BORDEAUX REDS under €25 Week One
The charms of Bordeaux red wines are not lost on the Irish wine drinker, writes Ernie Whalley. ‘Claret’ has long been our tipple of choice when the occasion causes for a wine de luxe. A birthday, an anniversary, the boss coming to dinner, away go the Chilean cabernet and the Aussie shiraz and in come the St.Emilion, the Pomerol, the Margaux, etc.
It’s worth remembering that Bordeaux’s blandishments are very vintage specific. Talking it through, Martin and I decided that the best advice we could dish out is “If Bordeaux’s had a bad year, go south.” Frequently a good way south, to warmer parts of Europe and to the New World.
As with pinot noir, we are splitting the results of this tasting – 38 wines in total – over three weeks. 25 of these were priced in the sub-€25 band, of which we have selected eight. Here are the first four. I’m sure it won’t escape your notice that the wines below are all from the stellar 2010 vintage.
Mademoiselle L 2010 Haut Medoc €24, The Vintry, Rathgar D6 and selected independents SILVER
EW: Beautiful wine, soft and polished yet with a well-structured tannic backbone making it ‘a keeper’. Absolutely unblemished with most of the things I’d expect from Haut Medoc in a great vintage.
MM: I could sniff this for ages with its classic Medoc aromas of graphite and black fruits. It’s still got some firm tannin so aerate it if drinking now.
Château des Laurets Puisseguin Saint-Emilion 2010 €23.99 www.mitchellandson.com SILVER
EW: More classical in style, the merlot shining through the steely cabernet. There’s a Baron Edmond de Rothschild family restraint about this well-structured, stately wine.
MM: A wine that takes itself very seriously. Quite closed and tannic at first but air softens it to reveal damson, redcurrant and floral notes. Will become more complex as it ages.
EW: Developing beautifully and thanks to the effulgent 2010 vintage, good enough to squirrel away for a year or three. Supple and quite elegant.
MM: A wine to watch under the guidance of clever winemaker Gavin Quinney with enough attractive fruit and spice to drink now and structure to age if you prefer.
Château Haut Rian 2010 Côtes de Bordeaux www.winesdirect.ie €14.50 BRONZE
EW: Good quality spicy Cabernet fruit backing up the Merlot makes this a real hit for the modest ask. Luscious, liquorice, cinnamon, cloves amid nicely resolving tannins.
MM: A basic quality level wine but a good year, 2010, means it’s punching above its weight and shows interesting floral aromas mingling with spiced plum, supple tannin and elegant acidity giving finesse.
BORDEAUX REDS UNDER €25 Week Two
The hinterland of Bordeaux, France’s fourth largest city, is the country’s largest delineated wine growing region (AOC), writes Ernie Whalley. Located in the southwest corner of France, adjacent to the Atlantic, the region benefits from the coastal maritime influence, typically enjoying wet springs, fairly gentle summers and mild winters. The Gulf Stream exerts a warming influence on the region. However, summer weather can be fickle, making for interesting issues when it comes to getting grapes to ripen. In any given decade the wines of Bordeaux personify not so much The Good, The Bad and The Ugly but The Great, The Good and The Indifferent. Well-ripened grapes represent the building blocks for the classic vintages – 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010 are examples – and wines from these vintages are crafted for the long haul. There is, however, a bonus involved in guying a vintage merely fêted as ‘good’. The wines will be more affordable and ready to drink earlier. This week we continue the ‘sub €25’ theme and here are four more recommendations from the 38 tasted.
Ch.Peychaud Maisonneuve 2006 € 20.50 Brechin Watchorn, D6 BRONZE
EW: 2006 was a vintage that started with high hopes and ended up plagued with problems. Some minor wines escaped the general mediocrity and this is one of them. Savoury and complex but just a tad short of ‘elegant’.
MM: Age has added spicy, savoury leathery notes to rich damson fruit and there’s still a rake of tannin, so give it some air to soften it.
EW: Totally typical Graves with abundant redcurrant fruit, cinnamon and clove hints and the give-away powdery ‘afterfeel’ high up on the roof of the mouth. Savvy winemaking.
MM: Very successful for a difficult year like 2007 with attractive and characteristic Graves style showing redcurrant fruit rather than black and gentle spice with a little tannin.
Ch.Mahon Laville 2010 €17.99 www.drinkstore.ie, D7 BRONZE
EW: Almost hypermodern. A massive chunk of blackcurrant and brambly ripe fruit. The thought struck – could this be the Bordeaux that could lead lovers of Chilean wine back to the source?
MM: A very modern style with shiny black fruit pastille like fruit and distinctive vanillin oak character.
Mitchells Claret 2009 €12.50 www.mitchellandson.com, IFSC and Glasthule, Co Dublin BRONZE
EW: Well made wine from a really good vintage. Decent weight of rich fruit with the tannins kept in check. Just about as good an introduction to red Bordeaux as you could get.
MM: A great vintage like 2009 means even on the lower rungs of the quality ladder you ret rich smooth plumy fruit enlivened by a dash of spice.
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