Saturday, November 26, 2016

Chateau de La Dauphine delivers delicious value in right bank Bordeaux

It is the game many a Bordeaux-lover knows well.  If you love a certain appellation but can't afford it, look to the neighbors.

The highly esteemed wines of Pomerol are out of the reach of many a pocketbook, but there are other right bank Bordeaux appellations close by that deliver similar Merlot-based plushness at a fraction of the cost.

I had the opportunity to try some of the wines of Chateau de La Dauphine at a recent media lunch at Gramercy Tavern and was duly impressed by these rich red wines.

Chateau de La Dauphine is a historic property, so named because the Princess Maria-Josepha of Saxony (mother of Louis XVI) stayed several days at the chateau soon after it was built.  The chateau is situated in the Libourne region which comprises Saint-Emilion, Pomerol and Fronsac.

With such esteemed neighbors, it's no surprise that the wines of Fronsac can be excellent, but often at a fraction of the cost of Pomerol or St. Emilion.

According to Marion Merker from the chateau, "The goal of Chateau de La Dauphine is to show the quality  of clay and limestone soil in a complex wine with character and elegance."  These wines are affordable, selling in the $18-$35 range, which Marion feels is correct, because, according to her, "Wine is to share, to enjoy, to taste."  In other words - we more often want wine that we can pull out today rather than cellar for decades.

Chateau de La Dauphine has made strides in its viticulture and today its vineyards are certified organic.  In addition, great care is show in the winemaking process.  Starting with the 2012 vintage, Michel Roland has been brought in as oenologist.

The vintages we sampled at lunch were all rich, smooth, and fully of red fruit, including:

Chateau de La Dauphine 2009 - With flavors of caramel and cherry this was rich, round, and plush - a great wine.

 Chateau de La Dauphine 2010 - A wine of good structure with greater acidity, drying tannins. This wine will be delicious in 3-5 years although can be drunk now.

Chateau de La Dauphine 2012 - A great vintage with more complexity. It will evolve well, but can be drunk now.  There are notes of licorice, caramel, vanilla, and ripe cherries.

The wines of Chateau de La Dauphine are available in the U.S. now.  For visitors in the Bordeaux region especially traveling to St. Emilion, Chateau de La Dauphine makes a wonderful visit, and it has garnered the Best of Wine Tourism award in 2016 from Great Wine Capitals.

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