Château Vieux Robin, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur

Bordeaux, France 2005

When we talk about the great vintages in Bordeaux from the last decade, 2005 is right at the top of the list. In a Food & Wine article published in 2006, critic Robert Parker declared: “If wine drinkers are willing to forgo the most prestigious châteaux, they will find an ocean of high-quality 2005 wines at reasonable prices from lesser appellations and little-known sub-regions.” He was right then, and today, it’s still the case. In 2015, Jancis Robinson reported that 2005 is “Bordeaux’s best vintage of the century so far,” adding that out of 70 wines she had tasted, each a decade on, it was “slightly frustrating,” that only one wine, one of “the cheapest,” was approachable. SommSelect readers know that I frequently travel to Bordeaux to seek out the kind of gems Parker and Robinson are talking about.

My latest discovery is today’s 2005 Château Vieux Robin Cru Bourgeois Supérieur—completely off the beaten path, rarely seen by Americans, and a wine I fell in love with. Château Vieux Robin is a small producer in the northern Médoc and this under-$30 bottling from 2005 encapsulates those classic Left Bank aromas and flavors of tobacco, leather, and cedar box. After a long slumber at home in Bordeaux, this Cabernet-based blend is approaching its finest years, and if you’re reading this, you're among the privileged few in the U.S. to have a chance at owning these bottles!

One of the many reasons that I find myself spending more and more time in Bordeaux is the thrill of discovering perfectly-aged, off-the-beaten-path gems that never had the US market in mind. I work closely with a handful of négociants (merchants) who have decades-old relationships with producers who release small quantities of older wines, and when we find one we love, we bring them back to deliver unbeatable value. The fact that we can offer old Bordeaux, with nearly 15 years of bottle age, in mint condition, with the aging done at a cellar in Bordeaux, blows my mind.  

With 59 acres north of Saint-Estèphe in the Médoc, Château Vieux Robin’s 40-year-old vines are treated to a serene kind of coastal influence from the Gironde estuary. The estate is helmed today by fifth-generation Maryse and Didier Robin, who assumed control in 1988. Their son, Olivier, is training to become a sixth-generation vintner, working the same lands that were cultivated by his ancestors going all the way back to the 1840s.

The extraordinary 2005 growing season resulted in a picture-perfect harvest at Vieux Robin. Dry, warm weather persisted from the summer into September when a cool spell allowed grapes to continue ripening while acid levels remained taut and firm. Of the last 20 vintages in Bordeaux, I continue to marvel over the 2005s and the sheer freshness they exude in the glass—bright and vivid acid backbones balanced by average alcohol levels but underscored by pronounced and powerful tannins. They’re finally starting to come around, so if you missed out on filling your cellar with ’05s, here’s one shot at redemption.

A blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon 40%, Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot, the 2005 Château Vieux Robin Cru Bourgeois Supérieur shows a dark, garnet core leading to orange reflections on the rim showing signs of its 15 years of age. In the glass, savory and mature aromas show classic left bank character of red and black currant, tobacco, wet clay, gravel and faint accents of baking spices. Beautiful out the gate, but this really shines 30-40 mins after opening, revealing a medium-plus body and fine-grained soft tannins that are incredibly integrated. This is a classic old school Bordeaux that is meant to be enjoyed around a meal. I think of preparing a classic steak dinner, but I’d be quite happy with duck or roast pork, or best yet, roasted lamb and potatoes. Enjoy!
Print Tasting Notes Buy Now
Bordeaux / Left Bank
Cabernet Sauvignon 55%, Merlot 40%, Cabernet Franc 3%, Petit Verdot 2%
Mostly Used French
Gravelly Clay
Service Temperature
Bordeaux Stem
Drinking Window
30 Minutes

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