What a sensational gift. The following wine was brought over to Villa de la Vogel for Christa Francis' Friday night "Wine and Dine Fiestathon" by two kind ladies, Jess and Sarah. They brought another 2001 Chianti Classico Riserva, the name of which escapes me right now, but should also prove to be extremely interesting, if not equally good. Though the girls probably didn't realize it, the wines for the dinner had already been preselected, and thus their own wine became ipso facto my mid-week wine # 2, Vignobles Dourthe 'Cour du Roy', Appellation Bordeaux (12,5% abv).
While there seems to be very little information regarding this operation, lacking even a passing mention on Vins et Vignobles Dourthe's own website, www.dourthe.com , I can tell you there's enough info in the bottle and glass to prompt the questions "Where did you buy this?" and "How much did it run ya?" At first, however, I found the low-grade composite cork distracting. It makes the product seems so industrialized. While I understand Dourthe is a very large--some might even go so far as to say industrialized--company, the wines I've tasted from them are nothing if not inspired. At first glance the wine displays an opaque profile, a salmon-tinted rim, and a translucent ruby core. The nose is far from bombastic, as one would hope from Bordeaux, but still puts out blackberry, ripe cherry, cassis and clodded earth with aplomb. Hints of tarragon reminiscent of the other night's Pinot 'M' meet savory sage notes. Nothing overtly says OAK, though the label boasts a 12-month élevage in new oak. This seems to have the requisite ripeness to stand up to whatever its oak regimen may have been. There is nothing green about the wine, and there's only the slightest hint of steminess I frequently find in these more generic Bordeaux AOC wines (though in most others, that note is far more pronounced).
The palate is silky smooth, full of fruity flesh, restrained sweetness, imperceptible tannin, and a pleasantly herbal finish. Cranberry and pomegranate flood the first sensations, followed closely by notes of fresh blueberry and sugared rhubarb, echoing a plowed earth note that carries stridently through the (dare I say) long-ish finish. With ample air and swirling, black licorice really starts to take center stage.
This seems to be standard fare for the folks at Dourthe. I don't know who the talent is behind their viticulture and winemaking team, but this is yet another wine from their large Bordeaux stable that comes free of harsh edges, full of pulpy, vibrant fruit, lacking nothing whatsoever in terms of Bordeaux typicity--acidity, savory but linear fruit, and palatable dirt--and finishing with the freshness that demands gulp after gulp. These are indeed the unifying characteristics of all the great Dourthe wines, the Belgrave's, the le Boscq's: extreme drinkability, respectable complexity, and very fair pricing for the quality. If you see this wine or anything else with the name Dourthe on it at the grocery or the wine shop, rest assured you're getting a fair shake at delicious bargain Bordeaux. They're wines even Joe Dirt--or is it 'Dourthe'?--would be proud of.
Thanks Jess and Sarah!