Every year in September, Jason and I pick up our copy of the Bordeaux release booklet. We tag the pages and circle ones that we are interested in… The BC liquor store system allows us to get at excess to some decent variety of some of the best wines in the world. You may have even better selections where you live!
Before I go any further, let me explain why Bordeaux is so special. Critics would say that there are a lot of mediocre winds and high prices. But what they may not tell you is that the most earth shattering, are inspiring were winds in the world come from this amazing place.
On our honeymoon, Jason and I had a chance to visit many first, second and third growth wineries. We will never be able to afford these wines… But let me tell you, there is a reason that Château d’Yquem is the top winery in the world. Many of the first growth and second growth produce winds of infinite character and incredible finish. I credit those tastings as the foundation of developing my own wine palette. I think it forever changed my perception of what truly is “great wine. ”
Back to the October release. Some years, we afford ourselves a few investment bottles. Some years, we can’t afford anything. Unfortunately, last year was one of those years, and it was one of the best Bordeaux vintages on record. Domage!
This year, we are particularly not in the position to buy wine. But that doesn’t stop us coming through the release catalog and picking our favorites.
As a public service to all of those in British Columbia, let me highlight my favourite picks from your local liquor stores. Of course, you may be less price driven and want to invest in some more expensive bottles to stowaway. But I love finding value in Bordeaux.
The quotes are from the BC Liquor store website.
First is the budget version of d’Yquem. Chateau Doisy-Vedrines.
95 pts, Wine Spectator $60
Pure, with piercing persimmon, pineapple, white peach and quince flavors. Gorgeous floral notes of honeysuckle and orange blossom form the backdrop, while a heather accent caresses the finish. Overwhelmingly pure in the end, with a finish that sails on and on. Best from 2016 through 2035.
This beautiful little lot of land is one of the ones that we drove through when we were in Sauternes. There is a reason there is a bottle limit… Anyway you slice it, this is spectacular value for wine. If you don’t no when we would drink sweet dessert wine, don’t worry about the occasion. This will last forever, and you can easily have it with a piece of blue cheese, some pate, or just savoring on it’s own in an evening.
Next is Clos Floridene, from Graves.
90 pts, Wine Spectator $35
Very solid, with an energetic tarry edge around a core of steeped plum, blood orange and raspberry fruit. Bright floral and iron hints fill the finish, showing sleek acidity. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Best from 2015 through 2019.
Graves is a lesser known region of Bordeaux, but it includes some of the most value-laden budget wines from the region. Just like Sauternes, it is west of the Graonne River, and was named for the gravelly soils the vines grow in. I personally love the overgrown, medieval look of the farms and old castles in this area. Wines from this area typically are Cabernet based, and age well.
Across two rivers and north of the Dordogne River, you will find Chateau Fonteil, from Fronsac
89 pts, Wine Advocate $39
From the husband and wife oenologist team of Michel and Dany Rolland, this blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits dark black raspberry and graphite notes intermixed with hints of licorice and blueberries, medium to full-bodied flavors, excellent depth and texture, sweet tannin and adequate acidity. As always, Fontenil is one of the stars of Fronsac in 2011 with the winemaking skills of its owners well-presented. This beautifully crafted, high-class effort needs another year or so to resolve its tannins, and it can be drunk over the next 10+ years.
I haven’t been to Fronsac, because it was just emerging as a wine region ten years ago, when we were there on our honeymoon. Quite a few of the big wine houses are investing in this region, which is producing better and better wine. I love right bank wines, which are more feminine (it’s all the merlot and cab franc) and this bottle promises a lovely glass.
I hope these few suggestions temp you to check out Bordeaux, maybe for the first time!