The monthly email that I receive from the Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan is like a call from my Siren, without the fatal consequences. It may seem that I spend my entire life there, but that is not the case, it is because I usually only write about two wines at a time, and there are days that I have had the good fortune to taste several excellent wines, and then I must figure out how to weave the stories around other stories, as I am not an employee or a paid reviewer, but I do enjoy my visits. The joining of the wine club was very simple, once a month they bill you for two wines, which you go and pick up, they are usually interesting wines; one Old World and one New World. As a club member you also get to enjoy case pricing, even if you only run in to pick up a quick bottle of wine.
The Old-World selection for the month is Chateau Calhou Belair Bordeaux 2018. In the 13th Century Eleonore de Provence, wife of Henry III Plantagenet, King of England and Duke of Aquitaine, founded the bastide of Monsegur. The area was known for their gastronomy, and this spurred additional interest in the development of viticulture. The Great Depression of 1929 was felt in France, as it was a global crisis and it created the need for the small wineries to restructure and have a new outlook to survive. In 1935, in Monsegur, a handful of winemakers met and decided to work together, the following year fifteen winemakers created the Monsegur Cooperative and had their first harvest. Through the years they kept improving especially in technical improvements and investment. Originally, they produced wine in bulk to sell to Bordeaux merchants and in 2009 decided to start bottling their own product. Which required more capital investments for this goal. Today they have one-hundred-seventy winemaker members, which accounts for eighty-thousand hectares of vines, encompassing Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and they produce under two appellations: Bordeaux and Entre-Deux-Mers. This wine is a blend of fifty-five percent Merlot, thirty-five percent Cabernet Sauvignon and ten percent Cabernet Franc. The wine is described as offering ripe dark fruits both in the nose and on the palette with a jammy touch, layers of cherries and leather, grainy tannins and finishing with a little heat.
The New-World selection is Donati Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc Paicines AVA 2016. The Donati family started arriving in the Paicines region of the Central Coast in 1998, when they purchased the land that would become the family estate and vineyard. Since then, they have planted the vineyards and built a state-of-the-art winery. Paicines is the southernmost AVA in the San Benito County and in the 1980’s and 1990’s the area was associated with the production of bulk wines, but a few wineries are attempting to correct that image. To this day, much of the fruit is grown and then sent to wineries in other parts of California. It is still home to the five-hundred-acre Vista Verde Vineyard that was previously owned by Almaden Vineyards, before the company was sold and split up in the 1980’s. The sandy soils of gravel and limestone have forced the vines to develop deep root systems, because of the good drainage and has strengthened the vines. This wine is ninety-eight percent Cabernet Franc and two percent Cabernet Sauvignon. The fermentation began in Stainless Steel and then the juice was aged for twenty-eight months in oak, of which thirty-four percent was new French Oak and twenty-one percent was new American Oak. This was an impressive wine offering a nose of blueberry, vanilla and pepper, a big chewy wine of rich fruit and balanced tannins and a nice mid-length finish of more fruit. This wine I actually tried in the shop and all I could think of, is that I am glad that my Bride was not there, because I have no idea where I would put the additional cases of her favorite grape. I may have to act fast, as there were only six-hundred-sixty-four cases produce.