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Let's Talk About Bordeaux

Updated: Apr 8, 2020

With temperatures somewhat chilly as the winter season comes to an agonizingly slow end, there’s still time to haul out some of the older red wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy that you hopefully laid away 10 or so years ago.

If you weren’t able to set aside some treasures, you may be able to find older vintages in finer wine shops. If neither of these tactics works then we have some suggestions on currently available vintages to drink now or later.

In this column, we’ll talk about Bordeaux and follow up on the red wines of Burgundy in a subsequent column.

Red Bordeaux wines are by reputation wines that can be reliably aged in proper, temperature-controlled conditions over 10- to 20-year periods, producing beautifully complex table wines that drink especially well in colder weather and with heavier wintertime fare. They are crafted from a combination of some or all of the AOC permitted grape varieties: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, petite verdot and malbec.

Grand Cru Bordeaux are the most sought of these wines and are generally priced accordingly. However, other red Bordeaux, such as cru bourgeois wines, are also age worthy and are much more affordable.

Among the Bordeaux wines we have cellared, the 2003, 2004 and 2006 vintages are in a very good place right now and can provide a delicious tasting experience. Some of our favorites are the Chateau du Terte 2003, Chateau Giscours 2004, Chateau Lagrange 2003, Chateau Grand Puy Ducasse 2004 & 2006, Chateau Carbonnieux 2004, Chateau Brane Cantenac 2003, and Chateau Troplong Mondot 2003.

Newer vintages are much easier to source, and can also provide pleasure for wintertime fare. Both Right and Left Bank Bordeaux wines have been on a tear from 2014 to 2018 with these vintages presenting great opportunities and great drinking for consumers today. Look for Bordeaux, Bordeaux Superior, and cru bourgeois, as well as wines from the other 50 sub-appellations. Many examples are available for under $25, and some quaffable wines are even under $15.

The 2014-2018 Grand Cru wines from the 1855 classification as well as subsequent classifications in St. Emilion and Graves will be substantially more expensive ($60+) and should be stored away for at least 10 years for maximum enjoyment.

Your local fine wine shop as well as wine publications such as Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and the Wine Advocate can be a great source for recommendations from these vintages. However, there are more than 5,000 chateaus producing wine from the Bordeaux region. Our recommendations of individual chateaus are problematic because availability varies.

Nonetheless, we have enjoyed many recent bottles, including Chateau La Reine Perganson Haut Medoc 2016 ($14), Chateau Tour Haut Caussan Medoc 2016 ($25), Chateau Malescasse 2016 Cru Bourgeois ($25), Chateau Larose-Trintaudon Cru Bourgeois 2015 ($24), Axel Des Vigne Bordeaux 2016 ($15), Chateau Cambon La Pelouse Cru Bourgeois 2014 ($24), and Chateau Bellevue Castillon Cotes De Bordeaux 2015 ($15), Chateau Odilon Haut-Medoc 2015 ($35) and Chateau Pardis Casseuil Entre-Deux-Mers 2017 ($27).

As we often say there is an ocean of good wine available today, and the winemakers from Bordeaux are producing quality wine in all price categories that are readily accessible to American consumers. Happy hunting!

Powell & Son

When most people think of premium Australian wine, they may think first and only of Penfold’s Grange. But the pricey, legendary shiraz is hardly the only Australian wine that excels in quality and commands the price to prove it.

Torbreck, for one, has established a place in the country’s hall of fame. Founded by David Powell in 1994, the wines of this Barossa Valley estate were scoring awards for years until Powell had a falling out with the winery’s owner Pete Kight in 2013. Powell left the company and immediately launched a new brand with his son Callum, now 25 years old. Today, Powell & Son wines are following a similar trajectory of winning awards and spinning heads with dizzying prices.

We had the opportunity to taste the recent releases and can attest to the 91-99 point scores they are getting. Made from grapes grown on vines more than 100 years old, the 2015 Kraehe Shiraz and the 2015 Steinert Shiraz are two of the most dense, complex shirazes we’ve tasted but you’ll need $623 to buy one. More reasonable in price is the 2015 Powell & Son GSM (grenache, syrah, mourvedre) that sells for $58 or the Riverside GSM for $21.

Powell doesn’t own any vineyards – he was able to win over the owners of vineyards who once sold to Torbreck. Call it poetic justice. Powell farms nearly all of the vineyards himself. He also uses old concrete ferment vats and basket pressing – a unique form of winemaking that obviously works well for him.

Wine picks

  • Murphy-Goode Cabernet Sauvignon California 2017 ($15). Murphy-Goode is another member of the Jackson Family Wines and reflects a commitment to quality. A complex wine for the price with cherry, herbal and mocha notes.

  • Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast 2016 ($22). This ready-to-drink, bright, fruity cabernet sauvignon is made from 80 percent cabernet sauvignon along with a smattering of merlot, petite verdot, and cabernet franc. Luscious and smooth with cherry, berry and mocha notes.

  • Marina Cvetic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva 2016 ($30). This is a premium version of Masciarelli’s wildly popular Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo. Made from grapes from Masciarelli’s top parcels this wine exhibits rich and round flavors with plum and spice notes. Pair with robust red meat dishes.

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