Chateau La Garde 2016
Blend: 45% Merlot, 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Barrel Sample: 92-94
Barrel Sample: 88-90
The origins of the Chateau date back to the 18th century, when Domaine de “Lagarde” already featured on the “carte de Cassini”, the first general map of France drawn by the Cassini family in 1756. The picturesque Charterhouse, built in 1732, was at that time surrounded by valleys and woods. The “Bourdieu de Lagarde” was then passed down through the Blanchard family, until its purchase in 1877 by the Lacoste family, who were negociants in Bordeaux. Vines were thus cultivated on this magnificent stony terroir and the winery was built in 1881. After the First World War, Louis Eschenauer, a well-known negociant on the Place de Bordeaux at the “Chartrons”, was looking for good quality vines in the Bordeaux area. He became interested in the vineyards around the summit of Domaine de La Garde, which he subsequently bought in 1920, and in so doing became the leading proponent of the wines produced in the Martillac area, where he also owned Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte. Sometimes referred to as Domaine de La Garde, Clos de La Garde, then Chateau La Garde, even at this time a crest featured on the estate’s wine labels inspired by weapons thought to be from the region of Aquitaine during the 100 years’ war, displaying the leopard with a lion’s head.
Recognized for its superior reds as well as whites, Pessac-Léognan on the Left Bank claims classified growths for both—making it quite unique in comparison to its neighboring Médoc properties.
Pessac’s Chateau Haut-Brion, the only first growth located outside of the Médoc, is said to have been the first to conceptualize fine red wine in Bordeaux back in the late 1600s. The estate, along with its high-esteemed neighbors, La Mission Haut-Brion, Les Carmes Haut-Brion, Pique-Caillou and Chateau Pape-Clément are today all but enveloped by the city of Bordeaux. The rest of the vineyards of Pessac-Léognan are in clearings of heavily forested area or abutting dense suburbs.
Arid sand and gravel on top of clay and limestone make the area unique and conducive to growing Sémillon and Sauvignon blanc as well as the grapes in the usual Left Bank red recipe: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and miniscule percentages of Petit Verdot and Malbec.
The best reds will show great force and finesse with inky blue and black fruit, mushroom, forest, tobacco, iodine and a smooth and intriguing texture.
Its best whites show complexity, longevity and no lack of exotic twists on citrus, tropical and stone fruit with pronounced floral and spice characteristics.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.
In the Glass
Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux lean towards a highly structured and earthy style whereas New World areas (as in the ones named above) tend to produce bold and fruit-forward blends. Either way, Bordeaux red blends generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.
Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.