Old School Bordeaux, Ready to Drink Now
Ready-to-drink, Biodynamic, Old-school Bordeaux for a Song
Maison Blanche is one of our favorite biodynamic addresses in Bordeaux. It’s also one of our favorite old-school Bordeaux, in a way: at MB they pursue finesse over power and flash, a throwback to the days before flying winemakers and the 100-point rating scale.
But Maison Blanche isn't merely looking backwards. Indeed, the estate’s push for sustainable agriculture twenty years ago (and eventual conversion to biodynamic agriculture) places them with other regional pioneers like Jaugueyron, Puy-Arnaud, and Pontet Canet.
The wines are true products of terroir, as well as tradition. Their minerality and crunchy, red-fruited vivacity come from the clay and limestone soils of Montagne Saint-Emilion. They also have a lovely florality (violets, to me) and structural tension from the higher-than-usual percentage of Cabernet Franc (20-50%, depending on the vintage).
You can pick all this complexity up pretty well, even when the wines are young, since only a fraction of the barrels are new—the oak just doesn’t cover everything up, even when the wines are young.
But to really understand Bordeaux you need to taste mature bottles. Bordeaux wines, even from satellite appellations like Montagne Saint-Emilion, are made to age. The first few years will take some edges off and make the wine a little more open—give it a sense of internal space within which the complexity can really shine. Then, with more time, the fruit will evolve, the terroir will show more and the deeper, complex mature flavors (leather, cigar, cedar) will start to develop.
This is where Maison Blanche has done us an incredible service: they just released some back-vintage wines that give a spectacular overview of how Montagne Saint-Emillion ages. The oldest wine in this release, from the sunny, warm 2000 vintage, was remarkably spry, and even tasted fresh on day two. It was simply and obviously delicious: red plums and dark flowers, with a touch of umami and some stony detailing.
This is a wine just moving into that second category. It shows terroir and evolution but still the beautiful, primary fruit that makes the young wines such a joy to drink. You can age it further if you like, and the umami side will grow while the fresh fruit slowly recedes in the background. But it will be hard to keep your hands off the wine.
They also did us a great service by keeping prices reasonable. In fact, the pricing is pretty ridiculous for wines with so much bottle age and such perfect provenance.
Of course, quantities are limited, so don’t hesitate to click through and order some ready-to-drink Bordeaux today!
Maison Blanche, Montagne Saint-Emilion, 2000 $69.99
Surprisingly radiant and youthful for being nearly 20 years old and from a warmer vintage. This is good to go, but there's at least 3-5 more years of positive development.
Maison Blanche, Montagne Saint-Emilion, 2003 $66.99
Maison Blanche, Montagne Saint-Emilion, 2005 (375ml) $23.99
This is a no-brainer vintage.
Maison Blanche, Montagne Saint-Emilion, 2005 $49.99
Same no-brainer vintage, but in full-size bottles. Scoop up '05s whenever you can!
Maison Blanche, Montagne Saint-Emilion, 2006 $44.99
Maison Blanche, Montagne Saint-Emilion, 2007 $42.99
Maison Blanche, Montagne Saint-Emilion, 2008 $42.99
We just popped one of these in the shop and my first thought: "Hey, this is really nice." Many have been sleeping on '08s for a while, probably because the wines themselves were asleep, too. Now they're waking up!
This bottle really shows the character of the vintage: crunchy red fruit and tense, mineral-inflected, tannic structures. Think plums, cranberries, tar and chalk. Great with a burger now, but on the way up for another decade.
Maison Blanche, Montagne Saint-Emilion, 2009 $44.99
Maison Blanche, Montagne Saint-Emilion, 2016 $42.99
Maison Blanche, Montagne Saint-Emilion "Le Colombier de la Metairie", 2007 $32.99
All this to say, the wines are a lovely testament to both the limestone and clay soils of Montagne Saint-Emilion and the enduring reputation of Bordeaux as the world's greatest vine-de-garde region.
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