Château Magdeleine Bouhou Boha 2011
Although sometimes I wonder about the wisdom of choosing to cover Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, two regions with many similarities (believe it or not) but also many stark and striking differences, the ability to flip from one region to the other keeps my mind and taste buds on their toes. After visiting two major Loire-themed salons during the last two weeks, there was nothing I wanted to do more than pull the cork on something a little more Girondin than Ligérian.
It would be easy to pull some aging cru classé wine from the cellar, but I continue to try and uncover wines both more affordable and more interesting, from off the beaten Bordeaux track. Boha, from Château Magdeleine Bouhou, fits the bill. I first met the wines of this estate when tasting through the portfolio of Stéphane Derenoncourt, who has consulted here since the 2010 vintage. Proprietor Muriel Rousseau-Revaire makes a grand vin of very good quality, a selection from the most highly regarded parcels which represents perhaps half of the domaine's output. Much of what remains has long gone into an entry-level Cuvée Tradition, but this latter wine has been replaced by Boha.
The name Boha is a nod to the winds which come up the Gironde estuary and which blow over the Magdeleine Bouhou estate. Indeed bouhou comes from an old Gascon word meaning to blow, while the boha is an old musical instrument, the cornemuse landaise, a type of bagpipe native to the Landes départmente in old Gascony. It is a blend of 80% Merlot with 10% Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon planted on sandy soils, all sourced from vines aged at least 30 years, tended along the lines of agriculture raisonnée. The soils are worked rather than treated with herbicides, and sown with winter cereals for green fertiliser.
After picking and sorting by hand and eye the fruit for the 2011 Boha was fermented on a parcel-by-parcel basis, in small cement vats, followed by élevage in same, with no use of wood at all. In the glass the wine has a dark, dusty, matt-claret hue. The nose shows some charming fruit, all dark cherry laced with notes of smoky charcoal, quite savoury, with a little dark chocolate on the side. The palate has a lovely cool and bitter-cherry character, with the dry and savoury bite of high-percentage dark chocolate mirroring the wine's aromatic profile. The texture is soft, fruit-driven, but the bitter cherry fruit and acidity gives it an appealing sense of freshness. It has life and vigour, but not masses of structure, and a short but attractive, savoury finish. This is a wine that majors on fun fruit, acid freshness and purity of flavour; it would work well drunk alone, as a aperitif, or at the dinner table with casual dining. Move over, vin de soif from the Loire Valley; we have a delicious alternative from Bordeaux on our hands. 15.5/20 (20/2/17)