Bordeaux Supérieur Uncorked: A Visit to Chateau Recougne

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you imagine."- Henry David Thoreau

It's throwback Thursday, please join me as I climb into the way-back machine, mid-November of 2013, an interim head coach was found internally, after a tumultuous season of mockery and derision. An unlikely hero, a man merely known to players, students, and fans as Coach O. But Ed Orgeron, a simple D-line coach who had been with the team since 1998, had finally got his chance. We watched a few of the games he coached on the tube, Mrs. Cuvee and I were both impressed with the new direction of the team and sense of pride this coach brought with him to the field.

It was way late in the fourth quarter of the much anticipated USC vs. Stanford game, the unranked and presumed underdog Trojans decided to go for it on 4th and 2 yards to go in the final moments of the game. The fans were urging the Coach to go for it; an injured Marqise Lee tells the coach“I’ve got one more in me” and goes back in for one more play.

A decision from a coach who supposedly had no chance against a superior team, but that gusty call just happened to be the nail in Stanford’s coffin that cold November evening under the bright lights of the Coliseum. A shaky USC kicker had to make a long field goal attempt to be the hammer on that nail. It’s interesting to note, that the same kicker who had missed the point-after attempt earlier in the game, far before his pivotal moment on the field, fellow player Mr. Lee comes by, puts his arm on his shoulder and says, “I believe in you.” When the ball sailed through the uprights, the Coliseum erupted, and it was only a few tense moments after the last few seconds ticked off the clock, and sealed the hard-fought final victory; that stands emptied like the outgoing tide with a good majority of the fans spilling out onto the field to celebrate.

At that moment I thought “there’s nothing like being there” in this great moment. Seeing USC upset Stanford back then reminds of a now hackneyed motivational phrase, “that it is not the size of the dog in a fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” What is true in sports, also happens to be true in wine. In wine really? Yes, and it’s why I adapted that phrase to describe something I see in the wine world all the time, “It’s not the size of the price on that bottle that counts, it’s the size of the wine in the bottle which makes all the difference."  While that's not always the case, but when it comes to wines from Chateau Recougne, it could not be more accurate.

Just because you pay more, it doesn't all mean you'll get more, my favorite catchphrase when it comes to wine. Take the example of Lane Kiffin of who I'm sure had a plush contact deal which was far more generous than coach Ed Orgeron's (who now is the head coach of LSU), fast-forward a few years, and we all now know how that decision turned out. No one had high hopes for either USC or Coach Orgeron, who was later summarily dismissed for a more iconic, well-spoken perfect for the part coach.

It's this same underdog status that Bordeaux Supérieur seems to have in the wine world, and is similar to unlikely former line coach, who took a dejected team and built them into a force to be reckoned with for the remainder of the season. The team and the coach all gave a tour de force performance that evening, one I will not soon forget. From those eye-opening experiences in Bordeaux in the fall of 2013 and since then, I think these wines are best viewed in a new light of discovery; and being there, seeing it for myself, meeting the great folks behind the labels and centuries-old Chateaus did make all the difference for shaping my perceptions and validating my point of view.

To be honest, I’ve never given those wines (Bordeaux Supérieur) much thought myself and rarely went out of my way to secure these wines for my cellar. When I was asked earlier that year (2013) to take a week-long journey into the heart of Bordeaux Supérieur, I was intrigued by the opportunity and readily agreed. I've been back from that experience for more than a few years now, and I still think about those adventures nearly every day.

I think many of you will most likely be surprised by some of the discoveries I've made, or perhaps you're just old jaded wine fossil who knows everything there is to know about wine. Either way, I hope you'll stick around for this fascinating exploration into Bordeaux Superior, Chateau Recougne and the great wine values just waiting for you.

 "We delight in the beauty of a butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone thru to achieve that beauty." ~ Maya Angelou

One of the most fantastic wine discoveries came the day our team visited Chateau Recougne, and it was also one of the very best dining (lunch) experiences I had while I was in France (mind blowing really). Robert Parker at one time called Recougne the finest Bordeaux Superieur, based on the wines I tasted that day, I believe that statement is still accurate.

It is an estate that has produced wine for over 400 years, and its name is said to have come from King Henri IV in the early 17th century, in "recognition" of the quality of its wine. It would appear that even then, their wines were very well regarded not only for the excellent quality to price ratio but also for their fantastic consistency. So in drinking their wines, it would be safe to say you can drink like a king for pauper's prices.

Their vineyards, which surround the Chateau and the Crush Pad, were classified under the Fronsac Appellation back in the day, where Merlot is the majority planting taking up 75% of planted vineyard space. Merlot also happens to be the best suited to the terroir, which is then complemented by both Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) and Cabernet Franc (10%).

As you can see from the picture above we tasted 1966, and 1999 as well as 2010. Folks, you may not believe but look closely they have not changed the label too much in all those years. They also have not changed the 'recipe' for producing uber high-quality wines that won't break the bank. These wines sell for $15 to $19 each most places, talk about real bang for the buck.

Some of the well-regarded wine-sages have suggested, "these wines are not likely to age well" said in a dismissive smug tone. I'd recommend we collectively not give these so-called experts who purport to know all and see all in the wine world so much credence. The bottle from 1966, a 47-year-old bottle had aged amazingly well, I was blown away by the depth and polish this wine was still displaying. While you can no longer purchase 'the 1966', it's a reminder to all guest of the excellent aging potential of their Bordeaux Superior.

Their 1999 wowed me, and it wanted to party like it was still 1999. This wine [decanted] still displaying gorgeous structure. A smoothly textured wine with light tannins and a long finish, flavors of dark plum, underbrush, cassis, licorice, vanilla, and toasty oak in the background. Another fantastic blast from their past which I thought had to be from a much more exceptional pedigreed background, but no a Bordeaux Superior drinking like Grand Cru Classe and no that's not pure hyperbole either.

Their vintage 2010, uh I'd grab all you can and then grab some more because it's off the charts good (to excellent) and will only get better with some more bottle age. If you have a case or two socked away, you'll thank me later because it's that amazing. That was then, I doubt you'll come across much of it today, but with having a tasted a good majority of 2015 you may want to grab as much of that vintage as you can afford, that is if reasonably priced Bordeaux is your thing.

Folks, if you've not encountered their wines before and to be honest I've never had until the day of my visit in 2013, you owe to yourself to give their wines a swirl at your earliest convenience. These are wines of real substance, wines with a soul that definitely tastes like the region they come from, there's no mega purple here, no fillers just solid well made wines that may not blow your mind, but they will have you believe you really are drinking like a king for a pauper's price (don't doubt me). So until next folks remember life is too short to drink bad wine, so sip long and prosper cheers!


Popular Posts