12 Days of Vinebox: Day 10

3 01 2019

By Raymond Lamontagne

My final vial of this inaugural Canadian Vinebox run hails from a producer with which I am familiar, at least in an academic sense: Chateau Gillet. The Nadau family has made Bordeaux wines for around 150 years. The Gillet vineyards fall smack dab on the limestone plateau that comprises the heart of Entre-Deux-Mers. Although Gillet makes red, rose, and white wines, the Entre-Deux-Mers region is best known for white Bordeaux. The area is vast, sandwiched between the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers (hence the name), and you will only see “Entre-Deux-Mers AOC” on white wines, with reds from this region labelled with the generic “Bordeaux AOC”. Confusingly, though, many producers of whites from the area now eschew the more specific regional appellation in favour of “Bordeaux Blanc AOC” or even just “Bordeaux AOC”, as is the case for the present vial. Ugh. According to Stephen Brook in his omnibus The Complete Bordeaux, there is little point in trying to navigate this morass of tedious bureaucracy and confusing regional laws. At least for today, I am inclined to agree. Suffice to say, Entre-Deux-Mers is too large and too flat to yield consistently great wines, although here and there are pockets of limestone that can elevate the grapes that comprise the typical white Bordeaux blend.

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Chateau Gillet’s white consists of 60% Semillon and 40% Sauvignon Blanc from 25 year-old vines. This is rather “old school” at a time when more and more white Bordeaux is dominated by Sauvignon Blanc, presumably in an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of this grassy, tart varietal in the New World. Traditionally Semillon provides the body and some texture. Personally I am fond of this grape’s rather unique aromas, which can be reminiscent of fresh linens and other textiles, candle wax, and so-called “wet wool”. Although the best white Bordeaux typically sees oak, many entry-level bottlings from less prestigious appellations are made in a fresher style. Such is the case here, fermented and aged in stainless steel. It would seem that Vinebox and oak do not mix, eh? Have we had even one oaked wine in this thing?! Maybe Day 2. I wonder how strategic this state of affairs might be.

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I do get many of the usual suspects on this wine: grass, maybe something slightly akin to dried grass (hay, I suppose), snap peas, gooseberry, bell peppers, chamomile, wet stone, lemon and lime rind/pith, a little yellow grapefruit. If anything registers as a surprise, it is that the wine makes a sweeter than expected impression, not due to legitimate residual sweetness obviously but perhaps the ripeness of the grapes. Lemonade from sunny Bordeaux. Some steel wool mid-palate and into the finish, one of my favourite Semillon notes (I get it more prominently on Australian takes, though). The wine is in good balance, with an appropriately strident acid backbone, bright citrus fruits, reasonably good aromatics, and no prominent bum notes. The wine is emblematic of this producer’s tendency to deliver good value for one’s money.

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Chateau on a vial!

It has been a slice doing all this blogging over the holiday season. Heartfelt thank yous are warranted to Vinebox for coming into our eager market, and to the guys at Richmond Hill Wines as well. I sincerely appreciate all of our readers on this blog. It is fun hearing out of the blue, from a total stranger on a wine app, that they like reading our work on here (strangers no longer). I am a lucky man, as someone able to share my thoughts on wine via such an amazing forum but without having to pretend that I could somehow make a living off of this. See you again. But not this week or next — Peter will take the Vinebox foray home from here.

88+ points


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