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chateau fontenilThis is a $30 wine from a Chateau with a solid if unspectacular reputation, from an uncelebrated region compared to its more famous neighbors in St. Emilion, and from an inferior vintage. So why is this wine so damn good 22 years after vintage date? This is quite revealing about Bordeaux wines at least as they were made many years ago. Even the cheaper bottlings were built to age and some of those rugged wines that seem to be little but dirt and acid when young become elegant charmers when mature—like some people I’ve known.

This wine shows still vibrant cherry, loads of leather, and pleasant, damp-forest-wood aromas, with a bouquet of dried roses. There is not a bit of mustiness on the nose.

The palate is backward.  Graphite with some hard acidity  up front is replaced by flirtatious,  fresh berry that blossoms  at midpalate. The fruit dries out on the still robust finish but mouthwatering acidity, and drying yet softly textured tannins provide good length and sustained satisfaction.

I suspect this was a hard wine when young. You can still taste vestiges of that stubbornness but the wine now moves with vibrant ease through its stages showing modest beauty, exuding an amiable warmth, comfortable in its skin but possessing depths.

Etta James’ A Sunday Kind of Love has the warmth, simple charm, and mature fortitude of this wine.

Technical Notes: 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 15-18 months in new and used French oak. Fronsac is located close to the northern bank of the Dordogne river, just a few miles to the west of Libourne , with soils consisting of more sandstone and limestone than clay.

Bottle Opened: 3/2/19

Score: 90

Price: $30

Alc: 13%