I suppose every once in a while, probably a long while, one needs a wine that will haul back and bust you a good one in the chops. This is probably more true with whisky, but I suppose it’s nice, for a chance of pace perhaps, for a wine to also do that. That is exactly what you can get here if you happen to partake of this before it’s aired sufficiently. This is a big bad Bordeaux, one of the styles that the French region from which it comes is famous for and it’s a good representative, perhaps one of the more well-known ones, in fact…just don’t jump in too early.
Once it has smoothed out (probably a good 45 minutes+, unless you use an aeration device), you can start to pick up on some intensive flavors without that sort of heavy, clunky feeling. This is due to a preponderance of Merlot in there, which is probably a good 75% or so of the blend. Merlot can also contribute heavily to astringency, which is what you will get initially. Once it does, you get a light, crisp and rather refreshing blend, which doesn’t have the tastiness of some of those other heavier varietals, but allows a lot more room for subtleties in fruitiness and with this particular one, smokiness.
I should probably also mentioned the “Supérieur” part of things. Adding qualifiers onto brandies and cognacs is a very French thing, so no real surprise it also extends to that element for which they are most famous: wines. Here, that terms has some mandates by law. The important ones for us are aging, in which it has to be aged at least 12 months and in the grapes themselves, which must undergo a denser growth. This tends to create competition for rooting but much heartier vines when they do and of course, any French winemaker – and perhaps any other as well – will tell you that this struggle makes it into the wine. It also tends to produce a much lower (and presumably higher quality) crop.
So, this one can serve a dual purpose, being both an excellent introduction into one of the more famed wines of France as well as illustrating very clearly what happens if you do dive into the pool early or, to paraphrase Orson Welles, if you drink it before its time.
As I find this one a touch finicky and don’t have it often enough to remember the fine tuning, it’s not a Standard. I’ve never seen it on SPA, so not that, either, which leaves Mixed.