BORDEAUX, WOO, WOO
The nattily attired businessman in London and New York had the same feeling in the 1980’s about the great vintages of the wines of Bordeaux that the Aztec emperor Ahuitzotl felt while drinking sacred cocoa in 1487 while standing atop the Great Temple Pyramid of Tenochtitlan. Pure elation. Nothing for the bespoke business moguls quite beats pouring and genuflecting over bottles of famed chateaus like La Mission Haut Brion ( 1982 at $1,259 or the 1955 at $2,495 per bottle), while the crowd below bursts into applause.
By the year 2000 the New York somms had pretty much replaced Bordeaux (nick named Bore-dough) with sexy newly discovered, barely pronounceable, new grapes like treixudura , nero mascalese and trousseau, to name but a few. Somewhere in the middle of this tale lies the true reality.
Bordeaux in South West France is comprised of over 200,000 acres of vineyard, mostly cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc grapes. Their claim to fame are red wines from over 7,000 chateau- some grand, many not so much. Eighty percent of Bordeaux ranges from $10.00-$35.00 per bottle. Vintages are a reality based on climate at harvest and the juggling of three grapes at different ripening times. And…Bordeaux is, and always has been, even back to 1487, a commercial place that sells wine. The words “vintage of the century” spill from the mouths of the locals as you empty your wallet.
“The cycle goes something like this. A reasonable harvest follows a poor year in Bordeaux. One or two not disinterested parties tell a few gullible journalists that it is the vintage of the decade. Excitement mounts. The next year becomes the vintage of the century and demand goes mad. Prices double.” Simon Loftus. Always be wary if you are prepared to spend the big bucks and decide to become a collector. Hint: the 2010 and 2015 vintages are the view from the temple.
Then there is food: Burgers and fries, tacos with some fresh made chips and high quality ground beef, don’t forget the salsa . Or, if you are a vegetarian, you can grill up some veggies like kale or zucchini and the wine will be just fine. The basic Bordeaux is a great place to start. Beginners Bordeaux: Chateau de Seguin, Bordeaux Superieur, 2015, $12.00-$15.00. Wines with higher tannin in the grape skins (think tea) equals pondering and aging. In this case there is that famous hint of cedar. Open it, pour it, enjoy it. A bit less fruity than a California red, but that is what Bordeaux is. It should taste like a place.
Ch. Roudier, Montagne St. Emilion, 2012, $15.00. We move to Bordeaux merlot land with this wine. It is delicious. Merlot based wines are perfect with Asian dishes and sauces. These wines always need a little air to open up. No pretension here, just pour it into a pitcher and serve at cool room temperature. No special glasses needed. Buy two bottles.
There are 23,000 acres of these delicious wines from this part of Bordeaux, many are priced at below $20.00.
Chateau Tayac, Margaux, 2015 $25.00. We are moving up a zip code in quality. Like buying a house Bordeaux is location, location, location and you get to pay for it. This is bold and tannic. Buy a decanter, or aerator if you are going to get into these wines. Also, a cellar. Go out and buy a cellar right now. No, wait, there are these wine fridges that do all of that for you. You will see with the Chateau Tayac why people do all of these crazy wine gyrations, and you are only out $25.00 bucks. This is bold rib eye material, as well as lamb, pheasant and duck. Open for an hour.
Just down the street is this awesome house that has a better view, address, bedrooms and more square feet. This is Chateau Brane Cantenac, Margaux, 2014, $50.00. Want to see why things are priced the way they are- put them side by side. No, wait. This one needs to be opened for from 2 to 3 hours to strut it’s stuff. This is why you spent the extra money on the new house. For all that cedar and graphite covering the walls (of your mouth). The new house simply has more elegance and character. The more flavor that you buy in the glass, the better quality of the food. Quality food, quality wine. You can rest this one for from 10-15 years.
Take the plunge, Bordeaux is experiencing an exciting time of its life on all levels. Global competition is peeking into their window, looking at how they do things, their tech. and plantings. They are getting better. This is not your grandmother’s wine- it is getting closer to that view from the top of the Great Temple Pyramid of Tenochtitlan- woo woo.