1999 Chateau Behere ~Pauillac
Mouton Rothschild's Noisy Neighbor
We have been watching this Cabernet-based Pauillac evolve since when we wrote the review below. We have concluded that this one has arrived, and wine does not get much better than this. Lush and polished, the wine shows from the moment you pull the cork. Deep plum and blackberry flavors are long in the front and mid-palate. Wilder berry flavors (raspberry-blueberry-cherry) show through at the finish . There are hints of cinnamon and saffron both in the nose and through the finish. The licorice we noticed in previously has been overpowered with bright berry to the point that it simply adds complexity. We no longer insist on decanting it. The wine is very polished, and will remain so for years.
We purchased this highly muscled, Cab-based Bordeaux from the Chateau a couple of years ago on pedigree. The wine was rock hard, but given its heritage we knew that it would become phenomenal with time. Every once in a while we visited it to see how it was evolving, but there was not much change. Then suddenly; the Behere jumped from its shell and layered, and layered some more! I firmly recommend decanting this wine. Once you do you will find layers of currant and cherry, cola and black liquorices. There are spices, there are enticing components of forest floor. Everything you would hope to find in complex Bordeaux, and indeed in great Bordeaux is exhibited in this classically structured, perfectly cellared masterpiece. Drink now for 10 years.
On Behere: When Jean-Gabriel Camou decided to challenge Latour and Lafite as the preeminent wine made in Pauillac, he needed the terroir. He found it just down the road from Mouton-Rothschild in a former stable close to Cos d' Estournel and Lafite with vines that were planted in the 1960's (on four distinct and separate parcels).
Chateau Behere is the result - a property that does not play the US game. From the get-go it was decided that they would keep control of their own destiny and they would not be a slave to the review game that almost every other property in the area had fallen prey to. There would be No Parker, no Tanzer, no Spectator - just wine made with the most fastidious hand in Bordeaux - the hand of Jean-Gabriel Camou. This would allow them to set their own pricing, set their own system and control their own wine with total disregard for the endless fretting and worry that most other Chateau owners faced when Bob comes to town. Without this constraint, they were free - free to make the style of wine they chose, free to sell it to anyone they wished and free to sink or swim on their own merits - not on the merits of a critics pen.
Of most importance is the land and the winemaker and Camou knows Pauillac. He was born here and he knows the vineyards and their ins and outs like a child that has hiked and biked his way through his neighborhood for his whole life. After nearly 30 years of experience in every conceivable vintage in the northern Medoc he wanted to work for his own cause. While Camou is responsible for many of the classic vintages at Lynch Bages, his goal was to own his own Chateau and that became a reality a decade ago with his first trial vintage, 1994.
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