2003 Bel-Air Ortet: In the quest for a reasonable Bordeaux for under $30 this is a great value. It is a little light but has a great nose of oak and hay and is fairly complex on the pallet. This wine got considerably better after it opened and was a great companion to steak.
2001 Clerc Milon: This wine is from the Mouton Rotschild family of wines and you can taste the subtle elegance of it’s pricer sibling. It has a beautiful nose with big fruit and soft barnyard and is a good buy in the under $60 range.
2001 Les Tourelles de Longueville: This is the second wine of Ch. Pichon Longueville and is a great example of a second wine that is a good value. Typical of the vintage it is a little light, but good smoke, and mushroom are combined with black fruits that linger on the pallet.
2005 Des Eyrins: – A B&B’s French Wine Club selection from last year, I opened a bottle to see how it is tasting young. At this point it is a great California wine, but in ten years it will be a terrific Bordeaux. By this I meant that there is plenty of big fruit here, but also good structure and tannins that will develop over time and make this a blockbuster. Wine Club members note – don’t open this until 2015!
1996 & 1998 Chateau Leoville Poyferre: This was a classic vertical match up between two wines from the same producer in different vintages. A friend came for dinner and brought the ’98 covered up so I couldn’t see the label. I smelled the bouquet and said that it had all the elements of a great Bordeaux but on the pallet it was thin and while all the elements were still there, it dissipated from my pallet quickly. I had the 1996 of this in my cellar so we opened it also to make the comparison. The ’96 had a very similar nose, but on the pallet it was quite different. The ’96 was big and dense with great complexity and depth that lingered on your tongue. It was a true WOW! One of the keys to buying quality wine is to know the quality of the vintage of the wine you are buying. The great vintages in Bordeaux are 1961, 1982, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2003 and 2005. The vintages to avoid are 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1997. The other vintages are ok, but you must be selective as they vary from one chateau to another.
1998 Tourbrec: On the same evening my friend also brought over this very interesting wine from the Barossa Valley made of 92% Shiraz and 8% Viognier. It took a while to open up, but when it did, it was reminiscent of a great Chateauneuf du Pape from the Rhone region of France. It had lovely fruit and spice that lingered and lingered on my pallet – an exceptional wine, that everyone really loved.
2005 Mouton Cadet: OK, for those of you looking for something that can be your “glass of wine every night” that won’t break the bank or cause you to gag, this inexpensive claret is just the thing. At about $7 a bottle it is entirely likable and pleasant. It won’t blow you away, but it also won’t kill your budget.