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An Elite Appellation Goes Mass-Market
By Mary Ewing-Mulligan
Jan 29, 2008
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Christian Moueix 2005 Pomerol, Bordeaux (Kobrand Corporation, $23):

I am a big fan of Christian Moueix--president of Etablissements Jean-Pierre Moueix, a major Bordeaux négociant company that owns or manages legendary châteaux such as Petrus and Trotanoy, and owner of Dominus winery in Napa Valley.  Now, this great value wine gives me all the more reason.  What's so special is not just the wine's very good quality but also the fact that it's part of a dynamite concept: a line of regional Bordeaux reds with non-traditional labels, fair prices, and approachable taste for today's wine drinker.

As many people know, the Bordeaux region has been in a bit of a slump, apart from its elite wines.  Mainstream consumers have gravitated toward varietal wines from the New World dressed in snazzy labels; Bordeaux's regional nomenclature and stuffy labels are too much of a hurdle for most wine drinkers.  Several négociants are addressing this situation by livening up their labels and 'fruitening' up the taste of their wines, and those wines are good.  But many of those new Bordeaux wines are basic Bordeaux, the most generic tier of the region's wines.  Here we have a Pomerol, a wine from the tiniest of the elite Bordeaux districts.  It is perhaps the first non-château Pomerol that I have ever tasted.

The Christian Moueix regional line also includes a Médoc and a Saint-Émilion, both from the excellent 2005 vintage and both priced at $23, like the Pomerol.  All three wines indicate their varietal blend clearly on their back labels: 95%Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc for the Pomerol; 85% Merlot, 15% Cab Franc for the Saint-Émilion; and for the Médoc, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Cab Franc and 5% Petit Verdot.

PomerolTo my taste, the Pomerol is the finest of the three, although I find all three wines very good and worth buying.  The Pomerol is the fullest-bodied and the most densely textured; it has dark, plummy fruit character with a note of minerality and its tannin, moderate in intensity, is very well integrated in the wine's taste.  A long, plump-fruit finish confirms the wine's quality as well as its ability to age.  The Médoc ranks next in weight and richness: medium-plus bodied with dark fruit and spicy flavors that show good concentration, a firm tannin backbone and a linearity of structure appropriate to a Cabernet-dominant wine.  The Saint-Émilion is the least fleshy and the least tannic; it has the most delicacy and finesse, lovely depth on the palate, and some red-fruit character in contrast to the black fruit of the other two wines.  It is the easiest to enjoy right out of the bottle.

To the wine purist in me, it is important that all three of these wines are true to their terroirs.  (You could taste them side-by-side, and have a mini lesson in Bordeaux districts.)  It is also important that these wines genuinely taste like classic Bordeaux, despite being approachable.  This means, of course, that they are very dry and, in comparison to today's ripe-sweet New World reds, you might find them less fruit-driven than you might like.  My advice is to drink them with food, from a large glass.  Good pairings for these wines include hard cheeses, duck confit, braised lamb and white pizza.

90 Points