Denis Dubourdieu Makes Magic in Margaux
by Cynthia Hurley
Chateau d'Arsac on the Margaux border: source of
all the Winemaker's Collection Wines
Robert Parker on cuvee #2
"This enticing project was instituted by the Bordeaux negociant, Bordeaux Millesimes, under the moniker of "Once Upon a Wine." Each year a wine will be made based on one parcel of vines from Chateau d'Arsac, and the concept involves one of the world's most respected winemakers for each vintage. Denis Dubourdieu was chosen for 2006, following the debut vintage, 2005, made by Michel Rolland."
Approximately 5,000 cases will be produced in each vintage. Professor Dubourdieu fashioned a dense ruby/purple-hued wine displaying notes of black cherries, cassis, licorice, pain grille, and earth. More structured than the 2005, with less sweet tannin, it is richly fruity, deep, medium to full-bodied, and impressively endowed. The 2006 Cuvee Number Two should drink well for 15 or more years. These wines are meant to be a cinematic study of the same terroir with the philosophy of the winemaker imprinted on each vintage, and the winemakers are given carte blanche authority to do whatever they want. It will be fascinating to compare these offerings as they evolve, but there is no doubt that some of the world's greatest winemaking talents are being lined up to continue this creative concept. Rated 90-92" Robert Parker The Wine Advocate April 2007.
It just keeps getting better. First we had Michel Rolland creating his dream wine at Chateau d'Arsac in Margaux and now for Cuvee # 2 we have Denis Dubourdieu. For those lucky enough to have purchased shares in this five year project, your Michel Rolland Cuvee #1 should all have been delivered unless I am storing it for you.
But, now it's time to think about Cuvee #2. Denis Dubourdieu is well-known around Bordeaux. He advises some very famous Chateaux about their winemaking. Cheval Blanc, for one. He owns Doisy- Daene, one of my favorite Sauternes as well as Clos Floridene and Chateau Reynon. He is a Professor and Director of Oenology at Bordeaux University which means he is up on all the current technology, but he's not just sitting behind his desk, he's also out there in the vineyards with his clients getting his hands dirty.
The fascinating part about the Wine Makers' Collection is being able to taste the results from having the world's most talented wine makers making their ideal wine on the same terroir. Dubourdieu and Rolland are very different characters and yet they both succeeded in producing two of the best wines of their respective vintages.
Dubourdieu decided to put more Cabernet Sauvignon into the final blend. (55% as opposed to Rolland's 35%). Denis Dubourdieu decided to use less oak than Rolland. Dubourdieu is guarded about micro- oxygenation. Dubourdieu makes a wine that is aromatic and elegant and very structured. Michel Rolland makes a lusher, more Merlot-based opulent wine. It may also take longer to reach full maturity.
I don't know about you, but I find all of this pretty exciting. I'll think we'll learn a lot about our own style from having Dubourdieu side by side with Rolland. You may think you're a Cabernet Sauvignon type of guy and find out you're just a big Merlot man after all. That's wine - anything can happen. So, for the next few years, one of the most talented wine makers from around the world will be selected to have a crack at the terroir at Chateau d'Arsac and craft his (or her) utopian wine. He will have every tool at his disposal - no matter the cost. A picture of the wine maker will dominate the label as it should. After all, this is not about a chateau or a vintage, this is about a wine maker and his creation.
Already I can picture myself at dinner one night in 2012 surrounded by 5 beautiful bottles from 5 of the greatest legends in the wine world. I think I will decant them all and serve them blind and then we will start to savor and discuss each one. Some will see it as an engaging competition among wine makers and it most certainly will be that, but I know I will love and respect them all as a tribute to the many different ways you can create monumental and memorable wines; a metaphor for the brilliant differences in our astounding world.
It will clearly be very desirable to collect all 5 wine makers for your cellar so if you purchased the Rolland wine (Cuvee #1), you will automatically be given a share in the Dubourdieu offering (Cuvee #2) and subsequent offerings.
Denis Dubourdieu whet my appetite for his wine this past spring. I saw him at a dinner at Chateau Latour Martillac in Pessc Leognan where he is the wine making consultant for both their red and white wines. When someone asked him to describe his wine one of the first things he said was, " Well, it's very different from Michel Rolland's." And, he winked in his inscrutable way. Cynthia Hurley
***Subscribers will be allocated the same quantity of the Winemakers' Collection #2 as they bought of Winemakers' Collection #1. If you purchased Cuvee #1, and would like to order Cuvee #2, please do so as early as possible. If you no longer wish to participate, Please Let Me Know, so I can remove your name from our list of subscribers, and give the spot to someone else!!
Subscribers will have the first option of buying each subsequent vintage in advance of any general offering.