Insider Tips on Buying Bordeaux

The best Bordeaux tasted recently is the 2015 Chateau Corbin from Montagne St. Emilion. So good I bought another, and if I published scores, it would get a 92-93.

Oh, and the price was $12.95 at Trader Joe’s.

No, this wasn’t a total surprise.  I lived part-time in Bordeaux from 2000-2010, return frequently, and tasted many wines when there last September-early October.

The fact is that there has never been a better time in recent memory to check out and stock up on Bordeaux red wines. And not just the famous, high-priced stuff; you can find authentic, beautiful Bordeaux for under $25.

Here are five reasons why every red wine lover should be focusing on Bordeaux now for good wines at great prices. We are also offering five buying tips to help you stay focused on value.

Recent vintages, 2014 and 2015, are of consistent high quality across the board, from the least expensive appellations to the fabled names.

The strong dollar versus the Euro (thanks Brexit) is playing to our advantage. (And, no Donald, you cant take credit for that.)

Bordeaux needs to be reasonably priced  to regain its market share after 3 mediocre vintages (2011, 2012, & 2013) that allowed Cabernet and Merlot from California, Washington, and South America to come on strong. Actually, 2012 wasn’t that bad.

Now that China’s brief romance with high-priced, legendary chateaux is over, Bordeaux winemakers have experienced the wake-up call, come back down to earth and are re-focusing efforts on making the best Bordeaux wines which feature balance, subtlety, harmony, and elegance.

The 2016 vintage, still in oak is being touted at greater than 2015, and the pressure of a third consecutive fine vintage will motivate the wine trade to bomb out the remaining 2014s to make room for the 2015s.

So how to take advantage of the present situation?

First, get re-acquainted with how things work in Bordeaux. A quick review would be helpful to get a feel for the interplay of multiple grape varieties, the existence of numerous sub-regions and tiny appellations, and the background of the classification systems.

Hint: go to www.winesearcher.com, click on France and then on Bordeaux. Or for a shorter review, go to http://www.wine.com.

Then, ram dump the stuff about the 1855 Classification and the St. Emilion classification system. And don’t pay too much attention to the high scores and hype from Parker and The Wine Spectator.

To me, James Suckling and The Wine Enthusiast Magazine are much more reliable, if you need a guide.

Third, understand that vintage ratings are all weather-related. Bordeaux is a large region but the weather conditions are generally shared in all. When the spring weather favors a good crop, and when the summer weeks are dry and warm but not too hot, and when the harvest conditions are favorable, these conditions hold true for the entire region.

Fourth, therefore, in good to excellent vintages, like 2014 and 2015, look to less prestigious appellations which enjoy the same conditions. They often are the neighbors of a famous chateau. In St. Emilion, for example, check out wines from Montagne St. Emilion or from Castillon which is on the eastern slope as you head out of St. Emilion.

Fifth, in these less prestigious appellations, look for wines made by a real chateau-owner. Wines from co-ops and private labels from negociants are less likely to offer authentic Bordeaux.

Best Bordeaux Buys at www.wine.com

2014 Chateau Cap de Faugeres, Castillon $16.99

2014 Chateau Clement Pichon, Haut Medoc $19.99

2014 Chateau de France, Pessac-Leognan  $24.99

2015 Chateau Fourcas Dupre, Listrac-Medoc, $15.99

2015 Chateau Lanessan, Haut Medoc, $16.99

Best Buys from www.getwineonline.com

2014 Chateau de Parenchere Bordeaux Superieur, $13.99

2014 Chateau Hyot Cotes de Castillon $13.99

One from http://www.wineexpress.com

2014 Chateau La Grange Clinet Grande Reserve, Cotes de Bordeaux

14.95 by the case

Author: robywine, norm roby

My career as a wine journalist/critic began in 1975 when my article about California Petite Sirah was published. My focus remained on California as I edited a monthly wine magazine and then moved on to The Wine Spectator in 1981. Over the following years, my column appeared under the banner of “Stormin’ Norman, and I also wrote articles about wine collectors and wine auctions. Without getting into a year by year bio, let me try to summarize here. During my time with The Spectator which I enjoyed immensely, I taught wine classes at a culinary school and at other venues in San Francisco. Before venturing into wine, teaching was my thing, English Lit and Rhetoric. After The Spectator I was the U.S. Contributor to Decanter Magazine, writing mostly about California, but also expanding into Washington State and Oregon. My Decanter years began in 1992 and after buying a summer home in France in 2000, I traveled throughout France and eventually published articles about St. Emilion, Castillon, Bergerac, Minervois, Roussillon, Luberon, Provence, and Alsace. Also, around 2000, my wife began working for Cousino-Macul in Chile, so we tasted and traveled our way through Chile and, of course, managed to fly over the Andes and explore and taste our way through Argentina. As travel lovers, we have also spent many interesting days visiting the wine regions of Spain, Italy, Portugal, Sicily, Greece, and New Zealand. And to come to a close, I was Director of a Charity Wine Auction for 20 years, 1992-2000 that benefitted a local hospital. That brought me in contact with wine collectors and to the auction scene. And finally, I co-authored a book, The Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine published by Alfred A. Knopf. It went through 4 editions and sold over 500.000 copies.

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