With my honorary title of “Street Somm” I am one of the first to admit that there is still a lot to learn, even after drinking wine for fifty years. I was at the Fine Wine Source my favorite home away from home, especially during the lockdown. There are times that I look at a label from a distance and I can identify it, I mean some are that distinct. Some labels have changed a bit over the years and some have totally changed. I saw a label and I thought I knew the wine until I looked at the actual wording. I thought the wine was from Margaux, but it was from the Bordeaux Superior. A new wine for me from Chateau D’Issan, a Troisiemes Grand Cru or Third Growth, if your French is a little rusty.
A little background is necessary to discuss this wine, and while I may not like “wine verbiage” I do like history and little tidbits about wines. Chateau D’Issan Margaux 2005, a Troisiemes Grand Cru Classe en 1855 or in plain English a Third Growth from the great classification of the Medoc. Chateau D’Issan is a legendary estate in Margaux, just south of Chateau Margaux and next door to Chateau Palmer, I mean some great real estate especially if you are into terroir. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and the fruit from is from the older vines on the estate, the wine was aged for eighteen months in French Oak, of which fifty-five percent was new. This is a classic Margaux wine with the color and the nose, and the ethereal terms that I tend to use for the wines of this Commune; silk, opulent and elegant. In the past fifty years, I have probably been more fortunate to have enjoyed more wines from Margaux compared to any other of the Communes of the Medoc, which is not bad for a kid from Southwest Detroit. Chateau D’Issan has a second label, which is rather common for the great wines of the Medoc. Blason D’Issan Margaux is a wine that we tasted at the Fine Wine Source and we were so impressed that we bought a six pack of the wine. Blason is a French word for “coat of arms” and I guess that is a nice way for them to list the second label from Chateau D’Issan. The wine was is also a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The wine is aged from fourteen to sixteen months in French Oak, of which a third is new. The major difference between the first label and the second label, is a little shorter aging period and the fruit is harvested from younger vines.
Now getting to their third label Moulin D’Issan Bordeaux Superior 2018, which when I first read the label, I presumed that it was from fruit that they had out sourced, since there are plenty of vines in the entire Bordeaux region. This is not the case, I have written and hinted at the strange and stringent appellation laws that France defends to the end, since they basically created wine laws. To the right of the “historic” driveway to the Chateau are vineyards and plots that have been designated as Bordeaux Superior, they are mostly clay and limestone beds located closest to the Gironde estuary, but are not deemed Margaux worthy. This soil is more suitable for growing Merlot. The wine is named Moulin in honor of the ancient ruins of a 17th Century windmill that was on the property and is still in the middle of the vineyard. This wine is about ninety percent Merlot and the balance is Cabernet Sauvignon and they began issuing this wine in 1988. Even though most Bordeaux Superior wines are Cabernet Sauvignon blends and the Right Bank is more Merlot driven, this is another silky wine and I would say elegant and opulent, especially for the price. I don’t know too many people, unless they are effete elitist wine snobs that would turn their nose down at an extremely well made and delicious and affordable Bordeaux Superior wine.