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Earlier this month, I was asked to taste a bottle of Médoc from a producer that I'd never heard of, from a hard year, and with a label design that was a bit too "Kirkland Signature" for my comfort. It goes without saying, I didn't have the highest of expectations. But, I'm here to admit that my instincts were wrong. The wine turned out to be seriously delicious (I've personally made a small dent in our inventory), and the story of the estate behind the banal label turned out to be fascinating. It's my pleasure to share the bottle with you today. Not a ton available, so grab what you can.
When I opened the 2011 Médoc from Château Sègue-Longue Monnier, the wine was a dark shade of red, black at the core, with an auburn color on the edges. From the moment of opening, the wine displayed great fruit on the nose, with wild plum and cherry - along with fragrant aromas of dried tobacco leaves, iron, and cocoa. With air and time (an hour or so), a heady profile developed, bringing rich violets, roses, stems and herbs - an enchanting group of scents. Initially, the wine was tight on the palate, but the structure was well-set, and I could predict that the mouthfeel would eventually fall into balance. It did, gaining a slight tannic chew, a plummy middle, and a vein of refreshing, medium-toned acidity. Flavors grew from black cherry and mint to hearty cassis, dates, eucalyptus, and warm cedar. Lip-smacking texture and flavor. Nothing cloying here.
Jean-Pierre Monnier's Château Sègue-Longue Monnier sits at the tip-top of the Médoc, in the commune of Jau-Dignac-et-Loirac, on the left bank of the Gironde. In fact, this area was an island in the Girdonde estuary, close to the river's outlet into the Atlantic, until the mid-17th century. Vines were planted on the estate's current slope with exposure to the south-east in 1979 by Jean-Pierre's father. The site's soil is rich with gravel, which is typical of vineyards in the Médoc. Though the operation remains a small, family business (Jean-Pierre's wife and son are also involved), it wasn't until Jean-Pierre started experiencing health problems in 2008 that he shifted his land towards organic production. He determined his health issues were the result of bad farming practices - a revelation many winemakers, before and after him, have had. This bottle of 2011 is the winery's first to be certified organic, and I have no doubt that Jean-Pierre's successful conversion is why the estate could deliver a fantastic wine despite the vintage being one of Bordeaux's most difficult of the last decade.
I would drink this bottle over the next three years, but I think it might be at its prime right now - and it is definitely the season for this kind of blend: 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc. It paired wonderfully with a roast chicken, stuffed with thyme, and rubbed with salt and pepper. However, I'm going to save a handful of my stock for inevitable summer barbeques, with juicy burgers and steaks off the grill in mind.
This goes to show you, never rule out a bottle until you've tasted it. And if it's something you enjoy, don't stop there - look into the producer, find out their history and their practices. Then recommend the bottle to your friends (or customers) because, as we all know, good, interesting wines are meant to be shared. David Hatzopoulos
This has been one of my favorite wines so far in 2021. The Sègue-Longue Monnier estate is perched at the top of the Medoc, on land that used to be an island in the Gironde. The soil is heavy with gravel, just like most vineyards in the region, along with clay and limestone. Jean-Pierre Monnier began conversion to organic methods in 2008, and this 2011 bottling is the first to be certified. It is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc. The wine ferments naturally and sees 18 months in oak barrels. What a nose - with iron, tobacco, dried roses, savory plums and cherries. There is espresso and cocoa aromas, as well. The palate has a lovely tannic structure and great acidity. Beach plum, cedar, mint, and gravel flavors play on the tongue. After two hours open, the wine sings. This is the bottle that you should have for dinner... tonight. It'll develop over the next 3 years, but it is beautiful now. An awesome price for such a developed and full wine. David Hatzopoulos