Quel surprise! Dinner at Chateau Reignac

Quel surprise! Dinner at Chateau Reignac

Post by Alex Shaw | Sunday, March 28th

Sometimes wine has a way of really surprising you.

Even tasting dozens and dozens of wines in an average week at JJ Buckley, and easily 50 to 100 a day here in Bordeaux, occasionally we are taken completely unawares by some new discovery.  This happened to five members of the JJ Buckley staff at Chateau Reignac on Sunday night.

Reignac is an unclassified chateau in the parish of Saint Loubes, which makes

Tasting room inside the tower at Reignac

consistent wines many of us have tasted on several occasions back in the states.  At our visit to Reignac, owner Yves Vatelot boasted of the gravelly soil and fantastic terroir which produces the Reignac fruit, stating that if the classifications were done today, Reignac would certainly qualify.  And at dinner, he would prove it.

Following a tour of the spectacular grounds and barrel room, we tasted through the current vintages (2009, 2008 and 2006) of Reignac Blanc, Chateau de Reignac (2nd wine), Reignac and Balthus, their premier cuvee composed of 100% Merlot.  Our staff was impressed by the concentration of fruit, smooth tannins and overall complexity of the wines.  The 2006s and 2008s were developing very nicely, and the 2009 showed the potential to be stunning, high-scoring wines, able to compete with some of its finest classified Bordeaux brethren.

Cory Gowan, me, and Yves Vatelot

After the tasting we dined in the 16th century chateau with Mr. Vatelot and his wife, Stephanie.  Starting with 2001 Reignac Blanc (fantastic), we moved on to red for the main course, and two decanters emerged from the kitchen for a blind tasting.  We all agreed they were likely late 90s Bordeaux, but there was much debate about which wine showed better— one having the more complex and compelling nose, the other having a bit more structure and depth of flavor on the palate.  We got the vintage right— 1998, with the first being Reignac.  And the wine it was tasted against?  1998 Chateau Margaux!  The table had been split over their choice, and we were all shocked at how well the Reignac compared to this first growth.

This enjoyable exercise continued as two more decanters emerged from the kitchen.  We again settled on possibly late 90’s or 2000, and the table was again split over which wine they preferred.  This time it was 1999, and the two wines turned out to be Reignac… and Chateau Lafite-Rothschild!  We now sat with several glasses in front of us, sipping on two fantastic first growths and two stunning vintages of Reignac.  Just amazing.

The charming and gracious M. Vatelot continued the evening by blind tasting us on two more wines, which turned out to be 2001 Lascombes (also under the guidance of M. Vatelot and stunning) and 2005 Pape Clement, a 98-point Parker wine that many have called THE wine of the vintage.  All of the wines that evening were just fantastic, and the Reignac easily stood shoulder to shoulder with its more famous (and significantly more expensive) neighbors.

Sometimes it’s very good to be surprised.

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