Thursday, May 3, 2012

Greetings from Bordeaux! I am working through the region meeting with many of my suppliers, tasting the 2010 and 2011 vintages. My plan is to keep you abreast of my activities so you can get an idea of just what an importer does (one that works directly with the producers that is) when visiting suppliers, as well as to provide a window into each supplier that I visit and work with year after year. Why do I stay with the same producers year in and year out?  You see, I don't select wines, I select producers, folks who know that the real work is in the vineyard and make great wines in good years (read: easy, where the wines essentially make themselves) and difficult vintages where a more severe grape selection is necessary and more effort is needed to care for the vines, so the resulting wine not only tastes good, but is balanced and well-made.  This is their story.

I am starting off today with Chateau Mangot, my supplier of fine red Bordeaux wine from St. Emilion, probably the best known appellations in Bordeaux, surrounding the ancient city of St. Emilion, with its monolithic church carved right out of the rock in the 13th century, and now a UNESCO historical landmark.

Here Yann Todeschini stops for a quick photo in the welcome corner of their winery. In this room is stocked the wines that are kept for future orders and orders ready to go.  As the grapes are harvested in the fall, their stems are removed, and the grapes are pumped into vats made from stainless steel, temperature regulated, to conduct and monitor the fermentation so everything goes just right, not too hot or cold.

This room is called the "Cuverie" as it contains the vats known as "Cuves" in French. Following the fermentation, the wine is transferred to barrels in a large room dedicated to barrel aging.

Here sleeps the 2011 vintage of Chateau Mangot in barrels from multiple cooperages to offer balance and complexity to the aging wine.  Following barrel aging, the wine is transferred to concrete vats to rest and for fining, where egg whites are used to clarify the wine. The different cepages (varietals), vinified separately, are stored and clarified here before the final assemblage (blending) to produce the complete wine.
We often taste from these concrete vats to see what each cepage (varietal) will bring to the final assemblage. The wines are then blended and the final assemblage is transferred back to the stainless steel cuves to wait for bottling within a few months.
Here Yann and I are tasting their wine that will be bottled (2010 vintage) in a few days. We also compare vintages, and here in the photo below, we are tasting through the 2009, 2010, and barrel samples of the 2011 vintages:

The vintage of the Chateau Mangot St. Emilion Grand Cru currently available in the Chicago Market is the 2008. Their premium cuvée (meaning simply, blend) the Cuvée Quintessence, is available in the 2009 vintage.

I hope you enjoy these wines as much as I do and it is a pleasure to bring them to market.

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