By The Glass
Bargain hunt rewards fans of Bordeaux from 2005
THE 2005 VINTAGE in Bordeaux, France, is universally recognized as one of the area's finest. Unfortunately, Bordeaux fans got sticker shock once they saw the prices.
First-growths such as Lafite and Latour were selling for $800 a bottle -- if you could find them. To put it in perspective, you could buy a 1982 first-growth for about the same price right now, and in the previous vintage, 2004, you could buy first-growths for less than $200. The 2005 vintage was the most expensive ever for Bordeaux.
BORDEAUX is still the king on the open market, more widely collected than wines from Burgundy, California, Australia, Germany, Italy or anywhere else. It has an international clientele from Asia, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, the Middle East ... just about everywhere.
And many of the top chateaux are making fewer cases than before. A typical year for Latour or Lafite would be around 20,000 cases of wine, but more recently they've been making closer to 10,000 cases.
BUT THE wines grabbing headlines, rated growths such as Latour and Lafite, comprise roughly 5 percent of the production from Bordeaux. There are literally hundreds of other producers struggling to sell their wine to anyone who will buy it. Bankruptcy, closing up shop or selling the vineyards are very real possibilities for many of these wineries.
Between these extremes are thousands of producers few people have ever heard of. Heck, I'm in the business, and I know very little of these producers. But I do know that if you do some legwork, you can find great values. Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, great weather that defines a great vintage also raises the general quality of all wines in the region.
So there are a ton of opportunities to find good value wines from little-known producers in a great vintage like 2005. Fortunately, I go to Europe regularly, and I visit, taste and talk to some of these wineries in my less-than-perfect French. Lo and behold, I did find some gems for really good prices. Bordeaux has a sea of good values that California, Chile and other major cabernet/merlot -producing areas just don't have.
Three of my discoveries are Mylord Bordeaux ($14.99), La Croix de Roche Bordeaux Superior ($15.99) and La Cour d'Argent Bordeaux Superieur ($16.99). These wines will not stand out as cocktail sippers, but once you pair them with some good food, they really excel. They will make your next steak or rack of lamb taste even better.
These are more than simple fruity wines. They have fruit, but they also have balance and structure that suggest a higher pedigree.
Jay Kam is president of Vintage Wine Cellar. This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org