PICK of the RACK: Chateau Pipeau | Red Blend | Saint-Emilion | Bordeaux | France | 2008 | $35 | 89 pts

Aromas: clove, baking spices; dark, dried berries; oak
Character:  dry; intense; full-bodied; earthy; leathery tannins; mild acids; medium oak
Flavors:  black pepper; clove; toast; iron; dark, dried berries; cedar
Food Pairing:  grilled meats – beef, lamb, chicken

Chateau Pipeau is a family-owned wine estate in Saint-Emilion, the renowned wine producing region on Bordeaux’s “Right Bank.”  Merlot is the predominant red grape variety in Saint-Emilion, and it figures prominently in the Chateau’s 2008 vintage.  This is a blend 90% Merlot accompanied by dashes of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc at 5% each.  It’s distinguished by vivid aromas of spice – primarily clove and black pepper – and dried, dark fruit followed by equally expressive flavors of the same, all finely balanced by notes of leather, toast, iron, and oak.  In aromas and flavors, this Merlot expresses itself much differently than typical New World renditions of the variety; here it’s aromatic, spicy, earth-driven.  But in overall character, it’s as rich and intense as many New World Merlots.  A red Bordeaux with this much personality at this price is also a terrific value by Bordeaux pricing standards.  Consider it a fitting companion to grilled meats – chicken, beef, lamb; but note that it conflicts a bit with dairy-based dishes.

Availability: Folks in Northern Virginia can find this wine at various area Total Wine locations.  If you live elsewhere, ask your favorite wine merchant or visit Chateau Pipeau’s website for guidance on where you may find it:  www.chateau-pipeau.com

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