Bordeaux enjoys a long history of satisfying wine lovers. The red wines from this region especially have defined the type of wine—full-bodied, complex, age-worthy—that people worldwide want to drink. Furthermore, the region produces oceans of wine, keeping prices reasonable.
In saying that Bordeaux still price well, of course we leave the classified growths out of consideration. Those revered estates command stratospheric prices. They also need time to develop. Revel in the good news that a great quantity of excellent quality Bordeaux remains for the taking.
The 2009 vintage adds to the good news by supplying us with ingratiating wines that can be drunk now or laid down. The outlying villages and appellations of Bordeaux, the so-called baby Bordeaux, produce delicious wines at a fraction, a small fraction, of the cost of classified estates.
Lesser known appellations like Blaye Côte de Bordeaux and Lalande du Pomerol have seen the raising of quality standards and much development in winemaking facilities. Investment in stainless steel vats and new oak barrels plus improved techniques in vineyard and cellar has produced wines consistently higher in quality than could be seen 10 or 20 years ago.
As an example of the growth of these baby Bordeaux estates, we offer Ch Haut Beyzac (Haut Médoc). An émigré American winemaker, his French wife, and her family buy a property west of St. Estephe and northwest of Pauillac. They proceed to update the vineyards and facility, and revive the estate. Haut Beyzac produces a blend of Merlot’s supple richness (60%) and Cabernet sauvignon’s complexity and structure (40%). Fermented in stainless steel, the wine ages in 30% new oak barrels, and the rest in barrels of one or two years. New oak imparts the strongest wood flavors. Using older barrels helps keep the wood tones from tilting to the extreme. A balanced and delicious wine results, with a strong appeal from each of its component grapes. With the great concentration of fruit and silky tannins typical of the vintage, the wine is ready for table or cellar.
That’s a beautiful thing about these little Bordeaux. While the great classified growths like Latour and Mouton DEMAND aging, especially in outstanding vintages like 2009, the baby Bordeaux can be consumed with pleasure while young. Despite their precocity, they boast the structure to age for 5-10 years.
Enjoy the wines below, with grilled meats, stews, or whenever you need a good red wine. Save some for your cellar to crack open over the course of the next few years. You will be surprised and delighted by the depth and complexity they will develop.
Ch.L’Ecadre (Blaye Côte de Bordeaux) $11.99
Ch. Bellevue (Lalande du Pomerol) ($15.99)
Ch. Bellevue Canterane (Haut Médoc) $16.99
Ch.Haut Médoc du Haut Beyzac $19.99
Ch. Haut-Vigneau (Pessac-Léognan) $22.99
Ch. Du Taillan (Haut Médoc) ($25.99)
2006 Ch. Larose du Gruaud $39.99
A number of great Bordeaux estates have taken to producing second wines. These astonishing values usually consist of wines made from the estate’s young vines. More immediately forthcoming than the primary wine, they show the pedigree of the estate if not quite the aging potential. Larose du Gruaud gives us a delicious taste of one of the great St Julien property, Ch. Gruaud Larose, but at far less freight than the estate’s first wine. From a fine vintage, and with some years of mellowing under it s belt, this wine is a special treat.