(Wine Thieves - Lafayette, $13.99)
Founded in 1979 on nearly 50 acres where vines were originally planted 300 years ago, Château Saint-Paul is located just north of the acclaimed commune of St-Estèphe on the famed left bank of the Gironde River in Bordeaux. The Haut-Médoc is substantial in size, especially when compared to the adjacent growing areas. It surrounds some of the "old world's" most revered appellations planted in large percentage to the unquestioned monarch of red Bordeaux varietals - Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition to St-Estèphe, the exalted communal appellations of Pauillac, St-Julien and Margaux also claim the Haut-Médoc as a next-door neighbor.
Bernard Boucher is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the estate. Château Saint-Paul prides itself on the purely "hands-on" approach to viticulture; all vineyard work is performed manually.
Winemaking responsibilities fall upon the exceptionally capable shoulders of Olivier Seze. Mr. Seze also owns another very noteworthy property near Château Saint-Paul in Saint Seurin-de-Cadourne, Château Charmail.
As for the wine itself (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc), it's a bargain at $13.99. Here's why:
* Color: Black and dark ruby. Inky intensity.
* Nose: Blackberry and blueberry aromas. Phenomenal, classic bouquet of cedar, cigar box, earth, leather, graphite, tea, cinnamon, cocoa and cumin.
* Palate: Seductive and invigorating mouth feel. Medium body with stylish, polished flavors of cassis, pomegranate, blackberry and cherry. Ultra-fine tannin structure. Altogether satisfying.
* Finish: Lean, harmonious and nimble. Dusty black fruit and milk chocolate.
For a wine inheriting a "Cru Bourgeois" ranking (a stratum of left bank estates initially created in 1932; properties not documented when the 61 "Classed Growths" were determined via the Bordeaux classification of 1855), Château Saint-Paul is an engaging overachiever. It's classy, aristocratic and a dynamite example of small production (roughly 9,000 cases), affordable Haut-Médoc. Give it a try!
Château Saint-Paul begs to be savored with "big food." Pâté, duck confit and roasted goose would pair spectacularly. A zippy, dense gazpacho would provide an appetizing "light" alternative as well. Either way, bon apetit!
Trust your palate to be the final judge...
Have comments or questions about wine? Gregory Peebles, wine industry professional and East Bay resident, can be contacted at email@example.com.
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