2001 Chateau Charmail, Cru Bougeois, Haut-Medoc, Red Bordeaux, France.
The Chateau Charmail is an old estate that dates back to the later have of 17th century and is located in the Haut-Medoc region on the Left Bank of Bordeaux’s famous the Gironde river and is planted to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and a small quantity of Petit Verdot. The soils here are largely made up of classic gravel and clay that most common on this side on the river, which along with the mild climate, are perfectly suited to grape growing, allowing Cabernet Sauvignon to get fully ripe and structured as shows in this beautifully drinking 2001 vintage. Opening this 20 year Bordeaux, which is more of a value, rather than a prestigious growth, brought the best kind of surprise in that is impeccably cellared and had a perfect cork and fill as well as being wonderfully fresh and fleshy with a classic nose of mulberry, creme de cassis, cedar, pencil lead, subtle floral notes and loamy earth leading to medium/full bodied palate of blackberry, dark currant, kirsch and plum fruits that are accented by tobacco leaf, black olive, graphite, anise and a touch of vanilla. Things just kept getting better and better as it opened gaining some nice secondary character with a fine mineral elegance emerging and the vintage’s purity and lift really shines through, it lingers on and on, making for an impressive performance for a wine that mostly was drunk young, delivering pleasure way beyond its price, both new and now.
This 2001 Chateau Charmail was made up of a blend of close to 55% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, plus I believe a tiny fraction of Petit Verdot, which Charmail has planted more of in recent years, along with a bit more Cabernet, that is always clearly present in the profile regardless of percentage in the final blend of the property’s Grand Vin. The soil types here in the Haut-Medoc consist mainly of gravel and clay, along with sand and colluvial sediments. This combination, the winery suggests, is what gives Charmail wines their balance and distinctive qualities, with wines having a subtle elegance from the stones, a sense power and concentration from the clay, which also gives richness to the body, especially with Merlot. Chateau Charmail has moved towards sustainable farming and has refined its techniques over the years, according the winery, to get the best out of their vines and now everything is hand tended and picked, then after the sorting table, where only the best grapes are selected, the fruit is handled in a very gentle manner and by gravity only, so that no pumps or screws damage the grapes as they are fed into the tanks for a slow and cold maceration and fermentation. cold skin contact, developed on the estate, serves to extract from the grape skins all the components that will ensure an optimal tannic structure in the wines. The aging on this Haut-Medoc lasts 12 months in barrels, all of which are, of course, French oak, but with only one third of which are new. I’ve always been a fan of 2001s and this Charmail certainly confirms my views and made for a compelling experience.
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive