In terms of fine wine the words 'Bordeaux' and 'bargain' rarely get put into the same sentence. Everyone knows that in order to drink the premium wines of this region you will either need to be working in the wine industry, have a rich friend who serves such wines at dinner parties, or be that rich friend.
However, visiting Bordeaux for the 2012 en primeur tasting this April we discovered some truly epic wines, albeit minus the epic price tag. Jancis Robinson concurs stating that: "In general 2012 is offering much better value than any vintage since 2008. If you did want to buy a first growth, this is a vintage to consider since prices have come down but quality has not."
Even the most expensive 'Grand vin' available this year are so far, being priced reasonably. Sadly, these 'reasonable' prices won't translate as a 'bargain', to most people. That's where the Bordeaux 'second wines' and 'estate wines' come in. Produced by the same wine making team as the illustrious 'Grand vin', these wines are typically selected from younger vines and will receive less oak ageing, a further selection then takes place whereby wine in the barrel is designated as a second, third or potentially fourth wine. In the case of estate wines, they are produced from an entirely different vineyard but receive expert care and guidance from the same winemaking team.
The beauty of these wines is that often the grapes will still be of extremely high quality, and rigorous sorting will have taken place in order to eliminate anything unripe, or disease ridden. They will in some cases, still express elements of the same fabled expression of terroir asthe 'Grand vin', but perhaps not with same razor sharp precision. Thus offering the opportunity to fill your cellar with some illustrious wine at a fraction of the price.
Centuries of winemaking expertise from the world's most renowned wine region at reasonable prices that will age beautifully for 10 years - what more could you want?
The following wines are my recommendations from the 2012 vintage for the eager and discerning wine buyer to start a collection of Bordeaux but without having to book in an appointment with their local mortgage lender. All priced between £10 and £50 per bottle this cross section of wines which represent all the major appellations, will promise some exciting years of drinking ahead:
Three words best describe this effort from one of Pomerol's last remaining high quality but affordable estates - plush, polished and classy.
Famed US critic Robert Paker Jr (RPJ) agreed awarding this wine 93-95 pts. Made from 100% Merlot, this a true representation of terroir.
Will only require 2-3 years before drinking well for 2 decades!
Owned by fashion house Chanel (93-95) who are determined to produce great wines, this second growth Margaux offers classic Bordeaux drinking from one of the most revered appellations.
US critics James Suckling and RPJ awarded 92-93 and 93-95 respectively, making this one of the finest efforts of the vintage.
A blend of 54.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot and 1.5% Petit Verdot, this perfumed and floral wine will be approachable young and age gracefully for 10-20 years.
With prices for revered first growth Lafite Rothschild on average well over £500 per bottle - Duhart Milon - a classified grand cru in its own right allows consumers to enjoy drinking a fantastic classically styled Pauillac made by the same winemaking team behind the mythical and ethereal Lafite for a fraction of the cost.
British critics Jancis Robinson (17.5 pts) and Tim Atkin (94 pts) loved this effort and I can see why.
Silky and approachable young - a top class Bordeaux that will age effortlessly.
Made by winemaker of the vintage, Denis Durantou, from top Pomerol estate Eglise Clinet - it is of no surprise that he has produced a similarly fantasic wine at his Lalande Pomerol estate.
A blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc this wine is smooth and sexy. All the hallmarks of a top class Pomerol, massively outperforming its appellation.
A popular estate from the Southern Medoc which is well known for producing consistent quality for relative value.
This is a well-made Bordeaux that offers finesse whilst being unpretentious - a classic style that is a must for a Bordeaux cellar.
This is a new project from the Domaine de Chevalier team - a dry white wine produced from a Sauternes vineyard; this could be the start of a new trend that proves popular as the sweet wine estates continue to struggle to find a market.
But this fantastic new addition to the scene brings vivacity in a racy Sauvignon Blanc (30%), Semillon (70%) blend which is lively on the palate and will offer beautiful drinking in the Summer. Wonderful as an aperitif or serve with grilled fish or chicken
Produced by the winemaking team at Cos d'Estournel in the Northern Medoc. This is made from 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. Only in its ninth year this wine is very much coming into its own as an estate.
An easy-going and attractive Bordeaux which delivers finesse and sweet fruit.
To be released
Estimate: £150-£170 per 12