Saturday, January 21, 2017

Reignac Bordeaux Supérieur 2005

Reignac Bordeaux Supérieur 2005

A quiet Friday night at home in front of the fire with a movie, we had grilled steak, baked apples and this supple casual sipping red Bordeaux Supérieur wine.

Bordeaux Supérieur is another of those designations that adds to the confusion or complexity of Bordeaux wines and therefore makes them somewhat intimidating to many who are trying to decipher the numerous labels. Its not enough that there are over fifty appellations in the greater Bordeaux region, but there are also regional AOC, designations that may be used throughout the region.

Bordeaux Supérieur is one of seven regional Appellations d'origine contrôlée (AOCs) that may be used throughout the Gironde (the river valley that forms the region). They are Bordeaux Rouge AOC, Bordeaux Supérieur Rouge, Bordeaux Clairet, Bordeaux Rosé, Bordeaux Blanc, a dry white, and Bordeaux Supérieur Blanc, a sweet white, and Crémant de Bordeaux, a sparkling wine. 

The regional appellations together form the largest world-class wine vineyard, making up more than half of the production of the Bordeaux wine region. and representing more than 55% of all Bordeaux wines consumed in the world.

These generally are entry-level Bordeaux wines, and tend to be fruity and easy-to-drink, suitable for early consumption rather than longer term cellaring. The more ambitious reds are usually sold as Bordeaux Supérieur AOC. As I have written often in these pages, in top vintages, 'all boats rise with the tide', and even these lower priced entry level wines can be very good, even exceptional, offering great high QPR (quality price ratio) values. So look for these designations in years of ideal growing conditions resulting in above average wines for great value.

The Bordeaux Supérieur appellation covers the same geographic area as Bordeaux AOC. They are often produced by single parcels of older vines. In all cases, Bordeaux Supérieur wines must be aged for at least twelve months before they can be sold.

Just like most regular Bordeaux, these are blends, with the reds being predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and increasingly Malbec, and occasionally, some Carmenere. Those produced on the north and easterly side of the Gironde River, known as 'Right Bank' wines, tend to be predominantly Merlot accented by Cabernet, while those on the opposite side (westerly south side - "Left Bank") are primarily Cabernet accented by Merlot, and the lesser accent varietals.

Bordeaux Superieur can be found anywhere in Bordeaux, but most regional Bordeaux AOC wines are produced on the Right Bank. and tend to be from the area north of St. Emilon and Pomerol.

As in all the Bordeaux AOC wines, there are strict rules that govern the vineyards and wines in order to carry the designation label. Under the strict guidelines of French appellation law, for a Bordeaux to be classified as Superieur, it must come from a vineyard that is planted to a specific density with 4,500 plants per hectare with a distance of 2.2 meters between rows, compared to 4,000 plants per hectare with a distance of 2.5 meters between rows for regular Bordeaux. This higher density stresses the vines, since it is harder for the plants to survive, resulting in stronger deeper roots, and generally healthier vines. The result of these practices usually creates a superior wine with a richer and more complex flavor.

Reignac is a large 200-acre vineyard that sits on a high plateau near the village of Saint-Loubès. Reignac are known to produce consistent high achieving wines that are superior to the modest appellation (Bordeaux Supérieur) designation. The proprietors Yves and Stephanie Vatelot turned out a superlative effort in this vintage that is cru classé quality. The 2005 may be one of the all-time great Reignacs.

Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate said of this wine, "Despite its humble appellation, this is a very serious wine that is qualitatively up there with some of the better classified growths of the Medoc." He gave it 90 points.

Deep ruby/purple color, medium-full bodied, nicely balanced, black currant and black berry fruits, notes of mocha chocolate, anise, graphite and spice box, moderate concentration and acidity, supple ripe tannin makes for pleasant smooth easy casual drinking.

This 2005 Reignac was 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon.

RM 89 points. 
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate 90 points.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar 88-90 points.
Wine Spectator 90 points.

Previously reviewed -