06 March 2009

2005 Château Bonnet

2005 was a great year for Bordeaux and there was a lot of excitement around this vintage. Prices skyrocketed and bottles vanished off the shelves. I'm sure most of the best stuff has been socked away in cellars and caves, and perhaps collectors will begin trying those wines in another few years. As I'm not a collector nor do I have the proper facilities for long-term aging, I figured that I would mostly miss out on this big vintage when it was drinkable and affordable. But surprisingly some bargains remain on retail shelves: for instance, take the 2005 Château Bonnet from André Lurton, $18, 13% abv.

I'm not an expert on Bordeaux, but I've had the pleasure of tasting Latour and Petrus, and an understanding of the wonderful five red grapes of the region has led me to a deep love of Bordeaux-style blends made in California and Chile.

The Bonnet is half Cabernet Sauvignon, half Merlot. I decanted it a good four hours before serving, and it delivered a performance I've normally seen in wines at twice the price. The tannins are still firmly in place and no doubt will soften after another five years or so. It's got an aroma of... the best way I can describe it is church basement. It's not corked, I'm not talking about wet cardboard. It's more along the lines of leather-bound books and broken pianos sitting in storage. Beneath that you've got blueberries, white pepper, vanilla, and dried cherries. The flavor is a little more closed, with cherry and plum showing up.

I enjoyed it alongside a Pittsburgh-rare ribeye topped with a sunny side up egg (naturally letting the yolk run down into the steak). It's the kind of meal that some kid reads about in an old novel and gets so ill she decides to become a vegetarian.

During dinner I watched Bottle Shock, the film about the 1976 Judgment of Paris in which American wines beat French wines in a shocking blind tasting. I don't know enough details about the real people involved to comment on the accuracy, but I found the movie fun and enjoyable. Although it should be noted that the film focuses exclusively on the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay; you don't hear anything about the Stag's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon or other reds and whites in the competition.

(Fellow blogger Dr. Vino recently interviewed the writer, and provides some insight on the fact and fiction in this movie.)

The story of the scrappy American underdogs beating the foreign experts reminded me most of Miracle, the film about the 1980 US Olympic hockey team. Of course, drinking a French wine during Bottle Shock is pretty much like watching Miracle while dressed in red and singing L'Internationale.


fredric koeppel said...

"Church basement" is completely legitimate. Some wines just have an ecclesiastical character: old polished pews and altars, incense, the dust of centuries. V. nice description of this usually overlooked wine.

The Wine Commonsewer said...

I love the way an old church basement smells. That is a marvelous turn of the phrase. Dude, you knocked it out.

Benito said...


I'll keep that "ecclesiastical" note in mind for future tastings. Sums it up nicely, even if such descriptors invoke the (sometimes justified) ridicule of the masses. Perhaps one day I'll describe a wine as being "austere as a Norse Lutheran".


I've had a couple of other "churchy" wines... it's rare but always enjoyable. Reminds me of choir practice and pipe organs and whatnot.

Samantha Dugan said...

Great review Benito, when I finished reading it I said, "Wow, so that is what church smells like"....Bordeaux I know, church, not so much.

Sierra said...

I have a bottle of chateau Bonnet, appellation, bordeaux controlee,Andre lurton..1998 and was wondering if anyone has had this wine ...? I hav one bottle and looking for an option on it of any kind...tk...Sierra