This week we were sent a sample of Chateau Kirwan’s second wine, Charmes de Kirwan by the négociant firm of Schroeder & Schyler. Schroeder & Schyler has owned the property since 1904 when they picked up the 3rd Growth Kirwan at auction for only £25,000! Before you dismiss this as a second wine, (Charmes is produced primarily from younger vines and lots that didn’t make the grand vin) they’re doing some really nice work at Kirwan, and it has really paid off in terms of quality for the Charmes.
Kirwan, sits on the gravelly “summit”, if you will, of the Cantenac plateau. We’re not talking about a whole lot of elevation here, but this rise of Pyrenean gravel that was deposited here 2 million years ago by the nearby Gironde River, creates excellent drainage for the vineyards. The chateaux of Cantenac and Boyd-Cantenac are Kirwan’s nearest neighbors, and the superb Chateau d’Issan just down the road. In this large appellation, Kirwan is very well situated. The vineyards are planted to 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot.
2009 Charmes de Kirwan, Margaux $40-$45
On day one, this was showing some very pretty, delicate, floral notes that gave this wine a special quality. It drank well immediately upon pulling the cork with soft tannins, medium weight, beautiful, and lovely Cassis fruit, with some dried herbs on the finish. Very classic and pure, it had a warm elegance to it, with no hard edges, With Charmes de Kirwan, most of its intensity and weight is up is front; the wine lightens up on the finish with notable gracefulness. One might complain of a lack of acidity, and certainly a little more crispness would give the wine verve and intensity, not to mention a classic backbone, but at the same time the wine is refreshingly not at all heavy and is absolutely seamless.
On day two, the pretty floral nose is now gone, replaced by minerals, loam and a touch of pencil shavings. The fruit is dryer, the tannins are very fine but a slightly drying with wood. However, the wine is so well-balanced and it has a good amount of complexity. It has filled out a bit with a fuller profile, gaining a bit of weight.
The bottom line. The Charmes de Kirwan is a lovely wine with some complexity, but it does lack some intellectual stuffing. For a nice dinner this would be hard to fault, and would outshine most much more collectible young wines in this role. It was stunning with simply grilled lamb last night. For this aspect, I’d rate the 2009 Charmes 92+ points. However, as an aperitif, while the Charmes is very good, this isn’t quite vivacious enough, or intellectual enough, to hold my attention for too long. In this capacity, I’d give it 88 points.
- CHATEAU KIRWAN Grand Cru Classé Margaux – 2006 (theoptimisticoenophile.com)
- 2009 Labastide Dauzac (thegoodwineguru.com)
- Margaux 2010 Bordeaux Slides to Record Low $8260 in London – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Lafite ’12 Vintage Holding Steady at $5790 a Case Set in August – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)