Hunker Down Series: The unsettled mystery of Chateau Destieux 2005

The view from Chateau Destieux in Saint-Emilion on Bordeaux’s Right Bank.

Chateau Destieux 2005 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux – Usually, when I acquire a wine I make a note of it in my CellarTracker account, even if it is a gift. For some unknown reason, a bottle of Chateau Destieux 2005 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru slipped through my meticulous system. I have no idea where this Right Bank Bordeaux came from and/or who gave it to me.

The mystery recently ignited a mission to discover the wine’s provenance. And with the COVID-19 crisis keeping me firmly embedded at home, I had time on my hands to investigate. I started with a price search on the web.

The mystery bottle: Chateau Destieux 2005 Saint-Emilion rand Cru Classe

According to wine-searcher.com, the 2005 Destieux is selling for an average price of $74 a bottle in the U.S – compared to $36 in Europe – and it has accumulated an average critics’ score of 90 points.  What makes the U.S. price interesting is that the bookend vintages of Destieux – 2004 and 2006 – are selling for $40, on average, in the states. So why the $34 disparity from the 2005? Digging deeper, I discovered that the 2005 Bordeaux growing season was considered near perfect, with the St. Emilion appellation rated the best of the bunch. In fact, famous wine critic Robert Parker handed out only two 100-point scores for Bordeaux in 2005 and one went to Chateau Ausone in St. Emilion.

Next I plugged in “Chateau Destieux” into the search engine. No website came up, per se, but I did find references to “Vignobles Dauriac” which turned out to be the owner of Chateau Destieux. I soon learned that the estate has a wonderful history. Maurice Dauriac purchased Destieux Castle and its vineyards (18 acres) more than 50 years ago. Today, Christian Dauriac, an enologist and medical doctor, owns the estate and, under the guidance of famous winemaker Michel Rolland, has purchased three adjoining vineyard proprieties. He’s also expanded his reach to include a share of a South Africa winery in Stellenbosch.

Chateau Destieux overlooks the Dordogne River Valley at one of the two highest points in St. Emilion. According to the castle’s history, people would sit on the hills to look at the sunsets, hence the name “Destieux” which is a translation for “eyes.” Sloping vineyards get plenty of sunshine and are rooted in a clay-limestone mix that adds structure and minerality to classic St. Emilion wines.

When I first tasted the 2005 Chateau Destieux, I couldn’t help but smile. That’s because my anxiety about drinking a 15-year-old wine whose provenance proved to be uncertain was lifted on the first smell and sip. First, the cork was tight and came out without a hitch. Second, the initial aromas were meaty – not musty – and had a trace of sweet balsamic notes . Third, the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot fruit, while not ripe and ready, exhibited a mellow backbone of blackberry, violet and plum flavors that smoothly layered the palate. The taste seeped into the crevices with elegance, and later brought forth savory notes. The color held up pretty well too. Dark crimson in the center of the glass with only slight bricking (reddish-brown) on the edges. The tannins were soft, pliant. The wine was aging as it should – gracefully.

Like I said earlier, I don’t recall purchasing this wine. I’ve also searched the websites of local retail outlets only to come up empty on Chateau Destieux. The result leads me to suspect that this bottle was a gift from someone special and I apologize for not being able to put the bottle to a face and vice versa.

Going forward, my Chateau Destieux “eyes” will remain wide open as I try to crack the case. Maybe, just maybe, another bottle will appear on my doorstep with a note. In the meantime, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the kind person – name unknown – who permitted me the pleasure of enjoying the Chateau Destieux 2005 and all the mystery surrounding it.

 

 

 

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