After 2 Blogs about the red wines of Burgundy, I think it’s time to move on to France’s other flagship region, Bordeaux. There are a few similarities between the 2 – stratospheric prices for the top wines and an active investment market among them – but many differences which make it easier to find something drinkable at an affordable – if, perhaps, not exactly every day – price.
One of these differences is size: Bordeaux produces more than 3 times as much wine as Burgundy in a typical year and there’s nothing like the same fragmentation of vineyards that causes the supply problems in Burgundy. This is due to the fact that many of Bordeaux’s estates are now owned by companies rather than individuals, easing inheritance problems, plus the Bordeaux Appellation system is rather simpler, only dividing down as far as villages, rather than identifying vineyards as they do in Burgundy.
Despite those advantages, you can still easily pay £50 – £100 for well-known wines, but, if you avoid the big names and choose carefully, there is some value available. As I found recently when I opened an attractive red from the excellent 2010 vintage with the benefit of a good few years of barrel and bottle maturity behind it.
Moulins de Citran (Majestic, £16.99 as part of a mixed case of 6 bottles) is quite lean and austere in a typical Bordeaux way but has good blackcurrant and raspberry fruit and some cedary spice and leather flavours. There’s fair length, too, and, despite its age, it has a good few years of happy drinking ahead of it.
So, why is this under £20 and not £50? Firstly, it is not from one of the prestigious villages – it’s simply AC Haut-Medoc but, perhaps, more importantly, it’s the estate’s ‘2nd wine’. Many Bordeaux properties are large enough to make 2 or even 3 different wines each year. Their best grapes from their oldest wines will go into their top wine (which would be named ‘Chateau de Citran’ in this case), but that still leaves good grapes from, perhaps, younger vines or vines in less good parts of the vineyard spare. These will go into the 2nd wine – still made by the same winemaker in the same winery but often sold at less than half the price of the main Chateau wine.
So, if you love Bordeaux wines but don’t want to pay too much, then 2nd wines of good estates in less fashionable parts of the region are a really smart choice.