I had a lunch appointment yesterday and thought that it would be a good gesture to take a bottle of wine. Now I’m a journalist, not a doctor or lawyer or captain of industry, damnit — my regular job is being a reporter for the daily newspaper in Memphis — so I don’t have a wine cellar. There is a wine rack though, and sometimes I find an older, not a really old, wine on a bottom shelf, like “whoa, where did that come from?” That was the case with La Fleur de Boüard 1999, Lalande de Pomerol. fleur.jpg

The chateau is a small property owned by Hubert and Corinne de Boüard de Laforest, co-proprietors of the splendid Chateau Angelus, a Premier Grand Cru Classe estate in Saint-Emilion. These are so-called Right Bank appellations of Bordeaux, meaning that they lie on the right side of the Dordogne river, about 45-minutes drive east of the city of Bordeaux, which lies on the left bank of the Garonne river. The two waterways merge north of Bordeaux (the city) to form the wide and mighty Gironde, which flows to the Atlantic. St.-Emilion is one of Bordeaux’s great appellations; Lalande de Pomerol, not as significantly situated, is often called a “satellite” commune or appellation, which doesn’t mean that great wines cannot emerge from it, as this example illustrates.

Anyway, in the Right Bank communes, the principal grape is merlot, which benefits from the clay-like or clay-gravel soil; the merlot is typically blended with smaller amounts of cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon. In fact, the blend for La Fleur de Boüard 1999 is 80% merlot, 15% cabernet franc and 5% cabernet sauvignon. The wine tends to age 18 to 24 months in oak barrels, of which 80 to 90% are new. This is fairly rigorous treatment, but La Fleur de Boüard ’99 comes through terrifically well.

The bouquet is ripe and warm and meaty and laden with scents of spiced and macerated black currants, black cherries and plums. That sensation of warmth, of downright appeal, continues in the mouth, where the wine is smooth and mellow and drinkable, with a texture like dusty velvet. It takes a few minutes before the durable structural elements begin to assert themselves: the earthiness and minerality, the tannin packed with layers of walnut shell, dried porcini and underbrush, the polished oak. At the same time, the aromas unfurl hints of lavender and sandalwood and dried spices.

At almost eight years old, what an enticing wine! I rate it Excellent. It’s one of those bottles that I wish I had six or so around, to test it over the next few years. It should be a lovely wine through 2012 to ’15.

I think I paid $38 or $42 for this three or four years ago, though I’ve seen it on the Internet as low at $26. Recent vintages are more expensive, going up to $65, but all wine from Europe is more expensive now. And have you seen French and Italian cheeses? Outrageous!