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Bordeaux is a lot more than just the ‘Big Names’

Bordeaux is a lot more than just the ‘Big Names’

Having spent the last four days tasting through nearly all of Bordeaux’s main wines from the 2012 vintage -and a lot more besides- I could easily be forgiven for being a little tired! It is a physically tiring tasting with so many extremely young, tannic red wines however, my enthusiasm for Bordeaux has not tired in the slightest.Indeed seeing what this region is capable of doing in a tricky year like 2012 has only increased Bordeaux in my estimations and I am sure this is the case for many others.

From probably the 2005 vintageonwards there has been a marked improvement from top to bottom; better fruit ripeness, better balance and more purity in the wines from this vast region. However what has really impressed over the last few years is the quality of the more affordable wines.

I will follow up on the 2012 with an En Primeur report but in the meantime there is plenty of enjoyment still to be had with recent vintages. A good place to start is the 2008 vintage of which there are still some wines available. A personal favourite is the smart, modern (but elegant)Château Gironvillewhich at €17.99 (was €19.99) is very hard to beat. There is not too much of this left so I advise anyone interested in experiencing one of theregion’s over-performers to be quick and grab a bottle before it is gone for good.

Another rejuvenation to take note of is that of Château Fourcas Hosten (€24.95) the 2008 shows a marked change in form and style, richer, fuller and more complete than any earlier Fourcas. These improvementpaid off with the 2008 earning the Château a four star Decanter rating and a ‘Buy of the Vintage’ Tag.

2009 is lauded one of regions ‘best ever’ vintages and for once this is true. This was a perfect year, the weather couldn’t have been better and the wines have a generosity and voluptuousness that is hugely enjoyable. Top Bordeaux house CVBG Dourthe has had huge success over the years with theirChâteau Pey La Tour Reserve€17.99 but the 2009 is THE vintage to buy. Merlot rich and barrel matured this has the nose and palate of much more expensive wines from neighbouring communes – chiefly the St. Emilion group.

For a taste of St. Emilion itself the 2009Vieux Château des Combes(€19.99) is a gorgeous, floral Bordeaux with very pure blackberry fruit and an accent of good French oak. There is a silky texture to this wine that belies its price-point and makes this a highly pleasurable wine experience. Decant, leave for half an hour and match up with roast loin of pork or slow-braised lamb.

So take confidence in Bordeaux’s recent vintages, there are lovely wines to be found from 2008, 2009 and 2010, meanwhilethe 2011s that are just beginning to arrive and will reward cellaring for a couple more years.

Just remember to follow these two important rulesin order to enjoy Bordeaux at its best: Bordeaux is designed for food and young Bordeaux likes to breathe – so decant.

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