I don't drink Cabernet or Bordeaux blends nearly as much as I once did. When I do, this is the kind of wine that catches and holds my attention. I have bought Tour St. Bonnet in good ageworthy vintages such as 1982, 1990 and 1995 and never been disappointed. I never paid more than $10 a bottle, and in 2009 futures offerings by Village Corner in Ann Arbor, the wine can be purchased for $139 a case--less than $12 a bottle. No other Cabernet blend I know gives as much serious pleasure for the price. And it ages very well.
Compared to the 10-year-old Margaret River Cab from Xanadu (see June 30 note below), this 20-year-old beauty is still vigorous and powerful, almost too young. And the power comes from fruit tannins rather than oak or alcohol. Like most Chateauneuf du Pape estates and some of the more traditional Bordeaux ones, Tour Saint Bonnet ages the wine for 18 months in large oak foudres that are seasoned enough that they impart no oak traits. The alcohol level is 12% compared to 15% for the Xanadu. The Xanadu offers up pleasant sweetish notes of black currant and blackberry--classic Cabernet--but the wine is simple and undistinguished compared to its cousin from the Medoc.
Tour St. Bonnet 1990 has a deep ruby color that is beginning to turn to garnet around the edges. The bouquet is well formed and powerful, welling up from the bottle even before a glass is poured. More dark cherries than currants here. Also some purple flowers and herbs, but nothing in the vicinity of green. There is only a small amount of Malbec in the blend, but at this stage it has many of the scents and flavors of a fine Malbec. In the mouth, the wine is medium bodied and powerful, maybe still a bit firm in the middle for my taste. I still have several bottles of this so I am looking forward to enjoying it again and again as it develops in the bottle. Tour St. Bonnet is what having a cellar is all about.