Château Rocher-Calon Montagne-Saint-Émilion 2006

I’m in the teeming metropolis of Morgan Hill, California at the moment on another business trip. This is pretty countryside just a ways south of San José; the Besson vineyard that gave us the inestimable Clos de Gilroy grenache is nearby. Thinking I’d drink locally, I headed to the local Trader Joe’s – the Aldi-owned cheap-gourmet grocery store – and intended to buy a bottle of something local. However, what they had was mostly stuff from Napa and Sonoma, and the French wines were keenly priced by comparison – I didn’t want to put $25 worth of alcohol on an expense report – so I wound up with the second most expensive Bordeaux that they had. (Interestingly, the most expensive French still wine was a $20 Ch.-de-Pape.)How is it? Very good indeed. It looks young, all majestic purple and vibrancy. The nose, such as I can make it out given the, ahem, inadequate stemware at the Courtyard Inn, is very soft, with hints of red berries and spice. The entry of the wine onto the palate is all lightfooted elegance, but before you have a chance to notice it firm-footed tannins come sneaking in, which broadens the wine out into a fairly impressive heft. Rich, ripe primary fruit is offset by tannins and smoky, spicy notes presumably from barrels; this is (let’s be straight here) very impressive given its price, and a good introduction to what decent French claret tastes like.The finish lingers, tannins gradually overcoming the supple fruit, until all that’s left is a memory of a distant wildfire. All in all, probably the best wine I’ve drunk at this price point in some time, and probably what the Wayne Gretzsky meritage from the other night wants to be when it grows up.Château Rocher-Calon
Price: $13
Closure: Cork

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