I got hold of this wine through some well-intentioned speculation. Understandably nervous about receiving her New York bar results, I offered a colleague the opportunity to hedge her results with wine: If she passed she would have to buy me a bottle of right bank Bordeaux, if she failed I would have to buy one, thereby offsetting the horror of having to resit the bar exam.
She passed – resulting in my coming into possession of a bottle of 2012 Chateau de Valois from the Pomerol area. Pomerol, sitting just west of the more famous St-Emilion region, is young by Bordeaux standards – with even some of the top vineyards being recent creations. And the wine is drunk young as well for, unlike in other Bordeaux areas, Cabernet Sauvignon does not feature here, merlot is king. Less tanic than Cabernet-based neighbours, the wines of Pomerol reach maturity younger (although see below).
The Chateau de Valois itself seems a discreet sort of place. I’ve struggled to find much info on it. So we will have to judge it on its wine, which is hardly a ludicrous idea.
Robe: Very dark red, verging on purple.
Nez: Not very potent, musty odour, reminiscent of an old closest opened for the first time in a long time. Would frighten people with allergies
Bouche: There’s a lot going on here. And as soon as I sipped it I knew I had messed up. This wine was dramatically too young. Tightly bound and tannic, the youth made the other flavours hard to access. Were the tannic blanket to be peeled back, I do not doubt for a second that something remarkably may lie below. But whatever that may be it was still largely hidden. From what was exposed, the wine gave off some dark fruit notes and hinted at the elegance it could one day have had.
This came as something of a surprise – as a merlot heavy wine, with only traces of Cabernet Franc, it was unexpected for it to be so tannic and so tightly bound.