Just over two weeks have gone by since the first release of Bordeaux 2010, and we now have a lucky 13 wines released, including the first couple of Sauternes. Interest in the vintage seems to keep on powering up, and as we wait for the big names to start releasing their prices, now seems a good time to have a look at the end of the Bordeaux spectrum that does not concern itself with speculative investment and still represents an excellent option for anyone who wants to dedicate part of their cellar to elegant wines delivering good value for money; the sort of wine that doesn’t need any more reason to celebrate than a good mid-week lamb chop or rib-eye steak.
This is where the Cru Bourgeois come in, such as Château Tour-St-Bonnet (which I remember fondly as a Majestic favourite from my days as a store manager – inflation seems to have had little effect on this wine, at £80.00 for 12 in bond), or Château La Tour de By, an excellent Cru Bourgeois Supérieur from the Médoc at £108.00 for 12 in bond. Pleasingly perfumed in the glass, the palate displays dense and concentrated fruit core, balanced by fine-grained tannins and a seam of mineral freshness.
Cru Bourgeois have existed since 1932 but have officially been recognised by EU labelling laws since 1979. Designed to classify the “best from the rest” below the classed growths, it spans a huge array of different levels of quality. The top estates, however, can be much finer than under-performing classed growths, and this is clearly a category that can reward consideration, offering as it does some of the best value for money in Bordeaux.
From the other side of the region in Pomerol, the 2010 Château Chantalouette with its appealing fresh and juicy character really is a crowd-pleasing, soft and seductive Pomerol. At £159 for 12 in bond it is priced very keenly for a Pomerol.
Finally La Tour Blanche, one of the stars of Sauternes, produced a stunning wine in 2010. From a blend of 83% Sémillon, 16% Sauvignon Blanc and 1% Muscadelle, it has a beguilingly fresh perfume, full of delicate florality, followed by an intensely rich yet clean palate of butterscotch, wild honey and zesty citrus – one of the stars of the tasting and a stunner at £225.00 for 6 in bond. It may even have enough acidity to cope superbly with rich lemon pie – should one feel in the mood for a little indulgence!