On paper, today’s sensational Bordeaux fits snugly in the realm of impossible value: Organic farming, a legendary terroir mirroring that of Saint-Émilion, and a long, hands-off upbringing in tight-grained, expensive French oak. Off paper, it’s even more impressive. In our blind tasting, I heard varying answers from a polished Margaux to a silky Pomerol, but everyone agreed on the simple fact that it was consciously crafted, best-in-class Bordeaux from one of the top vintages in modern history.
So, for those thinking they have enough Bordeaux in their cellar, I highly recommend re-evaluating: Coming in at $24, today’s extraordinary bottling delivers the heart and soul of Bordeaux in 2015. I’ve searched high and low for an impeccable Right Bank value from this record-setting vintage and Château Gardegan’s Grand Vin is it. By now, everyone is familiar with the manic acclaim of 2015, but some pockets of Bordeaux benefitted most from it: Wine Spectator astutely points out that this “extremely warm and dry growing season favored the Right Bank's clay and limestone soils.” They went on to wax rhapsodic about the incredible opulence of Pomerol, the absolute perfection of Saint-Émilion, and ended by noting that there are immense values to be found in Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. The latter is the origin of today’s bottle, a five-year-old Bordeaux that is erupting with intensity, polish, and breathtaking elegance. Take what you can muster because this $24 rarity can’t be found elsewhere!
While the history-rich appellation of historic Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux deserves to be a World Heritage site, there is just as much intrigue when it comes to wine. The Romans were tending vines here, and when it comes to quality and sheer value in today’s world, Côte de Castillon is one of the most reliable ‘outer-borough’ designations in all of Bordeaux. It also hugs the eastern border of Saint-Émilion and shares a close geological connection with its limestone and iron-rich clay soils.
Castillon is home to some of the highest elevations in the sprawling region of Bordeaux, something that Château Gardegan believes is one of the key ingredients to their wines. With just eight hectares of organically farmed vines (officially certified in 2016), their Merlot clings to a steep hillside band of limestone, iron, and clay with an abundance of marine fossils. This terroir proved perfect for the sun-drenched and rain-scarce 2015 vintage. In the winery, all grapes are de-stemmed and cold-soaked for roughly one week before undergoing an ambient-yeast fermentation and month-long maceration. The juice is then transferred via gravity—no pumps!—into French barrels, of which 20% are new and 80% are once-used.
When it comes to our direct import business, we always taste the wine overseas and once again when it arrives at our warehouse months later. However, I enjoyed Gardegan’s 2015 Grand Vin so much that I opened two bottles back at the office instead of the usual one. The second the cork is pulled, Merlot’s lushness is instantly revealed: spicy red plum, ripe red cherries, currants, black raspberry liqueur. Give it a few swirls and 15 minutes in the glass and it’ll start revealing more complexities like clove, vanilla, cedar, damp clay, and crushed stone, all of which are complemented by a sweet bed of myriad baking spices. The medium-bodied palate is supple and silky, offering up ultra-generous layers of red-black forest fruits and hints of savory earth that glide without effort (thanks smooth, fine-grained tannins). Man, this wine is gorgeous, and it proves why Right Bank Bordeaux was exalted in 2015. All you need to do is serve in large Bordeaux stems around 60 degrees and enjoy over the next five years. You’re going to love this.
Bordeaux / Right Bank
Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux
20% New French
Limestone w/ Iron-Rich Clay
Large Bordeaux Stem