Import Selection: Fonset-Lacour, 1985, Barton and Gustier

The firm of Barton & Gustier has been blending and shipping fine French wines since 1725. They are “negociants-éleveurs”, as well as growers themselves. (their flagship is Chateau Magnol in Haut Medoc, Bordeaux, France.) Even though they are based in Bordeaux, they offer an extensive variety of wines from different re­gions of France.

Michel Fouchaux has been their director of enology since 1976. He is responsible for this gem of an unceremonious claret! It is the skill of the enologist in these firms that is responsible for the quality of wine in the final prod­uct. They primarily purchase wine from various small growers, blend and age them in their own cellars, and market them as brand wines.

Fonset-Lacour is a brand name for B & G’s low-end Bordeaux. In fact, because the wine is a blend of several sources and appellation re­quirements, it carries the simple “Bordeaux” appellation. (not even Bordeaux Superior”) But wait till you taste it!

Claret is a term mostly used in England. (It has a nice ring to it!) Basically it identifies a wine to be a red wine from Bordeaux. All red wines from Bordeaux are clarets… and thus, it really implies a type of wine… a specific taste of wine… and by the same reason could im­ply that any wines made from the Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec family of grapes are clarets! (naturally to the chagrin of the French, who would like to reserve the name for wines originating in France.) By usage, the term has developed into a designation for non-pedigreed Bordeaux wines. (the famous cha­teau bottlings prefer to be identi­fied and remembered by their proper names!)

If there was such a thing as a claret standard… it would be one that describes the wine as a dry, light, flavorful red wine, with the typical cabernet character showing. A wine that has ageing and com­plexing capabilities.

This 1985 version of Fonset-Lacour is a classic example of a claret in my opinion.

The wine is a brilliant purplish red. It has a peppery aroma, with fruitiness following; then, a bell pepper aroma emerges, and closes somewhat smoky. The taste is a classic light claret. The first sensa­tion is very dry, opening up into a fruity cabernet taste, then mingling with a late emerging tannin. It has a medium body, and is well bal­anced. Serve at room temperature with hamburgers or roast beef sandwiches or a “runza”.

Cellaring Notes: A couple years will soften it more.

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