As any good sci-fi geek knows, 42 is Deep Thought’s Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, and so it’s fitting that the theme of this 42nd edition of Make Mine a Double is Bordeaux, probably the most important wine region in the world (and definitely the most self-important). Bordeaux was the first wine region I got to know reasonably well and remains the reference for many other country’s red wines.
These two wines are both from the Merlot-dominated right bank, where Cabernet Sauvignon is nearly always a minor player – if it plays a part at all – and Cabernet Franc can play a great supporting role. Saint Emilion is the star appellation on the right bank, with Pomerol less famous but home to the legendary Château Petrus. Fronsac is less well known still, but often offers great value. These two wines are both from the very good but not amazing 2014 vintage – Red Bordeaux 2014s are rated 8/10 by Berry Brothers & Rudd and 7/10 by The Wine Society.
Disclosure: both bottles were kindly provided as samples, but opinions remain my own
Château Clos du Roy Fronsac 2014 (14.0%, €29.95 down to €22.95 at O’Briens)
The name of this producer translates literally as the Castle of the King’s Walled Garden. Horticulture aside for a moment, this is a blend of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc.
The nose is tremendous, with dark fruit (plums, blackcurrants, blackberries), chocolate and spices. The fruit is very ripe on the palate – this is a powerful wine. Fine grained tannins give a satisfying dry edge to the finish. Although still quite young this is drinking magnificently now. At the reduced price it would be worth buying a few and seeing how it evolves over the next decade.
Château Franc-Maillet Pomerol 2014 (13.5%, €42.95 down to €34.35 at O’Briens)
You might just be able to make out “Depuis 1919” on the bottle shot above, as it was started by a soldier returning from the First World War. It has been in the same family since, who now make wines in Pomerol (plus satellite AOC Lalande de Pomerol), and Saint-Emilion (plus one of the four satellite AOCs, Montagne-Saint-Emilion.) The blend is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.
The nose is spicy and smoky with red and black fruits. On the palate there is a whole variety of red (red cherry, raspberry, cranberry) and black (plum, black cherry and blackberry) fruits. There are also some subtle vanilla notes from maturation in barrique and ripe tannins.
In my opinion these are two excellent wines that do a great job of representing their appellations and right bank Bordeaux in general. There’s little to chose between them in quality; it’s more a question of a slight difference in style between the power and spice of the Fronsac and the elegance, cherry and vanilla of the Pomerol. Both for me please!