2006 J. Calvet Reserve Des Remparts Saint-Emilion
The Saint-Emilion (SE) region is the oldest winemaking area in France. Yet, it didn’t receive Bordeaux Wine Official Classification until 1955. Unlike the other classified regions, the SE wine makers are reclassified every ten years. The most recent classification, in 2006, became embroiled in a battle that ended up in the French courts … which shows you how important these assignments can be to the winemaker. They also tend to hold a lot of weight with wine drinkers, allowing the Grand Cru Classe vintners to charge premium prices for their wares.
But, the “lower classes” from the same region often offer very good wines at much friendlier prices. Such is the case with the J. Calvet Reserve Des Remparts Saint-Emilion vintages. A robust, deeply colored wine that shows off it’s fruity origins while retaining the dryness expected of a Red Bordeaux wine. When it has opened up properly, the full bouquet compliments the rich flavor and smooth texture very well.
I originally sampled the J. Calvet SE three years ago when I picked up a 2004 version for the bargain basement price of $6 from, who else, Trader Joe’s. TJ’s often has some very good French wines at prices that compare very well with their domestic counterparts. I remember the days when the California wineries could barely give their growths away while the imported French wines all commanded huge premiums. Those days are long gone with the best US labels charging numbers that can truly astound the mind and depreciate the finances. It’s all a supply/demand issue. But, it also allows for some incredible deals to be had on some amazing imports.
That first bottle had me returning to TJ’s to secure several more. I kept waiting anxiously for the 2005 vintage to arrive, but it never did (not surprising since it is considered a very good year for the SEs). Instead, they kept giving us the 2004’s until the middle of last year when they made the jump to the 2006. The vintage year wasn’t the only thing that jumped … the price went up 50% to $9! Unfortunately, the quality of the wine didn’t improve by the same measure. In fact, it lost a little bit of it’s edge and fullness. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a very drinkable and enjoyable wine. It’s just not the excellent vintage bottle and bargain that it was just months ago.
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