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Juicy, plump merlot fruit and soft tannins combine in a very friendly Bordeaux red for drinking young for its bags of chocolatey charm.
Product Code: CB5951
If the word Bordeaux is mentioned most people take it to refer to red wine. Though a good deal of white wine is made in Bordeaux, and some of the finest white Bordeaux are only entitled to that generic appellation contrôlée nomenclature, it is reds that are most associated with the region.The Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur regional appellation contrôlées are spread throughout the Bordeaux region. A bright colour, a clean, deep, appealing red-fruit nose (with hints of vanilla and spice if the wines have been aged in oak) and the classic balance of alcohol, tannin and acidity are the hallmarks. These modest designations verify that the wine comes from a particular region and conforms to certain criteria, such as alcohol content, but cannot be relied upon as a guarantee of quality. Many good wines are made in little-known appellations, just as mediocre bottles can have grand origins, so the key is to follow a property or grower you like and trust.The climate of Bordeaux is deeply influenced by its proximity to water, whether it is the sea, the estuary or the rivers, all have a major impact on the grapes grown and the wine made with them. The maritime climate is mild and gently warmed by the Gulf Stream which has a ready conduit deep inland via the Gironde estuary. The estuary acts as a moderator of the extremes of winter and summer. Summers are generally hot and autumns fairly long and mild. Winter and spring too are relatively mild but also often wet, and overall, give or take the odd and very rare major weather event, the climate is generally stable and consistent. Dampness is indeed on of the major difficulties of wine production and it is no coincidence that the anti-fungal spray ‘Bordeaux Mixture’ was developed here in the 19th century. In terms of weather events the two that are often encountered, sometimes with devastating effects, are hail and frost. Bear in mind that Bordeaux lies on a latitude of 45 degrees and should you travel across the Atlantic on that latitude you would make landfall in Nova Scotia. Without the Gulf Stream and proximity to bodies of water Bordeaux would be a much more marginal climate for making wine.Red wines are the biggest part of the wine production of Bordeaux. Some 55,000 hectares of vines are employed in the making of Bordeaux AC and Bordeaux Supérieur AC. The most planted red grape is merlot, followed by cabernet sauvignon. Most of these generic Bordeaux are made outside of more specific communes, and indeed may be made from grapes grown anywhere in the Bordeaux region, and it would be strange indeed, in commercial terms, if a grower could label his wine as something more prestigious but chose the Bordeaux AC for his bottles. The Entre-Deux-Mers region, between the Dordogne and Garonne rivers, is home to much of the production of generic Bordeaux on its clay, or sand and clay soils with occasional outcrops of limestone and gravels.However, there are regulations and strictures that must be adhered to. To qualify for Bordeaux AC status the wine must naturally achieve 10% abv, and for Supérieur status the requirement is 10.5%. In actual fact the majority of wines are between 11% and 12.5 % abv, and as the climate warms up and vine canopy management and vineyard techniques continue to improve this may rise. Most reds from these appellations are designed to be drunk young.At this level some of the fruit is machine harvested, though much is still picked by hand because of the narrow row width of most Bordeaux vineyards, and the winemaking is fairly standard, with temperature control now the norm and chaptalisation less common than it used to be. Barrels are not often used for these wines due to their expense, though large wooden vats or hand me down barrels previously used by a wealthier producer might be utilised. Such second-hand barrels require great care to be taken to maintain them.Co-operatives still make most of these generic bottlings, but there are many smaller estates, many of them conscientious and making excellent wines that represent terrific value, that are finding the going tough in the prevailing economic climate and in the face of stiff competition at their price point from wines made in places where conditions and costs are more propitious for making fruity affordable wines. Négociants operate within Bordeaux and a good deal of the wine or grapes that make generic Bordeaux pass through the hands of companies like Maison Sichel and Dourthe.
Unusual circumstances. Unusual solutions. Visits to Bordeaux at harvest time by our Bordeaux buyer Tim Sykes showed him the potential of 2019 clarets, which carefully organised tastings in spring 2020 bore out with some wonderful wines. What’s more, the extraordinary circumstances of lockdown in 2020 made some châteaux offer much reduced prices. Two compelling reasons for regarding the vintage well as a buyer and drinker. The 2019 Bordeaux vintage is unquestionably very good indeed, and for châteaux with their vines in the best terroirs, potentially excellent. Weather conditions overall were hot and dry, but the remarkable characteristic of the vintage is that the wines (both reds and white) have maintained freshness, with lovely cool, lifted fruit character. And whilst alcohol levels are above average for the past few years there is little evidence of this in the glass, thanks to a seam of fresh acidity running through the wines. Balance is the key to a great wine and the 2019s are harmoniously balanced.Tim Sykes made two trips to Bordeaux last year during the harvest, once towards the end of September to visit the right bank appellations of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol, and then again during the second week of October for the Médoc, Graves and Sauternes. Both visits revealed an abundance of small, healthy grapes arriving at the cellar doors.In normal years Tim would make two subsequent week-long trips to Bordeaux in April to taste the new vintage, but as we all know 2020 was not a normal year. Having been forced to cancel his trips he, like Bordeaux buyers around the world, was unable to visit individual châteaux to taste barrel samples of the 2019 vintage in the normal way, so instead he was sent, and tasted, dozens of samples here in the UK. Whilst this is not the same as tasting ‘sur place’, it enabled him to form an opinion of the individual wines and develop a clear overall picture of the style and quality of the vintage. The 2019 growing season was not straightforward, and vineyard managers needed to be vigilant, but those who kept on top of things were rewarded with a fine and sizeable crop. In the winery, low-temperature fermentations and gentle extractions were the keys to producing attractively balanced wines.
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The Guardian 12th Sep 2020
"Rich, dark, damsony
red. Would suit rustic south-west French food. - Fiona Beckett "
"No wonder this well balanced right bank Claret has sold out "
Mr Hugh G Beevor (28-May-2020)
"For the money outstanding . Whilst I know that Wine Society members are very discriminating if you compare this to many of the Supermarket offerings at the same price this is outstanding. "
Mr Tony King (26-Apr-2020)
Mr Richard Simon (12-Mar-2020)
"Quite inky in the glass with a fairly austere but not unappealing nose. Medium bodied and quite fruity on the palate with dark fruit flavours. Tannins are well smoothed out but still sufficient to give balance. Finish is similar. All in all a very pleasant experience that I would cheerfully repeat."
Mr John Lay (08-Mar-2020)
"A hit round our table."
Mr Piers Beckley (07-Mar-2020)
"It's okay but a little rough round the edges for my taste. Also, it threw a small deposit. Not a big deal for many but in my sub-tenner wines I like to open, pour, enjoy with no faffing around with decanters.
My advice is pay £2 more for the Ch. Monconseil Gazin. I'm sure there are lots more WS clarets at around £10 but I've yet to have a better one."
Mr Johnny Holmes (02-Mar-2020)
"Exactly as per Tim Sykes description, pull the cork and the right bank is on the nose, wonderful. A Merlot dominant claret, but still on the dry side, not too fleshy. At its price a real everyday treat, in fact rather better than that. I will buy again if available. "
Mr David A Howell (21-Feb-2020)
"The third bottle in the 2018 drink now half case and for less than £1 a bottle more a step up in quality (in my opinion) a smooth, tasty and very pleasing claret. I would definitely reorder this one 7/10"
Mr David Welland (15-Dec-2019)
"Moderate length. Rather light body. I prefer Château Lamothe Saint Germain, Bordeaux 2017 at £6.95"
Dr Martyn Thomas (26-Nov-2019)
"very well composed and charming wine.
Delicious now. I reckon it has enough structure to age a bit too,
but I see the expert says drink it young!"
Dr Nicholas C Morley (26-Nov-2019)
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