt and recognized as one of the leading producers in Saint Emilion. Since 1930 the Castle and estate changed hands several times and the property is now at twenty-one hectares. There are new owners that took over in 2012 and they have already increased the property by another six hectares. The Saint Emilion Grand Cru classification began in 1955 and the latest version of it was done in 2012 and there are plenty of rules and there have been plenty of opinions about the rules and politics of the region from all that I have gathered. The wine is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc and probably close to a three to one ratio, and aged for about year in oak. This was another excellent version of a Saint Emilion wine and a region that has been close to my heart since I was a teenager and this wine drank exceedingly well, with no signs of age at all, which is also good, because there are more still in the cellar. Two very interesting tests and with good results.