Monday, August 4, 2014

Washington Merlot v. St. Emillion

The latest edition of the Tour de France finished up during the last weekend of July.  This year's tour was light on drama in the context of overall victory - Vincenzo Nibali established a lead in the first week of the race and never let go.  Well, he did give up the Yellow Jersey on Bastille Day "as a gift to the French" according to his team's Director Sportif, Alexander Vinokourov.

The race itself was still interesting as the route traced its way through the Alpes and the Pyrenese mountain ranges.  This year the race spent a considerable amount of time traversing the South of France and through the Pyrenese where the final mountain top finish was waiting for the racers.  Once the Hautacam was conquered all that stood in the way of the Paris finish was a sprinter's stage and long (54 km) Time Trial.

The Time Trial started in Bergerac and finished in Periguex, slightly East of the Bordeaux wine region.  That is close enough to Bordeaux to earn top billing on this week's Lucha Vino challenge.

2009 Alexandria Nicole Gravity Merlot v. 2009 Chateau Lyonnat Lussac St. Emilion

The French had their best Tour de France finish in almost 20 years placing two riders on the podium in second and third place.  Can the Ch. Lyonnat follow up that performance with a victory in this week's challenge.  Let's find out...

Tale of the Tape

2009 Alexandria Nicole Gravity Merlot

86% Merlot, 6% Malbec, 6% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, and 1% Carmenere  All from the Destiny Ridge estate vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA

Aged for 20 months in 75% New and 25% 2 year old French Oak Barrels 

Purchased at the winery for $24

2009 Chateau Lyonnat St. Emillion Emotion

85% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Cabernet Franc

Aged in 100% new French Oak Barrels

Purchased at Wine World for $34

Round 1.  First opening

Lyonnat is drawing some serious inspiration from the rejuvenated French cycling regime.  The nose is dark with notes of black currant, leather, wet stone and funky forest floor.  The palate is equally dark with smoky currant and black cherry, clove and menthol spices that are followed by some cracked pepper that lingers to the finish.

Alexandria Nicole is getting off to a slow start.  The nose is dark and musty with notes of cherry, candle wax and leather.  The palate features dark cherries and dried violets followed by an explosion of spices on the mid palate.  The finish is spicy, tart and very dry.

The French Luchador came out with some serious aggression and took the first round.

Round 2.  One hour after opening

The Chateau Lyonnat is gaining confidence and some swagger.  The nose is showing dark cherry and notes of dusty cocoa powder.  The palate features dark cherries, currant, light smoke, cocoa and clove spices followed by some cracked pepper that repeats on a dry spicy finish.

Alexandria Nicole is somewhat dazed and confused by the massive French attack!  The nose is somewhat muted with dark fruit and herbal hints of mint.  The palate bring notes of dark fruit and herbal dry cocoa powder that trails on to a dry finish with notes of barrel and cedar spices.

The Washington State Luchador is narrowing the gap, but France takes another round and a commanding 2-0 lead.

Round 3.  One day after opening

The Lyonnat is showing some stamina with notes of dark dusty currant, leather and light smokiness on the nose.  The palate is also showing signs of leather along with tobacco, dark currants and cracked pepper that doubles down on the finish that also bring some hints of cocoa powder to the party.

Alexandria Nicole still seems to be searching for some mojo.  The nose is clean and dark with notes of cherry and dusty leather.  The palate repeats the dark cherry character and is joined by some dry cocoa and cedar spice notes that are followed by a dry cracked pepper finish.

Lyonnat takes the last round for a stunning 3-0 victory over the Washington State Merlot.  I can say that I never expected this result!

Wrap up and overall observations.

The Bordeaux from 2009 was definitely on top of its game while the Alexandria Nicole seemed to be in a bit of a funk.

The Alexandria Nicole was interesting and I think it will be much better with some more time in the cellar.  I will be interested to come back and revisit this one in another year.

If you favor Right Bank Bordeaux then I would recommend searching out some of this 2009 Chateau Lyonnat.

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