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Total Wine  McLean, Virginia



  1. Presenters
  2. Participants
  3. The wines
  4. Information on the wines
  5. Member’s wines ratings


Franco Batzella and his wife Khan (vineyard and winery owners), Peter Scherer, Total Wine Staff (Mary)

TYPE :  Blind


Orlando Mason, Peter Scherer, Jorge Requena, Mohammad Farhandi, Alfonso and Mona Sánchez, Mr. and Mrs. Jorge García y Patricia Uribe, Jairo Sánchez, Mario and Herminia Aguilar, Eric Sundquist


This presentation focused on comparing the wines form Batzella Winery and Vineyards in Bolghri, Tuscany with a sample of Bordeaux wines of similar composition and price ranges.  Franco Batzella and his wife Khan presented two of their wines to the participants and Total Wine staff (Mary) made the presentation of the Bordeaux wines.

  1. 2011 Pean, Batzella, DOC Bolgheri
  2. 2009 Tam, Batzella, DOC, Bolgheri
  3. 2009 Larrivet Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan
  4. 2009 Monbousquet, St-Emilion
  5. 2011 La Vielle Cure Fronsac
  6. 2012 Chateau les Hauts de Smith, Haut Lafitte


(All information obtained and condensed from several Internet articles.)

2011 Pean, Batzella, Bolgheri DOC 

PeanThe Winery. Bolgheri, on the Tuscan coast just south of Livorno, is one of Italy’s most prestigious vineyard areas. Its winemaking zone is made up of sloping coastal vineyards at the foot of the hills between the town of Bolgheri, after which this DOC is named, and the southern part of Castagneto. Located in close proximity to the Tyrrhenian Sea, it has been described as ‘the golden oasis of the Maremma’ (an area of south-western Tuscany and northern Lazio). The region soils tend to be very similar to those on the left bank of Bordeaux having been formerly swamp lands that eventually became available for grape planting particularly of the Bordeaux varieties.

The main focus of the Bolgheri DOC is the importance of terroir and for this reason, the Bolgheri Rosso and Bolgheri Superiore wines are labeled without the mention of grapes, as terroir is considered more significant than grape varieties. It is also why Bolgheri wines are reputed for their true expressions of terroir.

Franco Batzella and his wife Khan Nguyen founded this winery in 2000 and soon after they began to produce outstanding wines mostly based on Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the two varieties that thrive and better express terrior in the Bolghery AOC. The wines have been received with high marks by the criticas and the public

Read about the Batzella winery here: http://www.batzella.it/en/ and here: http://www.wine-searcher.com/regions-bolgheri

The Wine: This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc Fermented 100% in stainless steel; malolactic in barriques Aging: min. 12 months in French oak barriques and 6 months in bottle.  Peàn means a hymn to the Sun god Apollo. The wine is made from especially selected grapes from the estate production. The name is taken from the poetry of Gabriele D’Annunzio where he sang his love for summer and for Tuscany, especially the areas along the Tyrrhenian coast where we are located: “ Il vento ch’elle muovono/ solleva il cuor degli uomini/ come un peàn che càntino/cetere a miriadi ” (The wind moved by the wings [of the nymphs] lifts the heart of mankind like a hymn sung by a thousand dulcimers.) The label image is taken from a detail of an oil painting, which is also used for the label Vox Loci. It is chosen because it reminds of the world famous 5 km long road leading to the village of Bolgheri

WA – “Fully loaded with dark fruit, dried blackberry, blackcurrant and an assortment of spice and tobacco flavors. This is a large-framed wine with brooding concentration and a supple finish.”

Food affinities: red meats grilled or roasted, stews, games, grilled red bell peppers and aubergines, seasoned cheeses. Try it with dessert like crème caramel with chocolate, walnut/chestnut pies

  • Experts Ratings: WA 90 Pts.
  • Member Ratings: 89 Pts.
  • Price:  $25

2009 Tam, Batzella, Bolgheri DOC

TamThe Wine: This wine isa blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (65%), and Cabernet Franc (35%).  Fermentation takes place in stainless steel and then moved for the malolactic phase into barriques. The wine is aged : 18-24 months in French oak barriques, and at least 12 months in bottles. The name Tâm is Vietnamese for passion, indeed the passion that moves the producers in their search of that elusive balance between elegance and power for their wines. The label design is taken from the Chinese calligraphy, which also means heart, passion.  According to the WA the 2009 Bolgheri Superiore Tam is dark, deep and rich wine. It boasts tons of concentration, depth and sheer structure. Food affinities: red meats, games, stews even with a touch of chocolate, duck confit, seasoned cheeses, try it even with strong personality fish.

  • Experts Ratings: RP: 93 Pts.; Vionus 92 Pts.
  • Member Ratings: 91 Pts.
  • Price: $40

2009 Larrivet Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

larrivet brionThe Winery:  After some tussles with their neighbors and some legal battles over the use of the name ‘Haut-Brion’ the estate has been known by its current name, “Chateau Larrivet-Haut-Brion”. Purchased in 1988 by the Gerverson family (of Bonne Maman fruit jams) the estate has made marked improvements in quality and it shows in their consistently good reception and reviews. It lingers under the radar just a bit, and was not included in the 1855 classifications but this estate is well worth exploration by Graves fans. The red vineyards are planted to 55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc and the white vineyards to 60% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon and 5% Muscadelle.

Read more here: http://www.larrivethautbrion.fr/index.php/en/our-history

The Wine: Elegant, concentrated, powerful, and well-balanced on the palate. Long aftertaste with remarkably smooth tannin. A great wine with fine ageing potential that will richly reward patience…”

  • Expert Ratings: JS 93 Pts.; RP: 91 Pts.; ST: 91 Pts.; WS (1 Pts.
  • Member Ratings: 90 Pts.
  • Price: $43

2009 Monbousquet, St-Emilion

monbousquetThe Winery: The 32 hectare St. Emilion Monbousquet vineyard is planted to 70% Merlot , 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon . The vines are planted to a density of 5,500 vines per hectare. The average age of the vines is 40 years. The terroir of sand, clay and gravel soils is not the best in St. Emilion. The vineyard can be divided into two sections. You find more sand and clay in the north and more gravel in the south. However, Gerard Perse gets the most out of it, starting with seeking out low yields as a way to increase concentration and improve quality. For example, in 2009, the yields were only 28 hectoliters per hectare.

Vinification takes place in a combination of small, temperature controlled stainless steel vats and French oak tanks. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barrel. The wine of Chateau Monbousquet is aged in 60% new, French oak barrels for an average of 20 months. Nearly 6,000 cases of Monbousquet are produced each vintage.

Chateau Monbousquet also produces a dry white Bordeaux wine from one hectare of vines planted in sand, clay and gravel soils. The section of the vineyard devoted to white wine grapes is planted to 66% Sauvignon Blanc and 34% Sauvignon Gris . Chateau Monbousquet is fermented in stainless steel tanks, before aging in 50% new, French oak barrels . There is no malolactic fermentation or skin contact. About 350 cases of Monbousquet Blanc are produced each year.

The Wine: Stephen Tanzer (60% merlot, 30% cabernet franc and 10% cabernet sauvignon): Deep ruby. Wild nose melds aromas of dark berries, meat, leather, flowers, espresso and smoky oak. Plush, round and sweet, with dark fruit flavors complicated by salty minerality. Finishes with superb ripe tannins and noteworthy freshness. A fine-grained, very nicely balanced example of Monbousquet and not especially outsized for the year. (7/2012)

  • Expert Ratings: JS: 94 Pts.; WS: 94 Pts.; RP: 93 Pts.; ST: 92 Pts.
  • Member Ratings: 89 Pts.
  • Price: $45

2011 La Vielle Cure Fronsac

chateau-la-vieille-cure-fronsac-france-10183175The Winery: With its 20 hectares (50 acres) in one single plot, Château La Vieille Cure appears on a famous map of the Guyenne region, known as the Belleyme map, dated 1780. Parish records show grapes were grown there in the 17th Century. The vines occupy a privileged location on plateaus and slopes that are oriented to the southeast. The estate runs along the River Isle at an elevation of 65 metres, where it soaks up the sun, while enjoying perfect drainage. This situation favors the growth of grapes that ripen generously and under ideal physical conditions.

Read more about the winery here: http://www.la-vieille-cure.com/ENG/propriete_ENG.html

The Wine: Winemaker’s Notes: This wine, a blend of Merlot (74%), Cabernet Franc(22%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (4%), whose vines are more than 25 years old, has been aged in oak casks. It has succulent ripe fruits and firm tannins and may be drunk young or cellared for 10 to 15 years. It is particularly well-suited to being served with meats or grilled fish.

The harvest is manual and made in small crates. They are accompanied by a double sorting before and after total de-stemming. After maceration for 3 to 4 weeks, the fermentation is conducted in stainless steel tanks for 3 weeks followed by malolactic fermentation then aged in oak barrels (approximately 30 to 40% new). A selection of the best vintages is successful, the rest is used in the second wine “The Sacristy of the Vielle Cure.”

The wine is rich, expressive and complex. The Merlot (75% of the grapes used) it gives much fruit. Its tannic structure gives it an aging potential of a decade or more, allowing it to develop a generous bouquet. So it is best to wait at least 4 to 5 years.

Regular quality wine is now considered among the best of the appellation. The annual production is about 75,000 bottles.

  • Experts Ratings: WS: 92 Pts.; RP: 92 Pts.
  • Member Ratings: 88 Pts.
  • Price: $30

 2012 Chateau Les Hauts de Smith, Haut Lafitte

Les Hautes de SmithThe Winery: Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte has a long history in Bordeaux that dates back over 800 years. The estate started out life as part of the Du Boscq holdings in the Graves region. It was Du Boscq who planted vines in 1365 on a gravelly plateau called Lafitte. This is of course where part of the famous chateau took its name. Jumping ahead a few hundred years, George Smith bought the Graves estate in 1720. Smith added his name to the property, which we now know of as Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte. The 67-hectare Pessac Leognan vineyard of Smith Haut Lafitte has grapes for the production of both red and white Bordeaux wine. 56-planted hectares of vines are used red wine grapes.

The terroir consists of deep gravel with the top surface covered in smaller quartz pebbles and sand in their soil. The vineyard is planted to 55% Cabernet Sauvignon , 34% Merlot , 10% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot for the red wine. The average age of the vines is close to 30 years of age. They have old vines, which are close to 65 years of age. The vineyard is planted to a vine density of 9,000 vines per hectare. At Smith Haut Lafitte, all work in the vineyard is organic and self sustainable. In fact, much of the farming techniques employed are with an eye to biodynamic farming techniques.

For the vinification of the red wine for Smith Haut Lafitte, after sorting and pre fermentation cold maceration, the grapes are whole berry fermented in 30 large, temperature controlled, oak vats that range in size from 60 hectoliters up to 120 hectoliters. Malolactic fermentation takes place in a combination of new, French oak barrels, older barrels and vats. All wine is moved by gravity in the cellars of Smith Haut Lafitte. The wine ages on its lees for the first few months of aging. The red Bordeaux wine of Smith Haut Lafitte is aged in an average of 60% to 70% new, French oak barrels for between 16 to 18 months. On average 10,000 cases of Smith Haut Lafitte red wines are produced each vintage.

Read more about the Chateau here: http://www.smith-haut-lafitte.com/en/smith-haut-lafitte-chateau.html

The Wine:  A blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Comments by Fabien Teitgen, Technical Director:Les Hauts de Smith Red 2012 present a dark bright ruby red color.  The nose is expressive with notes of red fruits (cherry, strawberry), of sweet spices, cinnamon, star anise, vanilla and beautiful flowery aromas that give this wine a complex and elegant profile.  The attack in mouth is delicate and unctuous with a beautiful tannin texture. The mouth is round, balanced, harmonious, well-defined, subtle, smooth and already very pleasant. This wine offers length for a refreshing and aromatic finale. There we rediscover the same fresh and elegant aromas of red fruits, flowers, sweet spices, star anise, vanilla, caramel and flint stone.
Les Hauts de Smith Red 2012 is a balanced, elegant, aromatic and complex wine that will please your palate from 2015 on and for at least the next 5 years.

  • Experts Ratings: RP: 92 Pts.
  • Member Ratings: 91 Pts
  • Price: $75


Rating Scale:

  • 96-100 Pts. – Exceptional
  • 90-95 Pts.  –  Outstanding
  • 86-89 Pts.  –  Very good
  • 81-85 Pts.  –  Good
  • 76-80 Pts.  –  Acceptable
  • 75 or fewer – Mediocre

Participants ranking, average scores and wine prices :

  1. 91 Pts. – $752012 Chateau les Hauts de Smith, Haut Lafitte
  2. 91 Pts. $40 2009 Tam, Batzella, DOC, Bolgheri
  3. 90 Pts. $43 – 2009 Larrivet Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan
  4. 89 Pts. – $25 – 2011 Pean, Batzella, DOC Bolgheri
  5. 89 Pts. – $45 – 2009 Monbousquet, St-Emilion
  6. 88 Pts. – $30 – 2011 La Vielle Cure Fronsac

The wines were judged in the rage  very good to outstanding.  There is a tie at the top between the Tam and the Hautes de Smith with very different prices.

Looking at the differences in prices vs. the differences in scores by the participants the Best Value for Money would be the 2011 Pean, Batzella with 89 points for $25.  The participants preference (by show of hands) was very close between wines 3, 1 and 2 in that order on the list above.

See full detailed evaluation here: Tasting _51-Batzella-Bordeau-Evaluation (1)