PICK of the RACK: Chateau La Tonnelle | Cru Bourgeois | Haut-Médoc | Bordeaux | France | 2011 | $20 | 87 pts

Latonnelle 3Chateau la Tonnelle is located in the commune of Vertheuil in the Haut-Médoc appellation, 33 miles north of the city of Bordeaux and within a few miles of the esteemed First Growth (Premier Cru) chateaux of the region’s fabled “left bank.” This wine is classified as Cru Bourgeois, a label that is awarded annually to select Bordeaux wines — from chateaux not included in the Médoc classification of 1855 — based on terroir, winemaking techniques, and quality. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (35%), and Petit Verdot (5%), it expresses aromas of cracked green peppercorn, herbs de provence, and mineral followed by flavors of cranberry, cured tobacco, and Earl Grey tea, all framed by spicy oak (it aged for a year in oak barrels) and hints of spearmint and aniseed on the finish. The wine is medium-bodied, savory, and quite mellow on the palate, with soft tannins and moderate acids. It is a well-crafted, easy-going weeknight Bordeaux that should appeal to fans of subtle red wines. Pair it with soft to medium-sharp cheeses, seared duck breast, braised short ribs, and other savory dishes.

Availability:  Chateau La Tonnelle is available at Total Wine stores nationwide (www.totalwine.com). For information about the history and wines of Chateau La Tonnelle, visit them virtually at www.domaines-fabre.fr/en. For information about the Cru Bourgeois classification process and listings, visit www.crus-bourgeois.com/?lang=en.

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