Offers for Bordeaux 2011 are now closing or closed. Did you notice? The ‘campaign’ to sell the Bordeaux 2011 vintage is a candidate for the most disastrous ever. How such a normally savvy region can get it quite so wrong is hard to grasp, but the Greek word hubris comes to mind. With a unique system known as the place, all the donkey work of selling is done by the city’s merchants, so the châteaux don’t have to get their hands dirty. But the châteaux do the pricing and they came unstuck this time round thanks to overpricing a little better than modest vintage.
Bordeaux still thinks of itself as the centre of the fine wine universe perhaps because collectors and investors around the globe are prepared to pay top dollar, yen and yuan for a tiny handful of its top wines, which some will drink and others use as status symbols or investment vehicles. But the Chinese collectors failed to matierialise this year. It’s also the case that 2011 was preceded by two great vintages and even though the top 2009s and 2010s need time, the underlings are starting to look approachable.
The 2009 Château Barreyres, £11.49, Sainsbury's is a stylishly youthful claret from the Haut-Médoc with plentiful, rich blackcurrant and black cherry fruit lightly fringed with the fresh leafiness of cabernet sauvignon and the cedary / coffee-like tones of new oak . Berry’s 2009 Pomerol, £19.95, Berry Bros. (08002802440) is a wine from Château Feytit-Clinet with the opulent sweet cherry aromas of the merlot grape and a generously succulent core of cherry fruit to it too.
Although still in the first flush of primary youth, the 2009 Château Cambon La Pelouse, £18.99, Sainsbury's is another cedary claret with a polished core of cassis fruit bordered by a lick of vanilla oak. 2009s like these tend to be on the precocious side still, so if your taste is for the more mature, the 2008 Clos des Quatre Vents Villa des Quatre Soeurs, £17.28, Justerini & Brooks (02074846400), is a bright, fragrantly aromatic modern claret with vanilla undertones and juicy medium-bodied mulberry fruit.
I like the texture tpp of the 2006 Château Valrose, Cuvée Aliénor, Saint Estèphe £19.99, Tesco (114 stores), which combines the merlot grape with the duo of cabernet sauvignon and franc in a succulent red that’s nicely à point. Equally the 2005 Ségla, the second wine of cru classé Château Rauzan-Ségla, £32, Berry Bros, is full of vivid cherry and cassis with the pedigree of the classed growth showing in its stylish make-up. If that’s too young still, don’t hesitate to wind the clock back still further to a mature, cedary and utterly delicious 2004 Château Prieuré Lichine Margaux , £35, The Wine Society (01438 741177).
Something For The Weekend 11 August
2011 Spanish Steps Toro
The reds of Toro can be as muscular as their bull-like name suggests but this pure tempranillo is youthfully full of ripe strawberry fruit and a juicy, robust freshness that makes it ideal for the barbecue, lamb especially. £6.99, Sainsbury’s.
2010 Domaine Gérard Thomas St Aubin 'Le Champ Tirant'
A stylish addition to the Co-op’s fine wine range, the spicy oak aromas of this rich, full-flavoured white Burgundy lead you into a full-flavoured mouthful of chardonnay with a creaminess of texture and deliciously nutty aftertaste. £13.99, The Co-operative.
2010 Penfolds Bin 138, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Vivid, sweetly spiced in aroma, this is an Australian answer to the southern Rhône, a blend of grenache, shiraz and mourvèdre with a toasty oak veneer over blackberryish fruit etched with juicy acidity. £14.49, Tesco (114 stores).