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Chateau Beau-Sejour Becot 2005
The bottled 2005 Beau Sejour Becot confirms that this is the finest effort from this estate in the thirty years I have been covering Bordeaux. A classic blend of 70% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, it is an intense, full-bodied St.-Emilion revealing notes of espresso roast, chocolate, blackberries, licorice, and truffles. With sweet but noticeable tannins, good acidity, and a powerful, long finish, this textbook St.-Emilion cuts a swath between the modern school of winemaking and the traditionalists. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2030+.
Something of a poster child for the very ripe 2005 St. Emilions, Beau-Sejour-Becot is an opulent, very ripe wine with a sense of richness seen from provenance in very few years. Its extracted, black cherry themes are underlain by a bit of stony "terroir", and, if both tannic and a touch hot at the end, it never loses its grasp on deep fruit.
Offers aromas of blackberry, coffee and tar, with a full body, silky tannins and a blackberry, mineral and light vanilla aftertaste. Balanced, refined and pretty.
Saturated and rich, this wine is black in color and all mocha in aroma. The bold strawberry flavors are larger than life, the tannins integrated. It's all about power, with no way to tell what's underneath. Cellar it, and you'll either get a delicious, rich red, or something more distinctive as the power and the oak begin to fade.
The estate was named Beau-Séjour in 1787 by General Jacques de Carle, the proprietor at the time. Michel Bécot bought the estate from Doctor Jean Fagouet in 1969 and further increased the area under vine from 10.5 hectares to 15 by acquiring 4.5 hectares on the Trois Moulins plateau in 1979. The château then took on the name of Beau-Séjour Bécot. The vines are planted on perfectly homogenous soil ideal for producing fine wine. Michel Bécot retired in 1985. His two sons, Gérard and Dominique, now manage the estate.
Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for nearly every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa, the region only produces about half the amount of wine, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in both quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.
Grape varieties are carefully selected to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River and Sonoma Valleys, Carneros, and Fort Ross-Seaview. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Syrah have also found a firm footing here.
One of the most difficult yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is commonly referred to by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape.” However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. More reflective than most varieties of the land on which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality, and demands care in the vineyard and lots of attention in the winery. It is an important component of Champagne and the only variety permitted in red Burgundy. Pinot Noir enjoys immense popularity internationally, most notably in Oregon, California, and New Zealand.
In the Glass
Pinot Noir Is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and lively acidity. It ranges in body from very light to the heavier side of medium, typically landing somewhere in the middle—giving it extensive possibilities for food pairing. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount), it can develop hauntingly beautiful characteristics of fresh earth, autumn leaves, and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon, ocean trout, and tuna. Its mild mannered tannins don’t fight with spicy food, and give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry—chicken, quail, and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, it can even match with heavier fare. Pinot Noir is also very vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
Pinot Noir is dangerously drinkable, highly addictive, and has a bad habit of emptying the wallet. Look for affordable but still delicious examples from Germany (as Spätburgunder), Italy (as Pinot Nero), Chile, New Zealand, and France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions.