The wine palate
July 8, 2006
The ’05 Bordeaux vintage is being tasted and the verdict is good. People are buying futures like crazy and prices are going through the roof. With comments by Robert Parker such as, "It is clearly a singular vintage that should evolve into one of the great vintages of Bordeaux," and cover articles in almost every wine publication, the Bordeaux madness is most certainly on. Bordeaux is one of the most classic regions in France, known for its big, powerful, and yet stunningly complex red wines. The names of the First Growths carry celebrity status that make any wino shiver with excitement at the very thought of tasting one. Bordeaux is also home to Sauternes and Barsac, which can fetch just as high of a price as the reds. No other sweet wine in the world carries equal balance to express not the sugar content, but the intricacies and sometime strange qualities that the "Noble Rot" can create. The distinction these wines have built over the years is well deserved. I don’t think any wine in the world can marry strength and size, with elegance and complexity like great Bordeaux, and likewise, fine Sauternes is truly a sublime experience.
Futures can really be a great way to ensure that you get your piece of the Bordeaux pie. Wines are sold now for the pending release of these fine Bordeaux next year after they have settled in the bottle. The benefit to buying futures is that not only will prices be much higher when the wines hit the stores upon release, but many of them will never even get to the stores. Wines like Chateau Petrus are often allocated to restaurants and specific high-end retailers that have a history of selling this uber expensive wine.
If you can not wait until the ’05’s are released to have a tasty sip of some fine Bordeaux, and god knows I can’t, here are a couple in the state that I recommend. If you don’t want to get mortgage out for your next bottle of claret, the Chateau Larose-Trintaudon is a great by at just under $20. It has nice big Bordeaux character and good balance for the price. The ’99 Chateau Prieure-Lichine at $35 has all the power and style of a good Margaux and is ready to drink now. One of the best deals in the state is the ’96 Chateau Trotany at $89. This wine is considered to be the best wine of Pomerol second only to Chateau Petrus which is retailing at $708. Ouch. The ’96 Trotanoy is retailing at almost twice that price everywhere else in the country. As far as Sauternes goes, you could always buy a half bottle of the very famous Chateau D’Yquem for $182, or you could go for the really delicious ’97 Chateau Rieussec for the mere price of $54.65 and experience the explosion of honey, almond, caramel, and of course noble rot that you hope for in a great Sauternes. I say that this weekend we should all put our feet up and enjoy a juicy, earthy, and delicious bottle of Bordeaux. Go ahead, you deserve it.
Zev Rovine is the sommelier and resident cheese monger at the Spotted Frog Bookstore Cafe and Wine Bar where he teaches weekly wine classes. His wine education comes from the American Sommelier Association in N.Y.C. and he tries his very best not to spill the Pinot on the bestseller section. If you have any wine queries or comments he is easily contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .