A case of red wine was sold at auction last month for £11000. Admittedly, it was Château Latour, one of the most prestigious estates in Bordeaux and from the highly acclaimed 2010 vintage, but it set me wondering whether any wine is worth almost £1000 a bottle. And, of course, the buyer of this case is likely to have to wait at least a decade before the wine is at its peak, assuming, that is, that he or she is going to drink it, rather than (more likely) re-selling it at a profit.
The prices of top wines are now silly – the Liv-ex Index calculates that they have tripled since 2004 – and the sad fact is that it is putting the best wines way out of reach of most wine lovers. When I first started taking an interest in wine, you could buy one of these top Bordeaux for about 20 times the price of an ordinary wine – just about affordable for a really special occasion – now that figure stands at 150 and rising steadily.
So, for those of more modest means, is there any way you can sample a decent Bordeaux? Happily, I’d say yes! Look for wines with the words ‘Cru Bourgeois’ on the label. These are from estates which fall outside the Classified Growth system. Many are, nevertheless, well situated and with talented and dedicated winemakers. But, because they are not listed among the privileged few, prices are far more reasonable.
A couple of days ago I opened such a bottle that I’d kept under the stairs for a few years – even lesser bottles take a while to reach their peak.
Château Senejac 2006 had become nicely mellow and mature with soft, leathery flavours and a long spicy finish. You’d probably pay around £15 – £20 for the equivalent today. Don’t expect the length or complexity of a Latour, just really pleasant drinking – and at a sensible price.