LONDON – While headlines may be grabbed by expensive Bordeaux, it is perfectly possible to find gems from the region, whatever your budget. Serena Sutcliffe browsed the inventory of Sotheby’s Wine store and recent auction prices and discovered an abundance of Bordeaux that appeals to both the palate and the purse.
The first thing to say is that this title is not an oxymoron! There are absolutely delicious Bordeaux wines that can be drunk with no financial pain, just lots of pleasure. The trick lies, of course, in finding them.
My sleuthing covers the last Sotheby’s auction in London, held on 16–17 July, and Sotheby’s retail wine shop and involves a certain amount of research, undertaken by willing friends and family. Just last night, over supper in the kitchen, we broached a bottle of Château du Tertre 2001, a classified fifth growth in Margaux, and found it beautifully scented, fresh and fruity. Du Tertre is a well-run estate that has benefited from considerable investment and 2001 is a most attractive vintage that was overshadowed by 2000 – the result is great value (a recent auction estimate was £260–320 per case).
Pomerols are perfection for many people (count me in), but they can rocket in price, often due to the small size of the properties. However, no one could complain about a case of Château Beauregard 1998, which fetched £423 in July, or Château Rouget 1998 (sold for £259). Both wines are immensely seductive and 1998 is a famed vintage on the Right Bank. It is perhaps for this reason that a superb 1998 fifth growth from Pauillac, on the Left Bank, seems to me to be seriously underpriced – the great, black fruit Château Grand Puy Lacoste sold for £494.
Then there are some bargains among the second wines of top crus, such as Bahans
Haut Brion, the baby brother (or is it sister?!) of fabulous Château Haut Brion. A case of the 1998, a wonderful vintage in this area of Pessac-Léognan, sold for £517 in July, a cinch for such a lovely, silky wine.
Sotheby’s Wine retail shop in New York (and online) also has a good sprinkling of delectable Bordeaux at under $30 a bottle. Let yourself be tempted by Château Maucamps 2009, full of “salty” interest (so my man behind the counter says) and Château Capbern Gasqueton 2009, a personal favourite and made by the same talented team as at Calon Ségur – need one say more? The 2009s, of course, are textbook beautiful and very “come-hither” in character – soft and luscious. Then there is the elegant Château Bernadotte 2005, a classic year that is now ready at this level.
The essential key to finding affordable Bordeaux is to think laterally. If you have not heard of the château name, it is worth trying, as the region’s winemaking has improved so much in recent years and competition among the myriad properties is so intense that standards are generally high. It is fun to be on the inside track, all the while keeping on the right side of one’s bank manager.
Sotheby’s international wine specialist Serena Sutcliffe, MW is one of the world’s leading authorities on wine.