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The Legende Saint-Emilion Bordeaux 2016 is a blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc sourced from contract vineyards in the Saint-Emilion region of the Right Bank of Bordeaux in western France.
The Legende brand is the Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) line of Bordeaux regional wines. The wines (except for one) are not sourcing grapes from Rothschild estate vineyards, but from growing in some elite growing areas. This makes Legende wines more affordable.
Saint-Emilion is on the Right Bank of the Dordogne River, along with Pomerol are the premier Merlot regions. The Right Bank features Merlot-based blends with Cabernet Franc and sometimes Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Left Bank will have Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends along with smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Bordeaux wines come at all price points from thousands of dollars for Grand Cru wines to ten bucks for standard blends.
The top growing regions, such as Saint-Emilion tend to fetch higher prices with Cru wines at the top end. The Legende Saint-Emilion Bordeaux 2016 showed, with a quick check of the web, to be selling around twenty-five dollars. There was a wide range of prices on either side of $25.
It is not uncommon for the average American wine drinker to have limited knowledge of French wines. Bordeaux wines are very location and producer oriented, the who and the where are extremely important. When your knowledge of French wine is limited to reading an article in Wine Spectator while in your Dentist waiting room, who and where can be a mystery.
That is where the Legende brand and Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) come in. They have been producing wine in Bordeaux at a high level for a couple of hundred years. You could do worse than choosing them as a starting point.
The Legende Saint-Emilion Bordeaux 2016, even though it is a wine from a premier region, is a drink-it-now wine, not meant to be cellared. The current vintage is 2016 and that shows this blend went through a fairly complex production process.
The simpler the process the sooner the wine is available for sale. So a wine that needed four years to achieve its balance got the full winemaking treatment.
The Legende Saint-Emilion Bordeaux 2016 is 95% Merlot (their website shows the bland to be 85% Merlot and 14% Cabernet Franc, but the back label gives the (95%/5% blend) which by California wine rules would be labeled Merlot and not a blend.
Merlot has a softer more rounded feel while Cabernet Franc is tighter and more intense while also adding a different flavor. So the Cab Franc gives the Merlot a little boost.
Merlot, for me, especially in the usual value price range is a blending grape. It does not make for bad wine, but it is not memorable. I have had excellent Merlot that was not from France but not often. Merlot from Bordeaux changes all that. Merlot from Bordeaux and Saint-Emilion is outstanding.
The Legende was aged for 12 months with only 40% of the wine in French oak barrels. They did not specify how the other 60% was aged, but since the wine was fermented in stainless steel vats these were probably used. The alcohol content is a balanced 13.5%.
Legende Saint-Emilion Bordeaux 2016 Tasting Notes
The color is shiny black cherry red. The nose is blackberry, licorice, light herbs, lightly spiced, a little black pepper, and plum. This is a soft, smooth flavorful wine with an edge from the Cabernet Franc and the tannins.
It starts with ripe, intense blackberry and licorice, this wine is both soft and smooth and sleek and intense. The Merlot and the Cab Franc show themselves well. There are additional flavors of blueberry, black pepper, raspberry, and dark chocolate, but not sweet.
The tannins are there, you can sense them, but they do not interfere with the flavors. The acidity is seamless and balanced.
- The Legende Saint-Emilion Bordeaux 2016 is a Grand Cru producer’s version of an affordable drink-it-now wine. If you look around the shelves of your local wine shop the everyday wines are not the 2016 vintage.
- But that works for me because you get a taste of the expensive high-end Bordeaux at a not so high-end price.