Château de Bellevue Lussac St-Emilion 2005

Ah, coincidence. It’s been an interesting month: my partner was up in the Bay Area a couple of weeks back and availed himself of one of their May specials: a half-case of Bordeaux wine at a reduced price. This week, the New York Times published an excellent article quoting Paul Grieco of Hearth – a restaurant in New York City where I’ll hopefully be drinking myself into a stupor this coming Sunday – as being “sad” that no one’s come into the restaurant and asked for a glass of Bordeaux. I get that: I own barely any Bordeaux – heck – with this recent purchase I have nearly eight bottles, I think – and generally never think to buy any. Why? Well, the price thing, yeah, but also because I’ve never had one that, you know, really transported me. The ones I’ve had have inspired no personal connection, no rhapsodic waxing, nothing. Worse yet, I’ve been watching all ten hours of Mondovino (the TV series, not the movie) this week and have cringed repeatedly at the huge châteaux and their tacky yet expensive eyeglass-wearing marketing directors, etc. etc. etc.So. Here’s a bottle of not-quite-so-young Bordeaux. Kermit Lynch imported it; it’s thirty bucks or so, apparently. What’s it like?First off, the nose isn’t at all what I was expecting. It’s lush: full, rich, darkly scented, redolent of cassis and smoked tea. There’s just a bit of black cured olives, wet clay, and rich, savory meat that reminds me of Korean barbecued ribs. It’s wonderfully complex, to be short.My first thought upon tasting it, however, was “this isn’t fully ripe.” There are definite green, herbaceous notes here that seem surprising and slightly unpleasant, especially for someone used to California, Washington, South Africa: instead of delivering a wine as rich as the smell, you instead are presented with a distinctly mean, narrow flavor profile that’s disappointing at first. The trick, however, is to stick with it: suddenly, you find yourself flashing back to taste descriptors learned in college that you never use for your home state: lead pencil, cigar box, minerality, all of those things. Most of all, though, I taste a kind of slate-y stoniness; the wine is narrow in the mouth but upon closer reflection decidedly taut, beautiful in the same way that mannish women are: you sense a tension of beauty rooted in restraint. Yes, this could have wound up in Napa territory, all plushness, sweet tannins, cloying chocolate-plum perfume: instead, it’s been artfully arrested in a way that those qualities inherent to Merlot are arrested, paradoxically making them more compelling.Tannins are noticeably present, of course, yet perfectly correct; they’re currently working beautifully with a meat pie from the South African bakery down the road. Based on the rich fruit and good acidity, I’d reckon that I opened this bottle too soon: if I were you, I’d hold this back for another decade.To sum up: yes, my generation do not drink Bordeaux… yet. The trick is I think to work through the initial disappointment of encountering a wine almost, but not quite, familiar as the stuff of Pahlmeyer and Thelema; you need to sit with this one for some time and listen carefully. The story it tells is all the more beautiful for speaking so softly. Château de Bellevue
Price: $28
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail