Tonight we opened up a bottle of wine we had sent to back from our most recent trip to France, Le Carillon de Rouget Pomerol 2008. It was not a château we visited, but rather a recommendation from a manager in a wine shop as we put together a mixed case that would give us a range of wines to cover our Bourdeaux studies.
So first, Pomerol. It’s in Bordeaux, which of course is in France, and this is not the first wine I’ve covered from that general area. I tasted a wine from Saint-Julien, Connétable de Talbot 2008 a couple of weeks back. Saint-Julien as I said is in the Left Bank, and as such a Cabernet Sauvignon dominated blend. Pomerol, on the other hand, is on the other bank, the Right Bank. It is an area where Merlot dominates blends, with Cabernet Franc being a junior partner, and other varieties often not being present at all. Pomerol has no formal classification system, unlike the long established 1855 classification on the Left Bank. However, some wineries there has such well established reputations that they are valued at least as highly as first growths, among them Château Pétrus and Château Le Pin.
This wine is the second wine from Château Rouget, as the wine two weeks ago was from Château Talbot, but I didn’t really explain what a second wine was. In Bordeaux, as well as some other places, a château will have their grand vin which will carry their name. So if you speak of the wine Château Margaux, no one would ever ask “which one?” in exactly the opposite way that if you were to speak of Penfolds, you would need to be more specific as they produce many wines and none of them is an eponymously named flagship. (Penfolds flagship wine is Grange, for the record.) However, if you are a grand château you will have a large number of wines made every vintage that may go into your blend and from year to year they might vary in quality. Some young vines may not produce up to the high standards of your château’s grand vin. Or perhaps the vintage was tragic with not enough ripeness. For a number of reasons, many châteaux have found it useful to produce a second wine – one that is clearly from their château but which has a reputation separate from their grand vin. The amount produced will vary from year to year, and in particularly challenging years, some châteaux may not produce a grand vin at all. Second wines will typically have their own name to set them apart from the grand vin, and can often represent an opportunity to get a sense of a great château at a fraction of the cost of their grand vin. So while the best fruit/wines will go into the grand vins, and they will in turn receive the best treatment as far as winemaking and oak, second wines are still identified with a château and so are more second sons than orphans.
I can’t say very much about Château Rouget in particular, other than that their plantings are 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc, though the exact blend in this vintage of their second wine is not clear. Their website features Michel Rolland prominently, but he is worth at least a posting all on his own. Curiously, on the entry for Château Rouget, Wikipedia suggests that their second wine is known as Clocher de Rouget, but on their entry for Second wine they name it as Vieux Château des Templiers, neither of which match the bottle in front of me. Just to be clear, I am but a student of wine, and so anyone trying to rely on this blog for accurate data will be disappointed from time to time. Even so, I’m annoyed I can’t pin this down.
Regardless of whatever it actually is (and I will keep researching), it’s very nice. It’s young and while the fruit is strong and forward, I would not call it fruity. It has a certain spiciness that’s very pleasant, and the alcohol is warming in a way that’s quite comforting on a cool evening.
Clear and bright, opaque purple with only the smallest water rim. Quick thick legs.
Clean, developing, and medium-plus intensity of black fruit (plums, cherry, currants) and sweet spice, along with hints of tobacco.
Dry, medium acidity, medium-plus fine tannins, medium-plus alcohol, medium body, medium-plus flavour intensity, with notes of plum, black cherries, cranberry, blackberry, and a bit of meat/blood. Medium-plus length with a spicy finish.
This is a very good quality wine – intense in flavour, and starting to develop complexity of flavours. It is well balanced in its weightiness, with only the body and acidity being slightly less than they could be. The length is nice, particularly with the spice on the finish. While I’m certainly enjoying this wine now, I think it is still very young and will benefit from another 5 years of cellaring during which time I would expect more tobacco and perhaps some chocolate to emerge.