Today, I tasted a few Bordeaux wines with Jean-Louis De Castro (the Distributor) and Philippe Germain (part owner and family member) of "Germain-Saincrit Vignerons", a small family business that owns a few Chateaux on the right bank and one on the left Bank in Bordeaux, but also in the Loire Valley.
Jean-Louis always provides me with excellent value wines from France that are produced in small quantity and he is a delight to work with. Philippe is a very enthusiastic owner-producer-winemaker of a little property in the Loire valley called "La Roulerie" that produces fine, elegant and mineral Coteaux du Layon. And he is also, the sales / marketing Directors in the USA for the all the wines that is family produces.
The wines from Germain-Saincrit fully express their Terroir of origin and rarely failed to surprise me by their complexity and texture. One could say that they make wine with one foot in the traditional way and one foot in a more modern approach without being overripe or over extracted. They usually refrain on the use of new oak, except a few rare cuvees, to allow the pure expression of the fruit and minimize the oak influence. For most of the following wines, the fermentation and maceration is done in stainless still tank; for some, the wine undergoes a malolactitic fermentation which is done in stainless steel tank or in barrel, for others there is no malo to keep freshness and vivacity; most of them are organic and some are produced under the biodynamic method. Overall, the word Natural echoes in all of the Germain-Saincrit wines. These little gems are truly good values in today's market (rise of the barrel of petrol, Dollar devaluation compared to the Euro, economy crisis in Europe and USA, etc...).
2006 Chateau Charron Bordeaux (dry white) produce at the estate of the same name, located a Saint-Martin-Lacaussade (northeastern part of Blaye, right bank)
Suggested retail price $9-$12
A blend of 80% Sauvignon and 20% Semillon, this wine was fermented in stainless steel tank, didn't have any malo, and was aged for 6 months in already used oak barrel (of 1,2 and 3 wines). The color is pale with golden reflects. Discreet aromas of fresh grass, blossom, mineral and yellow skin fruit escape from the glass on the nose. The palate is clean, very well rounded, with a nice balance overall and a good acidity, fresh but not crisp, more soft and easy to drink. Although, not as refreshing as an Entre-Deux-Mers-pure-Sauvignon-blanc, it is a wine of more serious constitution, with a bit more depth and substance. A solid white wine at this price. Pair it with poultry and grilled white river fish served with creamy sauce.
2006 Le Peuy-Saintcrit Bordeaux red (located near Saint-Andre de Cubezac, northeastern part of Bordeaux, Right bank)
Suggested retail price $11-$13
Fruity on the attack, with red and dark berries notes complemented by a nice acidity. Quite enjoyable overall but in an old traditional way: the tannins are a bit green and the finish presents some vegetal notes and bitterness. The attack is nice but unfortunately develops too quickly on green and bitter, may a bit of food would enhance and mask the tannins. Somewhat very British market oriented with definitely less fruit than the American market requires. Seems to be accurate for a Bordeaux 2006 vintage, because it was raining during part of the harvest season. May be a bit of time will do good to this wine.
2005 Chateau Peuy-Saincrit "Montalon" Bordeaux Superieur red
Suggested retail price $12-$15
Made from 40-50 years old vines with very small yield and aged in 50% new barrel, this wine offers aromas of ripe dark cherries, fig, leather, with notes of forest floor. It is bright, medium-bodied with a very nice balance. The tannins are not completely integrated, a good sign of youth, time will tell. Overall this wine displays more attractive features than its sibling, with more fruit, depth and length. Somehow a good classic Bordeaux value, just a bit tannic at the moment.
2005 Chateau Peyredoulle 1eres Cotes de Blaye (near Blaye, about 30 miles northeast of Bordeaux, right bank)
Suggested retail price $9-$11
Personally, one of my favorite of the tasting, especially in this kind of price range. For a stainless steel tank fermented and aged wine, it offers plenty of ripe fruit and lot of texture. The attack develops nicely into the generous, ripe, fruity, concentrated, soft and well rounded mid-palate. The finish is nice, quite long and very ripe. Overall, it is a very enjoyable little wine that doesn't offer a lot of complexity but that has a lot of fruit to spare and a very good structure for a wine that wasn't aged in oak.
2005 Chateau Peyredoulle "Maine Criquau" 1eres Cotes de Blaye Vieilles Vignes
Suggested retail price $13-$16
Superb! This special cuvee from Cht. Peyredoulle was for me the cherry on the cake of today's tasting. What a wine! This is how a good traditional Bordeaux should taste like (in my opinion). Made from 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon hand selected amongst the estate's oldest vines (approximately 75 years old vines), this wine was fermented in stainless steel tank, then aged for about 15 months in partly new big barrels of 400L (called "Fut" which are bigger than the usual Bordeaux barrel of 225L). These Futs are 50% new, 25% 1 wine and 25% 2 wine, to respect the expression of the fruit, enhance the characteristics of the wine and attenuate the wood influence.
The nose is an explosion of second and tertiary aromas created by the harmonious combination of the quality of the grapes and the long aging process in oak. It boasts notes of forest floor, prune, earth, leather, pencil shave, mocca with animal notes, venison and a touch of spice. The palate is extremely well balanced, clean, fresh, medium-bodied, with a lot of character and a vivid acidity that lift the fruit and improve the all structure of the wine from beginning to the end. The long and seamless finish is a delight. I love this wine. And coming from the region of Blaye myself, it is even a bit sentimental and corresponds to a true Bordeaux wine. It will surely age nicely for the next 5 to 8 years, then will probably last for another 10. Wine connoisseur will be happy. Ideal with a grilled rack of lamb, breast of duck confit and venison.
2005 La Roulerie Coteaux du Layon (produce in the village of Thouarce, South of Angers) Loire Valley
Suggested retail price $19-$25
For those of you who do not like very sweet, concentrated dessert wines, Coteaux du Layon is the perfect choice. La Roulerie is the estate of Philippe Germain and his little family. Altough, he likes to talk about all of his family's other wines, he loves his Coteaux du Layon and can't not stop bragging about it. And I don't blame him, because I'm not really a sweet wine drinker, but I loved his Coteaux du Layon when I tried it.
The nose offers discreet notes of white blossoms, unripe apricot, white peach skin, citrus zest and minerals. The palate is fresh, delicate, with a lovely texture and a fantastic balance. The sweetness is elegant and gentle, not too pronounced which for some people may be a default, but I translated it as classy and reserved. The acidity and the minerals combined with the floral and white peach notes play a crucial role for the vivacity and the dentelle like harmony of this wine. Will pair greatly with an apple tart or a lemon cake.
PS: Philippe Germain brought also two other wines from his family's estates, but I wasn't comfortable enough (or found too much flaws or enough interest) to buy them and write about them:
One was: 2005 Chateau Peychaud Maisonneuve Cotes de Bourg, a bit ripper than Peyredoulle Maine Criquau, but with less character and less depth, still intereting for $15. The other one was: 2005 Chateau Bertrand Braneyre Haut-Medoc, aged in 100% new oak, there again interesting, nice fruit in the attack but a finish a bit green.