The other day I was in a convenience store over the road, under instructions to buy some Chewits Extreme for younger son, when a couple of bottles of wine caught my eye. Along with the usual brands, there were two bottles of Caronne Ste Gemme 2004, unpriced.
I asked, and after about 5 minutes, they figured the price was £7.99 (just a little more than half normal price). So I bought one, just out of curiosity.
Chris Kissack didn’t like it all that much (here), and the cellartracker reviews have it in the high 80s. But I really like it. It’s a classically styled Bordeaux, with some nice greenness and a bit of grip. This is what we come to Bordeaux for: no other region can make wines like these, save perhaps the Loire. With just a quarter aged in new oak, it’s very well balanced. No spoofiness at all. I’ll be going back for the second bottle tomorrow, and I’ll ask them whether they can get any more.
I genuinely prefer this modest (by Bordeaux standards) wine over much more lauded examples from the ripe 2009 vintage which often don’t really taste like Bordeaux at all.
Chateau Caronne Ste Gemme 2004 Haut Medoc, Bordeaux
12.5% alcohol. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot. Attractive, ripe, pure blackcurrant fruit nose with a fresh green edge and some notes of spice, herbs and minerals. Lovely tension between the sweet fruity notes and the savoury, leafy green tones. The palate shows fresh blackcurrants with some grippy, mineral, chalky, subtly tarry structure. It’s vital and sappy, balancing on the cusp of ripeness in the way that so many good Bordeaux wines seem to manage so well. It’s not a blockbuster, but it has adequate concentration and purity, and is beginning to drink very well now. It will peak in a year or two but then plateau for several years, I reckon. Great value for money. 92/100
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