Bordeaux Impulse: Chateau Argadens Bordeaux Red and White

Fellow wine lovers, since 1883 the Sichel family have been merchants of the finest Bordeaux wines, with one generation succeeding the last, and the sixth generation of Sichel who are now at the helm have a unique perspective on the past, present, and future of Bordeaux. They see, first hand, the widening gap between the producers of modern Bordeaux and those still in the past, and this unique situation has given them cause to make the transition from a Bordeaux broker to Bordeaux producer. Over the past 50 years they’ve taken it upon themselves to acquire a number of estates, some thriving – others derelict, working to modernize viticultural and vinification practices in order to meet their fullest potential in wine. They tweak the precision with which the vines are tended by adding higher density plantings and lowering crop yields, with deeper concentration, and they bring modern winemaking equipment into the cellar. 

Within the Sichel family line-up are top wines such a the famed Chateau Palmer (one of my favorite third growths) as well as lesser known estates, such as Chateau Argadens, onto which they impose the same exacting standards. 

Chateau Argadens 2009 Bordeaux Superieur Rouge $14.99 (Normally $18) 

Named for the family which founded the estate in the 12th century, Chateau Argadens is a welcomed value in Bordeaux. You may have caught wind of numerous reports in recent years regarding the sky-rocketed trajectory of Bordeaux pricing to the point un-obtainability; they say now that sales have dropped drastically due to unaffordable nature of the wines. Thankfully, if we dig deep enough, we can still unearth the likes of Chateau Argadens. 

This is a Bordeaux Superieur, which means it’s harvested from a single parcel of land, from older vines, and aged in barrel a minimum of 12 months (14 in this case). A blend of 63% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc with an average vine age of thirty years. The plots are well situated atop one of the highest hills in the region, providing them with superb exposure to the sun and excellent drainage from the rains, to grow ripe and concentrated grapes. The fruit is hand-harvested and fermented in large vats, then aged in 30% new French oak barrels for 14 months, receiving light fining and filtering prior to being bottled. 

2009 is an ideal vintage for finding great values in Bordeaux, being that it was an overall exceptional year, elevating the quality of wine produced at all levels. Already with 5 years of age, the Argadens is starting to show signs of maturing, but still can be held on to for another few years. It starts out tight on the nose, with nuances of plums and sage from the Merlot, then the palate takes to you black pepper and dark fruits from the Cabernet Sauvignon with the Merlot showing hints of chocolate. In the mid-palate, the tannins are firm yet smooth, there is granitic earth, blackberry, and a touch of baking spice from the oak. It all finishes with hints of pomegranate and spicy Cabernet Franc notes. 

Region: Bordeaux, France 
Vineyard: Argadens Estate Vineyards 
Grape: 63% Merlot 32% Cabernet Sauvignon 5% Cabernet Franc 
Aging: 30% new French oak barrels for 14 months 
Drinkability: Now – 2019 
Body: Medium-Full 
Food Pairings: Braised beef, pot roast, grilled asparagus 

Chateau Argadens 2010 Bordeaux Blanc $14.99 (Normally $18) 

The Chateau Argadens Blanc is a traditional Bordeaux white of 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillon. The two sets of grapes are harvested and fermented individually, with the Semillon juice being pressed immediately, while the Sauv Blanc grapes are crushed and the juices allowed to soak on the skins for a short period of time. This allows for the extraction of some phenolic content from the skins, giving the finished wine a richer mouthfeel. During this delicate process, before fermentation has started, the fresh juice is blanketed in a layer of inert Nitrogen gas to protect it from undesirable microorganisms which would otherwise feed on its sugars. After a few days, the juice is separated from the skins and placed into 30% new French oak barrels to begin fermentation, during which the lees are stirred multiple times each week to make for a wine with greater texture. 

A really underappreciated wine, white Bordeaux is the kind of wine that pairs with most foods and pleases all palates, while presenting exceptional value. The Sauvignon Blanc provides freshness with notes of green apples and lemons with a backbone of crisp acidity, while the Semillon brings richer flavors of bosque pears, a slight almond nuttiness, and hints of honey. The Argadens Blanc is light, minerally, and refreshing, perfect for sunny weather with oysters and other seafood. 

Click here to order the Chateau Argadens White Bordeaux 

Region: Bordeaux, France 
Vineyard: Argadens Estate Vineyards 
Grape: 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillon 
Aging: 30% new French oak barrels for 6 months 
Drinkability: Now-2015 
Body: Light-Medium 
Food Pairings: Oysters, cod, halibut

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