On our recent wine trip to Bordeaux, we’d scheduled Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion for our final winery visit. After many good recommendations, I was really looking forward to it—but when the day rolled around, we had to cancel due to an illness of one of our group members.
To overcome our disappointment, I thought I’d arrange our own private tasting back home. I began to search for the wine. I couldn’t find it anywhere locally, so began a national search. Eventually I located three bottles of 2013 Chateau Les Carmes in Buffalo. I bought all three and began planning.
Where to go? I chose one of my favorites in WNY—Tempo—where the food, service and commitment to wine are hard to beat. In addition to is outstanding wine list with more than 250 interesting choices, you can also order many premium wines by the glass, including Haut-Bailly, Caymus, Chateau de Beaucastel and Opus One (a rarity to have this type of by-the-glass selection).
So the six of us from the Bordeaux trip reunited to taste the wine. I knew that we would be drinking more than the legal limit, so I arranged to have our favorite driver, Billy, come pick up our group at my house, where we began the evening with two wines: a Sauvignon Blanc and a 2010 Corliss Cabernet.
The Corliss was hedonistic for sure. I could drink this wine every day.
At Tempo, we started with a few appetizers to complement the wine, including calamari that I’d venture is the best in town; outstanding Bolognese; and light and fluffy gnocchi. All three bottles of the 2013 Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion were carefully and properly decanted.
We took our first sip of the unknown, and everyone loved it. It continued to drink better as the evening went on. This is a beautiful Bordeaux with plenty of dark fruit and an elegance that you expect in a good Bordeaux. The finish was very pleasing. This wine still has at least another 10-15 years of good drinking ahead. While it wasn’t quite as satisfying as a visit to the winery, it came in a very close second, and I will keep my eyes open for other vintages of this wine.
A couple other interesting things happened that evening. The person I bought the Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion from had included an extra bottle for me to try: A 2005 Larrivet Haut-Brion, which we decanted and thoroughly enjoyed as well. This wine is mature and silky smooth, with plenty of dark fruit. When I noticed a friend at the bar, I poured him a glass and brought it over. One of the gentleman in his group then responded by coming to our table with a bottle of Chateau Belle-Vue La Renaissance 2009 to try, a Lebanese wine. This was a first for me.
We took it home and my wife and I opened it another night, without expectations. It was beautiful in the glass, with an amazing nose and an elegant, wonderful finish. This wine is definitely on my shopping list now, and at under $40, it’s a great value.
Warren T. Colville is publisher and president of The Buffalo News.