Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chateau Bel Air Haut-Medoc, 1990

This Cru Bourgeois is produced by Domaines Henri Martin, which also makes Chateau Gloria and Chateau Saint Pierre. I don't see much of Gloria and Saint Pierre these days, but they ranked near the top of popular medium-priced Bordeaux in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Bel Air is even a little cheaper than these wines, but I have found the quality to be very good, particularly in strong vintages such as 1986 and 1990. I've had this 1990 several times over the past five years, and it has always made a strong showing.

The color is a deep, dark ruby with brilliant tones. And from the first sniff I get deep scents of currants, dark cherries, green herbs, cassis and leather. Beautifully developed bouquet; all of the elements are blending together nicely. On the palate, Chateau Bel Air is light to medium bodied with a cool uplift and plenty of ripe tannins on the mid-palate. The flavors are fresh and vibrant for a 20-year-old Cru Bourgeois.

The price tag on my bottle reads $10.59. If you can find a current vintage of this wine, it may be about the same price or even cheaper. Like Tour Saint-Bonnet, this is an overlooked and undervalued Haut Medoc well worth checking out.

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