A Real Bordeaux at a Realistic Price

Our tasting panel evaluated 5 red wines—blind as per usual. It turned out that Cabernet Sauvignon was the answer to the mystery question “So what are we tasting?”  There were two very attractive wines—one turned about to be a relatively inexpensive California Cabernet called Wyatt. The other, upon revelation, was an old-fashioned Bordeaux called Fourcas Hosten from village of Listrac, situated about half way between the 2 famous communes of Margaux and St. Julien. There are nearly 90 properties in Listrac of which the top ten have been ranked Cru Bourgeois by the French Government. The best Chateau of course were rated Grand Cru Classe back in 1855. A mere 61 made it into Grand Cru from well over 1000 Chateaux considered. The next 200 best Châteaux were ranked Cru Bourgeois—pretty good indeed. The difference is essentially one of finesse and complexity not power and flavor. The best Cru Bourgeois are among the best values in French wines: You get a lot of wine for a modest number of dollars. Fourcas Hosten is a venerable property with a clear history back to 1810. It is a large estate of over 100 acres making about 20,000 cases per vintage. The blend of grapes is divided roughly between Cabernet and Merlot. In Bordeaux these 2 grapes compliment each other in a particularly harmonious manner. The wine we tasted was from the great 2005 vintage arguably the finest since 1982. The striking features of the wine were the rich, smoky, ripe dark fruits aroma, the admirable balance of fruit and tannin on the palate and a classically long dry Bordeaux finish. Jancis Robinson, the gifted British wines writer described the wine as “very competently oaked. Nothing over done. A complete Bordeaux.” It is wonderful to taste a serious, adult red wine to which one happily returns sip after sip. The 2005 is certainly drinkable now. For those of you who want a moderately priced wine capable of aging 5+ years you have found it. This is a lamb and beef wine par excellence.

Bob Millman

2005 Chateau Fourcas Hostein  29.95

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