Over the past three years I have amassed a sort of nice collection of wines. To my own amazement, I don’t really know the exact amount but it falls between the 750-800. A few weeks ago, I finally realized the meaning of my collection as I was going through my wine bottles.
Why meaning?. At the present day, I like to reflect on the things I buy being wine or something else. However, it was not like this a few years ago, when I used to buy a lot of things compulsively including wine. The reasons for my compulsive behaviour remain private and prefer not to share them in this post. Lets say that 60% of my collection is composed of bottles that I really like and the remainder does not make sense to me. Generally speaking, I am not a person that regrets past actions but I feel today disappointed about my erratic wine purchasing behaviour. I would like to call this a misguided use of passion
What’s the point of me telling you this?. Perhaps you are in a frenzy wine shopping behaviour and you don’t recognize it. Around me, there are some people who appear to be in this state and they could be in denial. I wish that somebody could have told me about this some time back and prevent the damages. Building a wine collection is a beautiful project that could bring you many years of satisfaction but you got do it right since the start. If not you risk turning it into a sickness.
Here is my advice:
Buy what you really like: I have been drinking wine for the last 25 years and it took a decade to have the big picture of what regions, styles and grapes I truly like. I started my wine journey exploring the classical wine regions of Italy, France and Spain. Bordeaux, Tuscany, Piedmont, Rhone are for me. Burgundy and the Loire I like less. Your collection should reflect your unique taste. It is easier say than done?. Before investing significant financial resources, ask yourself, do I really like that wine?. Instropection can be a very uncomfortable, but if you can get past that, you will reap the rewards.
If you don’t have the cash dont buy it: Now that you have determined what you like, the other question to ask yourself is: do I have the money to buy it?. There is always a new wine to try, or a new vintage. I maxed out credit cards, lines of credits and a bit of my savings. If you cant pay off your wine purchases by the end of the month and have leftover money, you are in trouble.
Beware of social media. Facebook and Instagram are wonderful tools to transmit wine information. Sadly, it has been misused by fake communicators. One of the problems of these “influencers” is that they promote wine for the importers without disclosing it. There are many varieties of these people. Lets just say that they put a toxic charming spell and influence you to buy wine that you might not really like. My advice is that you should research these people before and what to they promote.
Be skeptic of the new “experts”. Anybody these days can proclaim themselves a self expert on the subject of wine. I have seen the rise of new bloggers with very little tasting experience. Sure, they might be packed with all kind of wine credentials. The malaise that I have with these people is that they think they know everything by quickly grasping the subject. Do you prefer the wine buying advice from veteran wine expert or the newbie wine beginner?. I will let you answer. Follow the advice of very passionate people
These is my three bit wine advice and now for a profile of a wonderful Bordeaux estate that will make a nice addition for your cellar. Early this summer, I had a chance to meet Fanny Van De Velde from Edmond de Rothschild. I tasted a mini vertical of Chateau Clarke( 2003-2015) which was a nice opportunity to get reacquinted with the estate. The invitation was a courtesy of its Canadian importer, Philippe Dandurand
The wines of Chateau Clarke were one of the first Bordeaux that I tasted. This is classical Bordeaux left bank, although the wine have become more approachable with the latest vintages. My favorite vintages of the tasting were 2006 and 2014
Belonging to Baron Edmond de Rothschild and currently his son Benjamin Rothschild, Chateau Clarke is a jewel estate in the middle of the Listrac-Medoc region of the left bank of Bordeaux. The name of the Chateau derives from the original owner Tobie Clarke of Irish origin.
The Chateau was largely forgotten when Edmond de Rothschild purchased it in 1973. Right away, he pulled out the old vines and replanted, a time-consuming and heavy financial expensive and completed until 1979. Benjamin de Rothschild took over the reins of Chateau Clarke from his father in 1999 and set about updating the winery as well as enlisting Michel Rolland as consultant oenologist.
Chateau Clarke is the estate’s top red wine. The vineyards now have a vine age of over 30 years old and are situated on clay-limestone soils. The vineyard is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon (48%), Merlot (42%), Cabernet Franc (8%), and Petit Verdot (2%). The grapes are manually harvested from low-yielding plots, sorted at the winery and and channeled into the tanks by gravity. The wines are aged mostly in new barrels, where they mature for 14 to 18 months. The final blend is 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.
2003 $58 ( SAQ # 13523038)
Alluring aromas of Colombian Arabica beans, cedar and cigar tobacco as well. Pleasant notes of evolution are displayed as well such as stewed prunes with delicate menthol notes. On the mouth, still powerful and structured with grainy tannins complemented by a finale that brings savoury notes of cured meat. If you still have some keep it for another 10 years to ensure proper maturity.
2005 $75( Available on demand, private import)
Beautiful nose of cassis, Szechuan pepper with dark chocolate and strawberry laced with tobacco leaf. Long and round in the mid palate. Fresh with a good acidity and a very persistent finale. Pleasant herbaceous finale.
2006 $75 ( Available on demand, private import)
On the nose dark cacao with licorice accents with very pronounced and pungent animal undertones that bring to mind truffles as well. Very elegant, long and harmonious. Classic Bordeaux structure with enough acidity and tannins to keep it for another decade.
2012 $41.60 ( SAQ # 10677550)
fragrant and very perfumed. Lovely leafy red berry expression fruit character with hints of vanilla. Polished with silky tannins. Quite the earthy finale on this vintage. Will further improve for the next 5 years
2013 $45 ( SAQ # 10677550, arriving at the year end)
Very aromatic nose. Ripe raspberry with goji berries undertones. On the palate, quite polished and very accessible. Very long and fresh. Firm tannins and a charming finale.
2014 $45 ( SAQ # 10677550, next arrival 2019)
Quite Austere. Aromas of cigar tobacco, lead pencil and black pepper with a hint of star anise. Powerful with lots of flesh in the palate and fine tannins. Great mineral finale, just give it some time.
2015 $45 ( SAQ # 10677550, arrival 2019-2020)
Leafy blackcurrant fruit, cedar with hints of tobacco. Powerful, yet in a modern style. Very fresh and refined. This wine will continue to give you pleasure for the next decade.