I realized earlier this year that I was in a New World wine rut. I had been drinking Cabernets, Pinot Noirs, Syrahs and Merlots almost exclusively from the U.S. (mostly Napa and Sonoma) and Australia, with the occasional Tempranillo from Spain. I have now resolved to drink my way across the Old World, beginning with Bordeaux and Tuscany.
The first stop on my current wine journey through Bordeaux is a 2003 red wine from Château Tour Léognan. The château is located in Pessac-Léognan, a sub-region of the larger Graves winemaking district just south of the city of Bordeaux. The name 'Graves' derives from the intensely gravelly soil of the region, which imparts a distinctive flavor to its wines.
Unlike most Bordeaux reds, which are made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, the Château Tour Léognan uses only Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The wine had a deep ruby color and was wonderfully soft on the palate. It had aromas of red fruit and cinnamon.
Although some aspects of the flavor of the Château Tour Léognan reminded me of a California Cab, there were other aspects of its flavor I was not prepared for and am not familiar with. So, although my original plan was to buy a single bottle from a variety of châteaux in Bordeaux, I'm going to buy more Château Tour Léognan in order to get a better handle on its character. I highly recommend this very affordable ($18) and tasty French wine.
Wine exports from Bordeaux have plummeted in recent years, due to competition from New World wines. You can read about some of the drastic steps some French officials are taking to address the problem here and here.