France: Bordeaux: Pomerol and Saint-Emilion
What are Pomerol & St. Emilion?
Pomerol and St. Emilion are the two premier Bordeaux appellations on the other (right) side of the rivers from the city of Bordeaux and the glamour appellations of the Médoc, hence the term, "right bank." The wines are quite different from those in the Médoc, as the weather and soil vary significantly, and the primary grapes used in the region are the softer Merlot and Cabernet Franc varieties, as opposed to the firm and tannic Cabernet Sauvignon of the Médoc. This makes for wines which are often much more attractive in youthperhaps the reason why modern consumers have made the premier wines from these appellations some of the most coveted and sought after in the entirety of Bordeaux. This does not mean these wines dont have the ability to agequite the contrary. Pomerol, being the only Bordeaux appellation to generally have a majority of Merlot is typically soft and lush, with a tremendous intensity of fruit concentration. The region itself and most of the estates therein are tiny, and hence the wines are in limited quantity and tend to be quite expensive. St. Emilion on the other hand is a much larger appellation with a significant percentage of Cabernet Franc helping to comprise the blend. This too makes for softer, though still well structured wines, with distinctive, cedary, herbaceous, mineral-accented flavors. Increased production quantities make them easier to find, and a number of bargains are to be had for the savvy consumer.
As a final note, vintage assessments in Bordeaux tend to be weighted to the Médoc as opposed to the right bank. A given vintage will be declared excellent or poor with the supposition that this is universally truenot always. Recent vintages are a case in point. While 1996 saw excellent wines produced in the Médoc, it was not nearly as successful on the right bank. Conversely while the 19971999 vintages have been generally difficult in the Médoc, there have been some great successes on the right bank. Still, prices are falling. Thus, while certain vintages get overlooked due to a bias against wines from the Médoc, the right bank versions may have been unjustly lumped into the same pot. By shopping with this in mind, it is more than possible to uncover a few hidden gems.
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