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Top Stories

Top Stories

Enduring, Endearing Wines From 'Dragon Boat Chateau'



"Every year, we put 240 bottles in screw cap. Technically, I have nothing against it but, at the same time, I won't impose it on my customers," Philippe BLANC.






Story & Photos By Ch'ng Poh Tiong

'Dragon Boat Chateau' or Chateau Beychevelle is one of the most endearing and enduring wines of Bordeaux. The former is the Chinese name of the Saint-Julien Fourth Growth, helmed by winemaker and General Manager Philippe BLANC since the 1995 vintage.

A winemaker in the classical mould, BLANC is not interested in producing tough, oaky, extracted black wines to pick up high scores from those wine journalists who imagine that these god-have-mercy-on-us wines are made-in-heaven.

On the contrary, BLANC aims for balance, harmony and elegance in his wines even as he strives for intensity, complexity, length, and ageability.

A trained agronomist or soil engineer and oenologist, prior to joining Chateau Beychevelle, BLANC had worked stints in two of Australia's best regarded wineries, Taltarni and Clover Hill, from 1989 to 1993. In his spare time, he likes to ski and play tennis. At one time, BLANC also ran the marathon (in about 2 hours and 45 minutes). In 2004, he was Guest Overseas Judge for the Sixth Lianhe Zaobao Wine Review Challenge in Singapore.

NOT AGAINST SCREW CAP

"Every year we put 240 bottles in screw cap. Technically, I have nothing against it but, at the same time, I won't impose it on my customers. In the London market and on airlines that serve our wine, for example, they have told us very clearly they do not want Chateau Beychevelle on screw cap," Philippe BLANC told participants at a tasting on 25 October 2010 at the Sheraton Singapore.

"In Amiral de Beychevelle, there is a bit of American oak, but for Chateau Beychevelle, it's all French oak. We work with 130 negociants in Bordeaux and every year, we sell 95% of our production of about 250,000 bottles of Chateau Beychevelle and 165,000 bottles of Amiral de Beychevelle, the second wine."


TASTING NOTES

AMIRAL DE BEYCHEVELLE 2007
Rating:

Floral-ish and lightly smoky on the nose. Elegant tannins and round freshness. Very balanced. A light vintage. Aged for 12 months in oak, 25% of which was new. This second wine was created in 1974. 52% Merlot; 44% Cabernet Sauvignon; and, 4% Petit Verdot.

CHATEAU BEYCHEVELLE 2006
Rating:
Smoky, cedary, blue fruits. With richness and intensity. Firm, fresh tannins. Structure in front at the moment. Very balanced. 59% Cabernet Sauvignon; 29% Merlot; 7% Cabernet Franc; and, 5% Petit Verdot.

CHATEAU BEYCHEVELLE 2000
Rating:

Smoky, spiced, whiff of sandalwood and hint of leather. Quite ripe but also fresh. 49% Cabernet Sauvignon; 38% Merlot; 7% Cabernet Franc; and, 6% Petit Verdot.

CHATEAU BEYCHEVELLE 1996
Rating:
Mocha and whiff of sandalwood. Richness and elegance. Soft, ripe tannins. Round freshness. Length. 52% Cabernet Sauvignon; 35% Merlot; 7% Cabernet Franc; and, 6% Petit Verdot.

CHATEAU BEYCHEVELLE 1989
Rating:
Mocha, mint, spice and leather. Heat also detected on the nose. A touch austere on the finish. More masculine than all the other wines. Philippe BLANC informed that no records were kept at the chateau as to the proportions of the various varieties in the blend.

CHATEAU BEYCHEVELLE 1986
Rating:
Mint, sandalwood, dried roses, leather and the aromas of autumn. Fresh and very elegant. Great finesse. Philippe BLANC informed that the wine was decanted an hour before the tasting and that, as with 1989, no records were kept at the chateau as to the proportions of the various varieties in the blend.



CHINESE BORDEAUX GUIDE, CHINESE CUISINE & WINE & THE WINE REVIEW RATING SYSTEM
Outstanding
       Excellent
             Good
                    Average
                          Acceptable
                         Half Star








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