Five Bottles Of Bordeaux To Buy (And Drink) Right Now
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey. Photograph by Deepix. Courtesy of Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey
Why bordeaux is back – and the bottles of wine that you really need to try and invest in.
For those not in the know, bordeaux has been seen for some time as the kind of wine drunk only in the leather-clad dining rooms of stuffy gentlemen’s clubs, or proffered by your boorish father-in-law at Christmas. It has been viewed as old-fashioned, or even elitist. However, oenophiles are delighted to see that France’s largest wine-growing area is becoming fashionable once again. Recognising the quality of its elegant, full-bodied and distinguished reds, and fresh, crisp whites, and their versatility with food, Bordeaux is back on the consumer’s map.
Master sommelier Mr Xavier Rousset of London’s Blandford Comptoir recently commented to me: “We are seeing more and more customers reconnecting with the region.” Furthermore, for the past two years, the Liv-ex Power 100 – the wine trade’s most comprehensive and revealing annual report – has shown that bordeaux has regained its position as the big hitter. In 2017, of the top 20 most powerful wine brands, no fewer than 18 are estates in Bordeaux. In my work as marketing manager for Wine Source, a global wine services company, I hear clients increasingly request bordeaux to buy and drink. And it is good value. You can pick up an excellent case of mature bordeaux for £1,000, while the same money would get you only a handful of bottles of a similar quality from the other great French wine region, Burgundy. Here are five of the best bottles of bordeaux to buy and drink now.
2015 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey
Femme et Raisins, Grand Vin Blanc Sec£42; £504 for a case of 12
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey is an estate with a long history and pedigree. Its sweet wines are noted as Premier Grand Cru Classé (First Growth) – the very rare top-quality level – in the 1855 classification of Bordeaux’s Médoc wine estates (made at the request of Emperor Napoleon III). Today, the château is owned by Mr Silvio Denz: Swiss entrepreneur, collector of fine wine and art, and owner of luxury crystal-ware company Lalique. The bottle for this wine has an art nouveau Lalique design of a woman with grapes – “Femme et Raisins” – which gives it a striking, contemporary feel, the perfect match for the deliciously crisp, elegant dry white wine within. Compared with similar styles of wine, such as sancerre or pouilly fumé, dry white bordeaux such as this offers more interesting flavours and pleasing richness and complexity, for a similar price.
1999 Château Palmer Grand Cru Classé
Margaux£282; £1,692 for a case of 6
Château Palmer produces some of the best wines ever made in Bordeaux. It is an iconic, highly regarded estate, which is second only to its famed neighbour, the 1855 classified First Growth Château Margaux. It has a unique terroir (micro-environment) comprising exceptional gravel soils and a higher proportion of merlot vines, producing wines of wonderful richness, charm and longevity, and setting it apart from its rivals. Mr Tom Bird, private client director of Wine Source and formerly of Corney & Barrow, says, “The 1999 Château Palmer was one of the stars of its vintage; it is drinking beautifully now.” This wine is a timeless classic, deserving of a place in your cellar.
2006 Château Montviel
Pomerol£40; £480 for a case of 12
Château Montviel has undergone extensive modernisation in recent years: everything from the winery to the style of wine-making has been updated by the owners, who see Pomerol, on the right bank of Bordeaux, as “a jewel”. This is a bottle that looks classic and punches well above its price tag, with its intense sweet, smoky fruit flavours, savoury spice notes, and beautiful balance, freshness and elegance. 2006 was the kind of vintage that was not lauded generally, but it was nonetheless a year when the best properties made excellent wines. This wine is an underrated gem and is now drinking perfectly: great timing with the resurgence in popularity of bordeaux.
2006 Château Cheval Blanc
Saint-Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé A£462; £2,772 for a case of 6
This revered château was founded in 1832, and was a family-owned estate until it became part of the LVMH Group – alongside luxury brands such as Krug, Dom Pérignon and Belvedere – in 1998. Its director Mr Pierre Lurton is one of the most talented and well-respected winemakers in the whole of Bordeaux. The cellar is a state-of-the-art winemaking facility designed by famed French architect Mr Christian de Portzamparc. What makes this property stand out is its higher proportion of vines growing cabernet franc, a grape variety described by Ms Jancis Robinson in her book Wine Grapes as “charming, subtly fragrant and gently flirtatious”, giving the resulting wine a grace, freshness and ethereal quality. Mr Bird notes, “Cheval’s 2006 falls a little under the radar following, as did their legendary 2005, but I’d mark this wine only a short neck behind in terms of complexity and longevity. And at almost half the price of said 2005, the 2006 is the smarter buy.”
2012 Château Quinault L’Enclos
Saint-Emilion Grand Cru£36; £216 for a case of 6
2012 was the year that this beautiful estate was classified as Grand Cru Classé – a quality rating bestowed in Saint-Emilion following rigorous tastings and assessments of each estate. Quinault L’Enclos is under the same ownership as Château Cheval Blanc, and the Cheval Blanc technical team makes the wine, meaning this bottle represents superb value for the considerable expertise that has created it. The vines at this estate are notably old, averaging 50 years, giving this wine delicious richness and fruit sweetness, without making it heavy. With silken tannins and juicy, fresh ripeness, this wine is wonderful now, and will keep for another 10 years.