The UGC Bordeaux' (Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB)) producers' annual North American tour descended on Chicago this week to showcase their 2013 vintage release. The UGC is an association of 133 grands crus producers from heralded Gironde estates. My blogpost from last year's tour event talked in more detail about the UGC and the Bordeaux classification.
Once again, the event is organized by Napa based Balzac Communications, under the direction of Founder Paul Walker and CEO/Principle Mike Wangbickler. About 450 members of the trade and media were treated to taste the latest vintage release from eighty-two producers that were scheduled to attend.
Then, about 250 attendees attended the evening session that is open to the general public, hosted and orchestrated by Doug Jeffirs and the wine team from Binny's Beverage Depot, the Chicagoland superstore.
Its a wonderful event and we're grateful to the producers who participate in this ambitious and rigorous trip across North America.
This year the itinerary has been expanded to eight cities as new stops have been added for public events in collaboration with select merchants in Florida and Canada, such as the Binny's event here in Chicago.
This year the weather in Chicago was unusually mild and warm, more than offset by the blizzard that hit the Northeast dumping two feet of snow on New York. Lucky for the tour the storm hit over the weekend reducing disruption, unlike the last two years when several producers faced flight delays and some cancellations.
The Pour Boys are avid wine collectors, our wine dinner group that meet regularly for wine centered tastings and social events - shown left, Ernie, Dr Dan, with Paul W, Lyle, me and Bill, as the core group. Such an event is great fun, an escape and vast departure from our normal daily duties tending to corporate litigation, dentistry, high tech, and retirement, when not working these events.
Members of the trade may also recall us from last fall's Grands Crus Classes of St Emilion 2015 Chicago tasting.
The next generation represented by Jared Gelband (shown with me, left), Sommellier at the Wine Bar in the Intercontinental Hotel Chicago, special friend of son-in-law Johnnie and daughter Erin.
The 2013 Bordeaux vintage presented some challenges for the winemakers, starting off as one of the coldest and wet starts to a growing season in more than 40 years and a later than expected harvest. One silver lining to the intense cold faced early was that it may have helped hinder potential diseases in the vines. An impact of the difficult year were lower crop yields, which when managed properly can still result in some fine wines from Producers with terroir, care and attention to detail, and a bit of luck. Watch for lower volumes in the premium labels with more volume attributed to the lesser labels.
Most likely, these wines will be ones to provide earlier drinking gratification rather than be properly structured for long term aging. This provides collectors a possible chance to enjoy these off year wines while the greater vintages continue to mature.
Bordeaux along with the rest of France endured a cold February and March, and May was especially cold and wet. Things only got worse in June with an early storm as the cool wet weather continued. Finally warm days came in July with early heat spikes, but still excessive moisture persisted with another storm coming late in the month, perhaps the worst storm in a decade or more.
Finally things improved with warmer days and sunshine arriving in August and continued into September, only to be faced with another storm late in the month.
This was evident in the tasting as the Sauternes and Barsac appellation seemed to be the highlight (left) with all labels showing well. I personally especially liked the Latour Blanche which stood out with its apricot punctuated forward fruits.
The St Julien appellation stood out with highlights being Chateaus Talbot and Beyechevelle. It was a surprise to see David Launay, former winemaker for Gruaud Larose attending again this year, but this time representing Chateau Grand-Puy-Ducasse (and Chateau Meyney, not presented).
I thought the Pauillac standout was Pichon Baron. I sensed it would be when I opened the bottles earlier, in preparation for the opening of the event, when the room burst with aromatics of floral and berry fruits.
Chateau Clinet and Chateau Troplong Mondot were both notable from the right bank.
Canon-le-Gaffeliere was remarkably light, almost delicate, with a layer of sweetness ... ready for early drinking gratification, but not built for long term aging.
The always delightful, Bernard Olivier attended representing Pessac Leognan Domaine Chevallier, but the evangelism duties were attended to by son Hugo while Bernard tended to ambassadorial duties as presiding President of the UGC. I watch and enjoy observing this transition as I enjoy the experience with my own son Ryan in the progression of his wine appreciation and knowledge, as well as his own cellar collecting.
The 2013 vintage should provide some lower priced wines that will provide earlier near term drinking.
The Chateau represented on this year's tour.
|1||Château de Chantegrive||Graves|
|2||Château Carbonnieux||Pessac Léognan|
|3||Château Les Carmes Haut Brion||Pessac Léognan|
|4||Domaine de Chevalier||Pessac Léognan|
|5||Château de Fieuzal||Pessac Léognan|
|6||Château de France||Pessac Léognan|
|7||Chateau La Louviere||Pessac Léognan|
|8||Château Latour Martillac||Pessac Léognan|
|9||Château Malartic Lagravière||Pessac Léognan|
|10||Château Olivier||Pessac Léognan|
|11||Château Pape Clément||Pessac Léognan|
|12||Château Smith Haut Lafitte||Pessac Léognan|
|13||Château Canon||Saint Emilion Grand Cru|
|14||Château Canon La Gaffelière||Saint Emilion Grand Cru|
|15||Château La Couspaude||Saint Emilion Grand Cru|
|16||Château La Dominique||Saint Emilion Grand Cru|
|17||Château Troplong Mondot||Saint Emilion Grand Cru|
|18||Château Villemaurine||Saint Emilion Grand Cru|
|20||Château Le Bon Pasteur||Pomerol|
|21||Château La Cabanne||Pomerol|
|24||Château La Pointe||Pomerol|
|25||Château Clarke||Listrac Médoc|
|26||Château Chasse Spleen||Moulis en Médoc|
|27||Château Maucaillou||Moulis en Médoc|
|29||Château Beaumont||Haut Médoc|
|30||Château de Camensac||Haut Médoc|
|31||Château Cantemerle||Haut Médoc|
|32||Château Citran||Haut Médoc|
|33||Château Coufran||Haut Médoc|
|34||Château La Lagune||Haut Médoc|
|35||Château La Tour Carnet||Haut Médoc|
|36||Château La Tour de By||Médoc|
|38||Château Brane Cantenac||Margaux|
|39||Château Cantenac Brown||Margaux|
|44||Chateau Malescot St Exupery||Margaux|
|45||Château Prieuré Lichine||Margaux|
|46||Château Rauzan - Ségla||Margaux|
|47||Château du Tertre||Margaux|
|48||Château Beychevelle||Saint Julien|
|49||Château Branaire Ducru||Saint Julien|
|50||Château Gloria||Saint Julien|
|51||Château Gruaud Larose||Saint Julien|
|52||Château Lagrange||Saint Julien|
|53||Château Langoa Barton||Saint Julien|
|54||Château Léoville Barton||Saint Julien|
|55||Château Léoville Poyferré||Saint Julien|
|56||Château Saint Pierre||Saint Julien|
|57||Château Talbot||Saint Julien|
|59||Château Clerc Milon||Pauillac|
|60||Château Grand Puy Ducasse||Pauillac|
|61||Château Grand Puy Lacoste||Pauillac|
|62||Château Lynch Bages||Pauillac|
|63||Château Lynch Moussas||Pauillac|
|64||Château Pichon Baron||Pauillac|
|65||Château Lafon - Rochet||Saint Estèphe|
|66||Château Ormes De Pez||Saint Estèphe|
|67||Château de Pez||Saint Estèphe|
|68||Château Phélan Ségur||Saint Estèphe|
|70||Château Doisy Daëne||Barsac|
|71||Château Bastor - Lamontagne||Sauternes|
|72||Château de Fargues||Sauternes|
|74||Chateau Clos Haut Peyraguey||Sauternes|
|75||Château Lafaurie Peyraguey||Sauternes|
|76||Château de Rayne Vigneau||Sauternes|
|78||Château La Tour Blanche||Sauternes|