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Senior editor James Molesworth joined Wine Spectator in 1997. He reviews Bordeaux, the Loire, the Rhône, South Africa and New York's Finger Lakes.
James Molesworth

Uncovering a Value Bordeaux Red

Château Fleur Cardinale St.-Emilion 2004

James Molesworth
Posted: January 6, 2011

Château Fleur Cardinale was one of my pleasant discoveries during my recent tastings in France of the bottled 2008 Bordeaux.

When I got back the States, I tried to find some good value Bordeaux. How did I do it? I looked for the lesser-known properties that did well in 2008, and then searched for their wines in better, but also-overlooked vintages. 2004 is a perfect case in point—the wines were quickly overshadowed by the more powerful (and expensive) 2005s, but the ’04s are round, pure and fresh and drinking beautifully now. So when I found the ’04 Fleur Cardinale for $36 a bottle, I cleaned the retailer out of the last few bottles they had.

Owned by the husband-and-wife team of Dominique and Florence Decoster, Fleur Cardinale is located on the limestone and clay plateau at the top of the St.-Emilion appellation. Their vines border some of those used for the better-known Château Valandraud, whose owner Jean-Luc Thunevin happens to consult on the wine.

The blend of mostly Merlot, along with about 15 percent each of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, is very silky, with a gorgeous mouthfeel and pure, stylish flavors of plum, red cherry and red currant, all laced with fine-grained tannins and nice minerality on the finish. That minerality is a chalky quality that isn’t overly firm or aggressive, and it develops more as the wine airs in the glass. 91 points for me, non-blind.

Want another tip? I’ve seen this same estate’s wine available in the vastly superior ’09 vintage as futures for under $40 as well. Now that’s a steal ....

WineSpectator.com members: Read blind-tasting reviews for other vintages of Château Fleur Cardinale.

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for recently rated 2008 Bordeaux.

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