Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chateau Saint Bonnet Medoc Cru Bourgeois, 1982

The gap between the rich and the poor among Bordeaux estates is widening. When I paid $5.75 for this Medoc Cru Bourgeois, I could have purchased Lafite or Latour for less than $50, Cos d'Estournel for less than $20. For the current 2009 vintage, first growths are priced at $1,000 a bottle and up, Cos for about $300 while Saint Bonnet and other comparable Cru Bourgeois sell for less than $15. "You get what you pay for," some wine drinkers insist, but that's clearly not true.

After 28 years in the bottle, Saint Bonnet is still a dark ruby color with minimal amber tones at the edge. The cork is soggy and hard to remove so it may not have been protecting the wine as intended, but there is really very little oxidation for a wine of this age. I get some slight medicinal smells when the bottle is first opened, but they blow away within a few minutes. The black currant and other fruit aromas that were present in December of 2008, however, have been replaced by mature wine scents--dried cherries, oriental spices and a hint of black tea. Although the blend is 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet, there are none of the green herbal smells that are often associated with Merlot. On the palate, the wine is ripe and charming with a smooth mid-palate and a pleasing finish. This is not a wine to blow you away, but it's very enjoyable for what it is and not at all old.

Saint Bonnet will never compete with Lafite or Cos, of course, and I can't guarantee that recent vintages of this wine were made with the same standards as the 1982. But there are lesser known wines such as Poujeaux and Fourcas Hosten that can be had for a fraction of the price of a classed growth and will give you much more than a fraction of the quality.

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