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Executive editor Thomas Matthews joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beat is Spain.
Thomas Matthews

A Taste of the Past

Château Haut-Rian Bordeaux White 2007

Thomas Matthews
Posted: February 23, 2009

I got my start in the wine business in 1979, when I worked during the harvest picking grapes in Bordeaux. I found a place with the DeBeaupuy family at their small estate in Soulignac, a village in Entre-Deux-Mers. They made basic red and white wines, bottled some, and sold the rest in bulk to négociants. There was nothing "grand cru" about it, but they were generous to me and I fell in love with their world.

I am still in touch with the family, and I still enjoy drinking basic Bordeaux, probably because the flavors are enhanced by happy memories. I especially enjoy the white Bordeaux bottled under the Entre-Deux-Mers appellation. So when I found Château Haut-Rian 2007 in my local wine shop for $12, I picked up a bottle. (The screw-cap closure was a bonus.)

I drank it with red snapper I had baked in foil with crushed garlic, Meyer lemon and dry vermouth. The fish was moist, meaty, yet quite delicate, and didn't want to compete with too big a wine. The Haut-Rian was just right, a modest accompanist, with clean pear and herbal flavors and bright acidity. I rated it 86 points, non-blind.

The next day I did a bit of research, and discovered that the vintner, Michel Dietrich, was originally from Alsace, which perhaps explained the clean, fresh, fruity style of the wine. And that he had worked in Australia, which possibly explained the screw cap. And then I read, on the importer's website, that the wine comes "from near the village of Soulignac." The very place I had picked grapes so long ago.

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