First, a little bit of background information on Buzet:
On the left bank of the Garonne River, there are 25 miles of east and north-east facing hillsides backing up to the Landes forest that makes up the Buzet appellation. The region is bordered to the west by the forest of Landes, and to the south by the Auvignon, Nerac and Calignac rivers. Twenty-seven communities make up the Buzet region.
First cultivated around the abbeys of Fonclaire, Buzet and St. Vincent, the area was expanded by the merchants of Agen who were thriving during this period by their association with the English. Unfortunately, their neighbours in Bordeaux obtained a protection decree from Eleanor of Aquitaine, "corking" all other wines and allowing only the Bordeaux producers the right to sell their wines to foreign buyers. It was not until 1776, when the law was abolished, that the Buzet wines could begin to compete with its better-known neighbour.
At the end of the 19th century Buzet wines went into severe decline, suffering the ravages of the dreaded phylloxera. The subsequent replanting of mediocre and hybrid grapes had disastrous consequences too, making the wine unacceptable as part of the Bordeaux trade. The final blow came in 1911, when it was decreed that only vineyards in the Gironde area could be used in the production of Bordeaux wines. This effectively outlawed Buzet. The return to favour and status has been slow but steady. In 1953 the region eventually gained VDQS status (Vineyard Data Quantification Society) and finally became an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in 1973.
The climate of Buzet closer resembles South-west France that is drier and hotter than that of Bordeaux which is cooler and damper. The main grape varietals are Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon for the reds; Muscadelle and Sémillon for the whites.
Now the wine:
2000 Baron D’ Ardeuil Vieilles Vignes is produced by the Buzet Vinegrowers Cooperative that oversees over 1700 hectares of vineyard. The grapes are sourced from vineyards in Gascon. It is a blend of 24% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Cabernet Franc. After fermentation, this wine is aged in 30% new oak barrels for 18 months before bottling.
ABV: 13%. Price: $11 (after 15% discount at Astor)
Color: Dark Garnet.
Nose: Upon opening, oak and strong vegetable note (My wife says it smells like scallion). After 1 hour of decanting, stronger aroma of vanilla, cassis and dried cherry finally emerges.
Palate: Cassis, blueberry and dried red fruit flavors with faint hint of tobacco. Angular mouth feel with relatively harsh tannins. Still fairly alcoholic.
Body: Light to medium with minimum structure.
Finish: Rather short. Mostly dried red fruits, peppery and notes of drying tannins.
This wine may need 1-2 years to allow the alochol to mellow a bit further.
Sipping by itself, this wine is not a pleasant beverage. It screams for fatty or saucy food. I paired it with cold chicken wings and beef short ribs, the fat from meat does work wonder on this otherwise dry and straight forward wine.
In spite of all the shortcomings, 2000 Baron D’ Ardeuil still presents a decent QPR value as a everyday wine, especially at 11 bucks.