When I went to pick up the March Wine Club selections from the Fine Wine Source, I actually had my better half with me, as she was running errands and I was tagging along. After a year of confinement, most reasons are good for a car ride. Unfortunately for both the Fine Wine Source and for us, we were still in the midst of errands, so we couldn’t stay and do any serious tasting, but we did try a couple, but I promised to come back and that I would try to bring a friend, as my Bride is still always busy and still needs a Social Secretary. We were going to pick up the Club selections and then a few more wines that we were low on and go. Plans never seem to work properly, but that is alright as well.
We started off with Oremus Mandolas Furmint 2017. In 1993, just three years after the world saw that Communism and Socialism did not work in the former Soviet Hungarian Republic, the Alvarez family that had bought Vega-Sicilia founded Tokaji-Oremus, but respecting the time-honored traditions of the district. The region known as Tokaj is actually twenty-seven municipalities and land, but Tokaj is the major city of the area. The history of Oremus goes back to 1620 and they are credited with making the first Aszu wine as well. When I was first learning about wine, I had always wanted to try all the versions of Tokaji wines, but back then it was the Cold War and the Communists ran a monopoly on the wines of all of the countries that they ruled by the jackboot and intimidation. Rumor has it that Pepsi Cola was an un-official conduit for wines and spirits behind the Iron Curtain for years, keeping the United States in Stolichnaya and Monimpex Tokaji. While there are a couple of different varietals that are grown in this region, the main one is Furmint. Furmint produces a highly acidic juice that when nurtured can develop into one of the longest-lived wines known. This wine is named for the vineyard that the grapes come from and it is only planted with Furmint. This is a golden grape that buds late and because of a peculiar trait has one of the potentially longest growing cycles and is very labor intensive. The grapes are delicately pressed and the fermentation process can take eight to ten days and then the wine is aged in small oak barrels, which is the traditional way. Even though this is a dry white wine, and can be enjoyed immediately, it can be aged for about ten years. The wine delivered a curious blend of floral and smoke and was full flavored with a good finish.
The second wine that we tasted was Chateau Haut-Beausejour Saint-Estephe 2016. Chateau Haut-Beausejour was purchased by Jean Claude Rouzaud, the owner of the Roederer Champagne house. The Rouzaud family also owns Chateau Pichon Comtesse de Lalande in Pauillac as well as two other estates in Saint-Estephe; Chateau Bernadotte and Chateau de Pez. Chateau Haut-Beausejour has a short history for being in the Medoc, when the Rouzaud family purchased two Saint- Estephe properties from the Brossard family; Chateau Picard and Chateau Beausejour. They created one large estate from the two estates and sold seventeen hectares of what they considered less desirable vineyards. It is also one of the few estates without a chateau, just some simple buildings used as their cellar. In checking my notes, I found that I actually had a Chateau Haute-Beausejour Saint-Estephe 1993, after their disastrous 1992 vintage, in which they actually declassified their first vintage. They use the same technical wine making team and philosophy as their sister property Chateau de Pez. The ten-hectare vineyard is planted with fifty-six percent Merlot, thirty-nine percent Cabernet Sauvignon and five percent Petit Verdot. The grounds are a mix of gravel, clay and limestone, and some of the vines are sixty years of age. The wine of Chateau Haut-Beausejour is started in traditional, large oak vats, including the Malolactic fermentation. The wine is then transferred and aged in French Oak barrels, of which thirty-five percent is new, for about twelve months. On average they produce about five-thousand cases each year. With Merlot being the lead variety, this medium-bodied wine is what when I was learning was referred to as feminine compared to the bolder Cabernet Sauvignon led Medoc wines. Dark red fruits and spices led the experience for the nose, and there was a noted taste of sweet cherries with softer tannins and a decent medium finish of terroir. This was an unexpected but delightful purchase for the cellar.