Chateau Ampelia Castillon-Cotes de Bordeaux 2011

W Ampelia 2011Bordeaux Red Blend, St. Philippe d’ Aiguilhe, Castillon-Cotes de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France

95% merlot

5% cabernet franc

13.5% alcohol

Purchased: 24 April 2014 – $17.99

Opened: 14 Feb 2018

els: 8.9/10

Wine Enthusiast: 92

Cellar Tracker: 89

Wine Spectator: 88

The Despagne family has been making wines in the Saint-Emilion AOC  for more than 200 years. Today Francois, a seventh generation descendent of the Despagne family, is currently manager, since 1996, of Grand Corbin-Despagne winery and founder of the Chateau Ampelia in 1999. Breaking with family tradition the new winery and vineyards are located to the east, and adjacent to Saint-Emilion in the Castillon-Cotes de Bordeaux appellation 1.5 miles west of Saint-Philippe-d’Aiguille, and a little more than 4 miles north of the Dordogne River. This AOC was upgraded from Bordeaux Superior in 2008 and the area includes about 230 families working, on average, 25 acres of vines; predominately Merlot (70%), but also Cabernet Franc (20%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%).  Vines in this area date back to at least the 2nd century AD when the Romans planted Vitus Biturica, an ancient cousin of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

Merlot, the most planted grape in France, in known for its mellow and rounded flavors and is often blended with its close cousin: Cabernet Sauvignon and or its parent: Cabernet Franc, to soften them up. Cabernet Franc is a black skinned grape that imparts a peppery character to Bordeaux blends.

The grapes are harvested and sorted twice, once in the vineyard and then again at the winery. They are crushed, de-stemmed and fermented in temperature controlled, concrete and stainless steel tanks.  The post-fermented juice is racked into French oak barrels, one-third which are new, and allowed to age for 12 months before being blended and bottled.

The wine has ruby-red color with a garnet rim. A bouquet of cherries, plums and cedar with a hint of pepper. On the palate the wine is medium-bodied with soft tannins.  It has a pleasant, medium lasting, and soothing finish. Not overly bold but a refreshing wine.

A good wine but hard to find and a little expensive for the quality. Pair with a snack of soft cheese and berries.  Drink now, but should last for another year or two.  Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.

$22.37 (limited availability)


Viu Manent ViBo Vinedo Centenario 2014

W Vibo 2014Bordeaux Red Blend from Colchagua Valley, Rapel Valley, Central Valley, Chile

65% cabernet sauvignon

35% malbec

13.5% alcohol

Opened 31 Jan 2018

els: 9.2/10

Wine Advocate: 91

Colchagua Valley is in the southern and western portions of Rapel Valley, which itself is located in the middle of the 250 mile long Central Valley, all situated between the Andes to the east and the Coastal Ranges to the west. The northern edge of the Colchagua Valley is defined by the life giving, Rapel River and its main tributaries: the Tinguiririca and Cachapoal Rivers. The valley, sheltered from the cold Pacific winds by the Coastal Ranges, has a mild Mediterranean climate, warm but not too hot, or too cold, with rainfall that averages about 24″ per year. The main wine of the valley is Cabernet Sauvignon but in recent years Malbec has been added to the vineyards to capitalize on their Argentinian success on the other side of the Andes. The better wineries of Colchagua Valley have their vineyards located on the eastern slopes of the Coastal Ranges.

In 1935 the Viu family, Catalonian immigrants, founded a Bodega in Santiago, Chile to bottle and market wines locally.   The family, in 1966 purchased a winery and its vineyards in the Colchagua Valley which included very old, pre-Phylloxera, French derived vines.  This purchase marked the beginning of the family’s proprietary production of wine. In 2009, Vibo made its appearance on the Chilean and International markets.

Viu Manent, the Viu family company, operates 3 vineyards, totaling 627 acres, in Colchagua Valley: San Carlos, La Capilla, and El Olivar.  The San Carlos vineyard is 370 acres of 40 year-old plus vines, some more than 100 years old, growing at 800′ above sea level in very thick and porous, silty-sand to clayey-sand soils. The vineyard was established in the 1800s with pre-Phylloxera, French root-stock and vines. The La Capilla vineyard is about 93 acres dedicated to red-wine-only vines growing at 750 feet in a pebbly limestone and limey soil.  The vines are on average 16 years old. The El Olivar is a new land acquisition which the company plans to develop into about 175 acres of vines at an elevation between 500-930′, located on the steep slopes, up to 45°, of the Coastal Range foothills in pebbly-clayey soils.

Vibo Vinedo Centenario is produced from the oldest vines from the San Carlos vineyard. The 2014 growing season was delayed by long spring frosts which eventually led to hot summer days in the low 80s°F but the nights were cooler than normal, resulting in sustained high acidity levels for the grapes until harvest.

The grapes were hand harvested, de-stemmed and crushed in stainless steel tanks. After a 5-day cold water soak the grapes were fermented in natural yeasts.  Malolactic fermentation occurred in oak vats. The wine was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, about 20% which are new oak.

The wine has ruby-red color with a garnet rim. A bouquet of fruity herbs and spice. The tongue stays happy with a great balance of tannins and acidity.  A wonderful finish.

An outstanding wine at a good price.  Serve with cheese, beef, lamb or duck. Drink now, but should last until 2020-2022. Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.


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