Wine Review: Cru Monplaisir Bordeaux Superieur 2018
Grape: Bordeaux Blend (75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc)
This left-bank Bordeaux blend is a prime, classic example of French Bordeaux’s and old-world wine in general. Like the Ruffino Il Ducale blend, this is one of those bottles that once I opened and tasted, I was immediately reminded of why I love the old-world so much. Even before decanting, the plum, pepper, and earthy oak are already present in an extremely rich, yet balanced way. These tasty, creamy notes only develop and balance out even more as the wine aerates.
Julie and Xavier Gonet-Médeville, the couple that produces Cru Monplaisir, each come from families with a rich and famous history in French wine. Julie’s family, the Medeville’s, are known for Chateau Gilette and its sweet, white sauternes. Xavier Gonet’s family has a long history of making champagne and other wines in the region. Together, the couple has produced a variety of wines, mixing their knowledge and family histories, and Cru Monplaisir is just one of them.
These grapes come from five different plots located in and around Preignac, France. Preignac is a small commune located in southern Bordeaux. Wine drinkers often overlook wines from these vineyards for their famous neighboring vineyards, Chateau Margaux and Chateau d’Issan, but they produce and share many of the same soils and vines at a fraction of the cost.
Bordeaux includes 57 different appellations and is spread across 60 miles of southwestern France with 111,000 hectares of grape-producing vines. These 57 appellations are then split by the Gironde Estuary, and people refer to this split as the Left and Right Banks. The Left Bank is on the southern side of the Garonne River, while the Right Bank is on the northern side of the Dordogne River. The left bank is primarily famous for the Medoc wine region which includes well-known appellations such as St. Julien and Margaux. The left bank also includes other well-known appellations such as Haut-Medoc, Graves, and the sweet wines of Sauternes. Now, the Right Bank is best known for Pomerol and St. Emilion, and it also includes other appellations such as Cotes de Bordeaux.
Bordeaux Blends are typically heavy on cabernet sauvignon or merlot with smaller amounts of cabernet franc, malbec, and petite Verdot. The right bank is more known for its merlot-heavy blends, while the left is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon heavy blends. This is not a set-in-stone thing though, and this left-bank Bordeaux shows that. Cru Monplaisir is 75% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon, and 5% cabernet franc. The Merlot adds a mixture of soft dark and red fruits, while the cabernet sauvignon adds richness and some complexity. Finally, the little bit of cabernet franc ties it together with bits of floral, peppery, and earthy notes.
The aromas immediately give off dark fruits with an oak undertone. In between all of this, there are hints of smokey, musty earthiness. As the wine opens up, pepper and cherry start to come out and help balance the oaky undertones.
Tongue: Right out of the bottle, there are rich, deep notes of dark fruit, mocha chocolate, and oak. There are hints of bright cherry and pepper sprinkled throughout. As the wine aerates, the chocolate takes a back seat; the dark fruits and oak find a nice, tasty balance; and pepper takes the wheel.
The wine is structured extremely well as you would expect from an old-world Bordeaux with a medium body and higher tannins and acidity. The overall mouthfeel has a smooth, creamy feel, and this is largely accompanied by the chocolate notes.
As far as inexpensive Bordeaux’s go, Cru Monplaisir is a steal. The taste, quality, and overall experience with the wine would make you think it’s double the price. If the wine itself is not enough for you, remember that vineyards Gonnet-Medeville uses for this particular bottle are situated between two famous vineyards, Chateau Margaux and Chateau d’Issan. This proximity means that their vines produce similar quality grapes and share some of the soils and minerals. If you want a fruit-forward, non-jammy Bordeaux that embodies the stereotypes of the old-world, this is an amazing, inexpensive bottle to check out.