Sunday, February 11, 2018

Larcis Ducasse highlights Sunday Brunch

Larcis Ducasse St Emilion Bordeaux highlights Sunday Brunch

For Sunday brunch after church Linda prepared French crepes with strawberries with grilled tenderloin steak and spinach. With about a foot of fresh snow on the ground, we considered going out to lunch after church and chose to come home instead. I am so glad we did as it provided the chance for a wonderful brunch with a spectacular wine pairing!

To accompany grilled steak and strawberry crepes for Sunday Brunch, I pulled from the cellar this twelve year old St Emilion Grand Cru Classe Larcis Ducasse. The pairing and delight of the overall experience was spectacular! Simple pleasures of a wine (jerk) geek (oenophile)!

I went down to the cellar looking for this precise profile of a wine, without knowing in advance what label or producer I was looking for. In the end, this was perfect, not too young, not too old, Right Bank Merlot based flavor profile .. an ideal complement to our food. I don't know what was better, the pairing with the char-grilled tenderloin steak, the raspberry crepe, the dark chocolates afterwards, or by itself! All were delightful!

Larcis Ducasse have a total of 27 acres, 24 in production, located on one of Bordeaux's finest areas of terroir, the Cote Pavie in St Emilion, adjacent to the 1er Grand Cru Classé Ch. Pavie estate.

The property was purchased by Henri Raba in 1893 and has been family-owned ever since with the current generation of Jacques Gratiot in in ownership since 1990.

The wine has been made by Nicolas Thienpont along with his chief winemaker David Suire since 2002. Over the following ten years, they improved the quality significantly as recognized by the château being upgraded in 2012 to Premier Grand Cru Classé St.-Emilion classification as testament to its burgeoning quality and reputation.

In addition to replanting the vineyards to a greater density to produce more concentrated fruits, another key change under Thienpont's direction was the removal of Cabernet Sauvignon from the blend which had typically totaled about 5 percent, with the wine now a more classic 80/20 Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend.

The more recent vintages clearly benefit from more precise viticulture and winemaking techniques, featuring brighter, denser fruit, but are showing to age extremely well, as the structure is even more intense while remaining well-embedded.

While 3,300 cases were produced of the 2004 Larcis Ducasse, which is 78% Merlot with the rest Cabernet Franc and a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon, under the new plantings, production has averaged only about 2,500 cases annually.

While prices have started to creep up as the quality and reputation increased, Larcis Ducasse represents a relative high QPR (quality price ratio) bargain for extremely ageworthy Bordeaux. The 2009 can be found for about $75 per bottle, the '10 for $85. The 2004 proved to be a great value as a sleeper of a vintage in Bordeaux that is drinking wonderfully now with online search showing availability for an average of around $65 for the 2004.

The 2014 got a Wine Spectator rating of 93 points, 92 from Parker, 96 from James Suckling and 95 from Vinous and is readily available for about $55.  The 2015 got ratings from 94 to 99 points and is commanding from $75 to $109 on release.

Château Larcis Ducasse St Emilion Grand Cru Classe 2004

This was dark garnet colored, with a slight brown/orange rim starting to set in, medium-full bodied, smooth polished with delightful complex aromas and flavors of plum, black currant and blackberry fruits with tones of earthy leather, black tea, cigar box and spice with hints of truffle, cedar and cassis on the smooth polished tannin finish.

RM 89 points.

Syrah, Syrah for Family Birthday Dinner

Syrah, Syrah for Family Birthday Dinner

For Linda's birthday dinner with family we served two of her favorite wines - Lewis Cellars Ethan's Syrah, with its distinctive 'L' label, and Rosemount Balmoral Syrah.

As I've written in these pages, we have fun with the 'L' label for Linda, ala the old Laverne and Shirley shtick, but also we love Lewis wines.

This one, like their Alec's Blend, which we serve for our son Alec's occasions, is named for a their grandson, so it makes it special for such family occasions.

We gathered at daughter Erin's, and son Ryan brought simmered beef brisket which was ideally matched with the hearty Syrahs, and a hearty cheeses and charcuterie beforehand.

Pictured is Linda with the grandkids (left), and note soon to be seven!

Lewis Cellars Ethan's Syrah 2013

Our visit to Lewis Cellars was one of the highlights of our Napa Valley trip this fall.

We love this style of thick chewy unctuous forward fruit, blackish inky purple colored, full bodied,  rich concentrated core of black and blue fruits give way to a layer of vanilla, spice, and a hint of what Lewis calls 'bacon fat', and a bit of alcohol heat that softens over the course of the evening, finishing with tongue coating tannins.

This was great with the hearty cheeses and beef as well as the fresh fruits and birthday cake dessert!

RM 92 points.

Rosemount Balmoral McLaren Vale Syrah 1996

We are being rewarded for having acquired cases of this wine back upon release. We still hold a dozen or so bottles from those early vintages from 1992 through 2002 that we're working through as they approach end of life. See our tasting notes of the 2000 just the other evening.

This '96 is holding up well at two decades plus, moreso than near vintages, dark garnet colored medium bodied, this has a more moderated subdued palate compared to the other near vintages, nicely integrated blackberry and black raspberry with some notes of blue fruits, tones subtle white pepper, tobacco and leather with subtle soft smooth approachable tannins.

RM 90 points.

Do I dare post this picture? Its a family milestone. Soon to be seven!