On the Trail

Opening Night Wines

Clyde Beffa Jr.

We arrived in Bordeaux with only a few hours between our landing and our opening night dinner at Château Rauzan-Ségla, so we rushed to taste at the Barrière negotiant warehouse with Laurent and Jean—always our first stop! It was there we tasted our first 2016s, including an excellent Beychevelle and yet another outstanding Cantemerle. This could be a special vintage; it's somewhat like a cross of 2009 and 2010, but we will see as we go along. The wines have lower alcohol contents than most recent vintages and so far are very aromatic on the nose. Some say that's because of the wet spring. We also grabbed some more of the outstanding 2009 and 2010 Malartic-Lagravière vintages, as well as a few cases of 1995 and 1998 Gruaud-Larose. 

After Barrière it was off to tasting at Rauzan-Ségla, followed by dinner there. Despite what felt like early summer weather, we were welcomed into the parlor by a rip roaring fire, Champagne, duck breast, and the Buena Vista Social Club playing in the backgound. Their 2016 was absolutely superb with cassis and rose petal aromas, sweet middle palate fruit and a lingering finish. The aromatics come through on the backend. There's more cabernet here than usual and overall it's a bit more substantial than 2015. It could be a value if priced right. The château also poured a fantastic 1998, that along with the Gruaud-Larose from earlier showed signs that this vintage might finally be coming around. We'll definitely be buying some of that as well. 

As we were wrapping up our tasting at Barrière and sharing our notes, Laurent surprised us all by opening and decanting side by side the 1986 Leoville Las Cases and the 1986 Mouton Rothschild, two of the most highly regarded wines from one of the best vintages of the 1980’s. An exceptionally generous gesture and a perfect cure for jet lag.

-Clyde Beffa Jr.