Bordeaux: We Still Do It Better

Feb 08, 2018

Bordeaux is a tricky place.

It’s big, spread out and full of way too many people making entirely too much wine. Piling on, the local food is spotty, downtown traffic sucks big time and parking can be more painful than a root canal.

All summer severe heat and ridiculous humidity pummel Bordeaux while wintertime skies are perpetually overcast with temperatures in the arctic range.  It’s not surprising wine buyers don’t go there often. These days they don’t have to. They have apps for that.

Plus all year long aggressive Bordeaux sales reps pepper their email contacts with an unrelenting string of “extremely rare opportunities,” short term offers and ever evolving listings. Pricing, exclusivity, terms and transport are all part of the conversation. Everyone has a lot of wine to “move” so stock is constantly mixed and remixed in response to the “needs of the market.” Bordeaux buying has become an email kind of thing for some companies, including one very well-known local one. But not at Wine Warehouse. None of our Bordeaux wines are bought like that.

When we need new wines from Bordeaux we hit the road and put in whatever windshield time it takes to run down any hot tips and make sure we meet all the hip vignerons who can help us zero in on the best wines, especially new ones with cool stories about land and family.

We feel that you have to go to Château, see vineyards and visit cellars to dial in effectively. We think it’s imperative to taste (and re-taste) wines where they were born. There’s no other way to buy Bordeaux if quality is the goal, just as there are plenty of shortcuts if it’s not.

Over the last few years up and down the west coast we’ve all seen Bordeaux become popular as an everyday wine. Attitudes and drinking habits have changed as many wine drinkers discover natural crossover points connecting comfort zone wines like California Cab and Merlot to unfamiliar but similar wines from Bordeaux.

Along the way trends like the current lower alcohol, “Euro”  wine phase resonate well in modern Bordeaux’s wheelhouse where the focus is on the production of balanced wines with good flavors made in a fresh and easy, contemporary drinking style. For merchants like us, it’s about a tidy yet true range of wines from Bordeaux orga-nized with balance and clarity. The guiding principle throughout the selection process is a good one – all the wines have to be delicious first of all, then fairly priced and in good shape.

Bordeaux_text

What About Vintages?

In Bordeaux there’s always the vintage issue and there – like everywhere else – it’s no longer cut and dried strictly based on weather factors. Even as climate change imperils more severely than ever anticipated and at a far swifter rate, in key ways, technology is allowing the tuned- in Bordeaux farmer to make the most of situations that at one time may have meant curtains. That’s pretty much the story when it comes to questionable vintages.

The good ones like 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016 simply produce outstanding wines, generally across the board. One should note, however, that 2017 is a different story. At key points the growing season was im-pacted monumentally by damaging frost and hail. While short and abundant harvests come and go in Bordeaux and affect the market in obvious and fundamental ways like pricing, this one may cause additional pressure on stocks from previous vintages.

The big picture is these days Bordeaux is at the top of its game when it comes to quality wine production. So many people are making so much good wine that we’re confident the best is yet to come. As more wine drinkers become more exposed to more delicious wines from Bordeaux, this trend will grow. We’ve got the goods to fill the pipeline at Wine Warehouse where the program is built around the lay of the land in Bordeaux.

We fish equally on right and left banks and feature both Merlot-driven and Cabernet-centric wines from mostly small family farms that we can represent exclusively in California. Included in this collection are tasty wines from the Côtes de Castillon, the village of St. Julien and the hills of Graves where both tantalizing dry whites and classic, stony reds are made. We’ve got the turf covered from St. Émilion Merlots to Médoc Cabernets to Semillon from Entre-Deux-Mers and beyond.

When you look over Wine Warehouse’s range you see a personal postcard of Bordeaux from the vineyard perspective as opposed to an image on a computer screen. It’s better that way. Cheers!

Here’s a few recommendations from our current roster of wines from Bordeaux. Most are new arrivals, all are delicious.

Chateau Saint Ahon_Cru Bourgeois_2014

Château Saint Ahon 2014

Cru Bourgeois

Château Saint Ahon is in Blanquefort in the middle of Bordeaux’s fabled Médoc peninsula. The sandy soils here are highly suitable for healthy Cabernet Sauvignon and that’s what Saint Ahon offers in spades. This oak-aged, cerebral blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot from a strong “left-bank” vintage is a big winner and it comes in six-packs!

CHATEAU BOIS PERTUIS

Château Bois Pertuis 2014

Appellation Bordeaux 

Just north of sprawling St. Émilion, there’s a large alluvial pan rich in clay and gravel that they used to call “Les Hauts.” The same farmers have lived here for centuries. Merlot loves this place too. Ch Bois Pertuis is a family-owned small estate that proves this point year after year. The 2014 release is no exception. It’s 93% juicy Merlot, 7% sturdy Cabernet Sauvignon and 100% delicious. It’s also another Wine Warehouse direct import so the price is good too!

Chateau Roc de Villepreux_ny copy

Château Roc de Villepreux 2016

Appellation Bordeaux Supérieur

For those willing to go hunting, there’s a number of exceptional wine villages in central Entre-Deux-Mers with both terrific terroir and a consistent history of producing solid wines. Saint Martin de Lerm is a village like that and Château Roc de Villepreux (three generations strong) is a good example of an estate like that. The delicious 2016 Ch Roc de Villepreux is made from fruit from the family’s twelve hectare site and is an oak-aged blend of 84% Merlot and 16% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chateau D Emerites Lalande De Pomerol 2015

Château Fleur d’Eymerits 2015

Lalande-de-Pomerol

Tiny Lalande-de-Pomerol sits just above even tinier Pomerol north of Saint Émilion. Merlot grows exceptionally well in the clay dominant gravel-based soils of this fertile area. That’s no longer a secret, so to find well-priced good wines from Lalande-de-Pomerol is a hunt and a chase. Fortunately, we’re good at both. To that point, we’re well-pleased with Château Fleur d’Eymerits effort from their one-hectare site in Lalande’s preferred north-west zone. It’s 100% Merlot and the 2015 vintage is 1000% a knock-out. Highly recommended.

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