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The 2009 Petit Castel is quite an interesting “second” wine at this point. It offers an awful lot. Most wineries would be happy to have it as a first wine. Of course, it should be good –it isn’t exactly cheap, either. While it always shows better than the Grand Vin young, on first taste this year, I thought this might be the year when it would literally match or surpass the Grand Vin. It is a Bordeaux grape blend of Merlot (54%), Cabernet Sauvignon (32%), Cabernet Franc (8%), Malbec (4%) and Petit Verdot (2%). It seemed surprisingly lush (the dominant Merlot component?) and relatively deep this year, granting that it is young and may thin and that the early impression of concentration may exceed the ultimate reality as it ages. The plush demeanor makes it seem very full bodied, very differently styled than the more focused and powerful ’08, still beautifully constructed, with well integrated tannins, seductive texture and that impression of richness. It also has earthy and complex flavors, which devolves into a bit of funk on the wine. Although that nuance did moderate a bit with 90 minutes of air, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But for that, I might well have preferred it to the Grand Vin. Despite the impression of depth, I don’t think that this overall shows as well as its predecessor, the 2008, but this relatively rich, earthy and seductive Petit Castel still offers a lot in its own style.
There's fine power and focus to the dried berry and crisp currant flavors, with lots of minerality and plenty of savory herbal notes as well. The muscular finish features hints of smoke and spice. Sauve. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Kosher.
After being born in cosmopolitan Alexandria and educated in England, Italy and Switzerland, Eli Ben Zaken moved to Israel, first working in agriculture and then later in the restaurant business. Eli has no formal winemaking education, and so when he had to decide whether or not to turn Domaine du Castel from a hobby into a formal business he was faced with a formidable challenge. Eli recalls how a sentiment voiced by Winston Churchill was very apt at this time as he felt as though he "were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial … I was sure I should not fail."
An extensive appellation producing a diverse selection of good-quality, value-priced wines...
An extensive appellation producing a diverse selection of good-quality, value-priced wines, Languedoc-Roussillon is the world’s largest wine-producing region, spanning the Mediterranean coast from the Spanish border to Provence. Languedoc forms the eastern half of the larger appellation, while Roussillon is in the west; the two actually have quite distinct personalities but are typically grouped together. Languedoc’s terrain is generally flat coastal plains, with a warm Mediterranean climate and a frequent risk of drought. Roussillon, on the other hand, is defined by the rugged Pyrenees mountains and near-constant sunshine.
Virtually every style of wine is made in this expansive region. Dry wines are often blends, and varietal choice is strongly influenced by the neighboring Rhône valley. For reds and rosés, the primary grapes include Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre. White varieties include Grenache Blanc, Muscat, Ugni Blanc, Vermentino, Maccabéo, Clairette, Picpoul, and Bourbelenc. International varieties are also planted in large numbers here, in particular Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. In Roussillon, excellent sweet wines are made from Muscat and Grenache in Rivesaltes, Banyuls, and Maury. The key region for sparkling wines here is Limoux, where Blanquette de Limoux is believed to have been the first sparkling wine made in France, even before Champagne. Crémant de Limoux is produced in a more modern style.