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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Travel Tuesday: A Visit to Third Growth Chateau Giscours

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes” – Marcel
Proust
Today, as some of you may know is Travel Tuesday; that means it’s time to think long and hard about taking a step away from the shore and jumping on a ship of exploration. It's has been said you can keep your foot on first and expect to steal second, and so it's with wine exploration. Having taking more a few trips to meet the wonderful folks behind the labels in far away lands like Bordeaux; I’d like to encourage each of you to give the old wine-world a good swirl, and put something new and fresh in your collective glasses and lean into it.

Like it or not, France is home to many of your favorite varietals you know and love today. A trip to Bordeaux is like taking a trip back to where it all began. And for many winemakers here in the U.S. they draw their inspiration from the great wines found in Bordeaux. So with that said; welcome to Bordeaux and a beautiful Third growth property [one of fourteen] in the heart of Margaux, called Chateau Giscours, as you can see it's an age-old property dating back to the 14th century. Although it's a third growth property, it doesn't have some overly inflated prices to match the prestige that comes with such an august title.

So the evolution of wine here, has more than a few centuries on New World producers and as a result you'll find the same grapes, have a very different expression than wines produced from those same grapes in the New World. The wine produced at Left Bank Chateau Giscours, comes from one of fourteen properties which was classified as Troisièmes Crus [Third Growth] via the Official Classification of 1855, and if you come for a taste and tour, be prepared to experience 600 years of commitment to great vines and wines. 

“There is no creation without tradition; the 'new' is an inflection on a preceding form; novelty is always a variation on the past.”  ―  Carlos Fuentes

People often say to me, "I don't want ‘that’ because I can't taste it!" But what I think they are really saying is "I'm not familiar with ‘that’ and I so they can't trust uncorking an unknown wine and what it will do for me". That's a good point and I truly get that, but how do you fix that issue? One way I recommend; is to go to "focused" tastings where you can experience many new wines from new regions, for anyone interested in expanding their vinous horizons, this is a habit I'd highly recommend leaning into with gusto, maybe even some reckless abandon.

But if you want to truly drill down a bit deeper and you fancy yourself as the adventurous type; you can take a wine-tourism-trip to get a first hand experience with new wines flavors and styles in their country of origin. Which is something I've been doing for many years now and the experience has been invaluable. Many folks just learn from books and that is fine, but there's really nothing that can replace the experience of being there, and I believe it makes all the difference. But hey, don't just come for the bountiful wine-experience, stay for the wonderful culture. So what are you waiting for? Book it now, you'll thank me later.

This where you have an opportunity to make a connection to the folks behind the label; where you can not only learn to drink like a local, but eat like one too. Taking the road less traveled, with each sip, swirl and slurp and possibly [maybe inevitably] the eventual burp oh-my. This folks is the tipping point for a majority of wine-geeks like me, because once you experience the wine lifestyle outside the comfy confines of the ‘states’, I believe this where you become complexly hooked. If you'd like to get down and dirty, with all the nitty-gritty details about "a terroir like no other" you'll want to click on the link to read about why dirt matters.

"Chateau Giscours is a large estate with nearly 400 hectares of vines and landscaped grounds. With 97 planted hectares of vines, the vineyards are planted to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and the remainder 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot." ~ The Soul Of Great Wine

You go abroad enamored with wine drinking and wine culture and come back with a passion that can lay siege to your very soul [maybe a bit of hyperbole]. But honestly, [speaking from personal experiences] once you have peaked behind the curtain, there's no going back to the mundane world of commodity wines.Even folks with a cursory knowledge of history, can see the imprint wine has made upon lives and culture throughout the the ages. For me, it's the kind of experience that just grabs you and pulls you in, like no other beverage really can or ever will, wine is in the fabric of nearly every great nation and peoples on this planet, embrace it. 


The first wine is our groups glasses was their 2004 La Sirene de Giscours, a second label, mostly not available here in the states, but if you do happen to find it, you'll be thrilled by its wonderful balance and sense of place, a wine which met many of expectations. Definitely, a leaner year but this wine still has dried plums, coffee, old tobacco and other toasty aromas swirling just above the rim of the glass.On the palate, there's a richness on the front end, which seems to fade a bit on the mid-palate, but still finishes nicely. The tannins are soft, and the red/dark fruits has plenty of acid to carry the weight. I really enjoyed this and it paired perfectly with many of the French cheeses seen above. I scored this wine 90 points and it sells for a SRP of $30.


I've had the good fortune to sample this wine [The 2006 Chateau Giscours, Cru Classe, Margaux] more than a few times, I've tasted it while I was visiting them last year and more recently I sampled it again after taking it home from a tasting at Bird Rock Fine Wine, which by the way, currently stocks this wine. My overall impression this wine is classic Bordeaux, sporting the characteristic cedar notes, cigar, freshly ground coffee and old-leather and not to worry there's plenty of rich red and dark fruits, vibrant dark plum, blackberry and dark cherry. 

The aromatics, of pencil lead and underbrush are not all that enticing, but once you get into the body of this, after it has been decanting for hours, it unfolds ever so nicely and makes each sip and slurp, pure wine drinking pleasure. Textured and layered this wine offers a delightful experience. The finish is long, and lean at the same time if that is possible, would I buy this wine again? You betcha, I scored this gem 92 points and highly recommend it to you. It sells for $59 and has the stuffing to go many more years in the cellar. 

As you're reading this, I hope you'll think of my words as type of invitation to get out there, book a trip to see great wines of Bordeaux up close and personal. go see for yourselves the breadth and depth of what is available on this vinous third rock from the sun. I think you too will come back with a deeper, greater appreciation and understanding of why wine is not just an ordinary beverage. Like that sad, little bottle, of Jack Daniels you slurped down, on the last flight you took to Reno, why Reno, who knows but we won't talk about what may have happened to you there. Honestly, tho I think wine-exploration whether by travel or just uncorking something new can help the average person find a broader and perhaps better perspective on the wine world. Until next time folk, remember life is short, so sip long and prosper cheers!

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