2005 is arguably Bordeaux’s best vintage in the last five decades, and some notable critics say the century. Rivaled only by 2009 and 2010, this vintage is said to have been a perfect year, creating wines with both strength and elegance that would evolve over decades.
We recently had the chance to try these wines with expat Frenchman and importer, Philippe Varda and his wife Sen, who together import a small number of French wines as a hobby. He’s known this winemaker for 15 years and experienced the evolution of this wine in particular. Philippe told us this wine just “opened up” 4 years ago and is now showing all its beauty and finesse. The wine at first is like walking into a cheese shop - with all the mature primal savory smells we mostly associate with pungent cheese or barnyard adventures. Then the wine changes in the glass. It morphs into this experience where you smell every Fall day pleasure at once. You’re walking in the crisp woods, then you smell a pie, then your grandmother hugs you (her sweater smells familiar), then a spice cabinet bursts open, and you find a lavender sachet in your linen closet. Smelling this wine is like experiencing a hundred things all at once, with your nose. Then the taste is extraordinary. If you’ve never had an aged wine, it’s something you must try. It’s the difference between steak seared on the grill and a 15 hour smoke or braise. The compounds break down so slowly, revealing a completely different texture and flavor underneath.
Aging wine breaks down the tough tannin structure, that harsh bitter astringent quality that a wine needs at first, like a shield. But once the layers of structure slowly break down (time acts like the cooking method here), what’s left is this smoldering tender glassful of flavors and soft textures.
The age on this wine begs for long cooking times and ingredients with a primal or gamey flavor. Great with anything that “falls apart” after cooking - think smoked or braised meats - or even crockpot vegetarian stews or cassoulet. If you’re a cheese fan, go nuts here. This is when you break out the pungent, gooey, sharp, raw milk or all of the above.
Domaine du Petit Gueyrot is a generations-old property and vineyard now stewarded by Christian Neycenssas (locally known as “Kiki”). He still farms, makes wine, and lives in a most traditional way. Known to set out on hunting trips in the woods on foot for days with his loyal dog, Kiki passionately upholds the tradition in everything. His wines reflect the rustic elegance of Saint Emilion, known as the oldest and most picturesque region in Bordeaux.