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Discovering New Wines in Bordeaux – Insights from the Inside – Part 2 – Beautiful Blends

Paul Smith, our Financial Director, has again had the chance to visit Bordeaux to discover new wines, chateaux and meet its wine makers. This is the second in this series of blogs about his trip and his discoveries . . .

Chateau Cantin
Chateau Cantin

My visit to Chateau Cantin in Saint Emilion provided one of the big highlights of my trip to Bordeaux. Cantin belongs to Crus & Domaines de France – a Negotiant House and owners of several chateaux. This visit was themed around Merlot and turned out to be quite a revelation.

We focused on Crus & Domaines Right Bank chateaux, featuring Merlot in all its glory, and tasted wines from Saint Emilion, Montagne Saint Emilion, Pomerol, Lalande de Pomerol and – interestingly – Cadillac. You’ll find my notes and tips on each wine tasted in my next blog post.

Whilst at Chateau Cantin we were given five bottles of Merlot 2015 produced from different parcels (plots) of vines on the Cantin estate. We were challenged to rank them in order of our preference and then to make our own blend of the 2015 vintage. This was a sensational experience as I could not believe how different the five Merlots were. Each Merlot had its own unique characteristics within the tannins, fruit, nose, balance and structure.

Blending Merlots at Cantin
Blending Merlots at Cantin

The art of blending Bordeaux has been a real eye opener for me. It’s a craft that has been practiced for centuries and is the secret of Bordeaux’s success (you can learn more about blending Bordeaux on our blogs Bordeaux’s Secret Recipes – The Red Blends and The White Blends). Blending is such an intricate skill as it goes far beyond mixing different wines together. It all starts in the vineyard . . .

Terroir at Cantin
Terroir at Cantin

The vineyard of a chateau is a complex living entity with many different parts. The terrain that it stretches over can have all sorts of contours and undulations; it can be criss crossed by little streams, sit facing a great river or stand prominent inland on a hilly slope. It can lie on top of a multitude of soils and bed rocks, face different points of the compass and have its very own micro climates. Each part of this patchwork within the landscape will have a unique character that will affect the type of grape grown and the wine produced.

Each part is defined by its terroir. Terroir is a French term for a set of environmental conditions (soil type, topography and climate) that give a wine its particular aroma and flavour.

Cantin's courtyard
Cantin’s courtyard

Bordelaise wine makers take terroir very seriously. They go to extraordinary lengths to analyse the chemical composition and mineral content of the soil (grapevines like well drained soils); examine the gradient of each part of the vineyard and assess its exposure (to wind and sun) and then allocate a parcel of grapevines best suited to its individual conditions. Each parcel has its own vat to keep the wine produced from the grapes separate. It’s precision agriculture at its finest.

You might think that this is an awful lot of fuss just to produce wine. But this is where the five Merlots prove a point. Each bottle came from a different parcel of Merlot vines on the estate. It was extraordinary how different each wine was considering that they were all made with the same grape!

Tastings at Cantin
Tastings at Cantin

Of course the process of blending doesn’t stop there. The winemaker will use these five different batches of Merlot to perfect the final blend of Cantin’s 2015 vintage. Once the wine maker is satisfied with his blend of Merlot this in turn is added to their blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (and any other blends of Bordelaise grapes they might be growing such as Petit Verdot, Malbec or Carmenere). The aim is to produce a perfect wine that reflects the style of the chateau and its region. It’s an intricate and painstaking process that has left me with huge respect for the wine makers.

If you’d like to learn more about the wines I tasted at Chateau Cantin – and tips why they are good value for money – check out my blog post: Discovering New Wines in Bordeaux – Insights from the Inside – Part 3. Notes & Tips on the Merlot Blends.

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The Cru Bourgeois – Bordeaux with a clear-cut pedigree

Some of the best value Bordeaux out there comes from the Cru Bourgeois – a family of superb wines that pass vigorous quality control checks to guarantee you a glass of something rather special . . .

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Cru Bourgeois

The Cru Bourgeois are a great source of extremely good wine at a fraction of the price you would splash out on a Grand Cru Classe. Made to the same exacting standards as the Grand Cru Classe in many cases (and often at the same cost) the Cru Bourgeois have clear-cut pedigrees and a rigorous quality control system. Unlike the Grand Cru Classe, which were ranked back in 1855 and have not been reclassified since, the Cru Bourgeois are assessed on a yearly basis. This is the most dynamic ranking of wines in Bordeaux (even Saint Emilion can not match it, their Classification is updated around every 10 years or so).

You may ask why wines are classified at all. Simply put, Classification provides the consumer with an authentic product and a guarantee of its quality.

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A cut above the norm

What are the Cru Bourgeois?

The Cru Bourgeois are a legacy that dates back to the Middle Ages. The ‘bourgeois’ refers to the wealthy middle class wine merchants and craftsmen of the ‘bourg’ of Bordeaux. By the 15th century the bourgeois of Bordeaux had begun to invest in fine vineyards, which became known as Cru Bourgeois (‘cru’ means ‘growth’ when referring to vineyards and denotes recognised quality). They played an important role in the development of the Medoc vineyards and by the early 1800s there were around 300 Crus Bourgeois estates.

Instigated by the Emperor Napoleon III, the 1855 Classification ranked the wines of the aristocracy. Many estates were left out and typically, the Cru Bourgeois were not included. However the Cru Bourgeois were too good not to be recognised in some way. They represented the better estates across the Medoc covering the appellations Medoc, Haut Medoc, Listrac Medoc, Moulis en Medoc, Pauillac, Saint Estephe, Margaux and Saint Julien.

1932 – The unofficial list

In 1932 the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Agriculture drew up an unofficial list of 444 Cru Bourgeois chateaux and this remained unchanged until 2003. Things needed to change; the 1932 list badly needed revising and regulating as it was outdated and the range in quality was quite diverse.

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2003 – changes afoot

2003 – The year of change . . . and court action

The 2003 classification was the first big step forward but, as you can imagine, it caused an uproar with only 247 chateaux included out of the 490 that were submitted. What’s more the chateaux were divided into 3 tiers: Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois (with Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel being the top wines). The idea was to assess the chateaux every 12 years but thanks to the ensuing fracas, bitter complaints and threats of legal action from unsuccessful chateaux owners the Cru Bourgeois was annulled in 2007. Thankfully, after much wrangling and mulling over the best way forward, a brand new system was introduced and 2010 saw the Cru Bourgeois reborn.

2010 – The year of rebirth

The new Cru Bourgeois quality control procedure is independent and uncompromising.

  • Vintage, not vineyard – The class of Cru Bourgeois is awarded to the vintage and not to the vineyard or to the chateau which means that each year a chateau can lose or gain Cru Bourgeois status depending on whether the wine of that vintage makes the grade or not.

  • Independent Judges – To ensure impartiality, an independent agency called Bureau Veritas, checks that all applicants are worthy, examining the state of their grounds, vineyards and wine making facilities.

  • Blind Tastings – Bureau Veritas is also in charge of supervising blind tastings of each vintage by a jury of trade professionals – who are not chateau owners.

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The new Cru Bourgeois bear fruit

The new system does not include tiers so the higher-ranking Cru Bourgeois Superieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel categories that were used in the 2003 ranking are defunct. However there are movements to reinstate these, so I will keep you posted!

Any chateau can apply for Cru Bourgeois status but only their Grand Vin can be submitted ie no second wines or special cuvées.

Success!

Five years down the line and these exacting standards are bearing fruit. The Cru Bourgeois are well respected. Benchmark wines are being recognised and consumers are benefitting from Cru Bourgeois’ stable prices, consistent quality, provenance and rich history along with an ongoing commitment to offering genuine value.

My Recommended Cru Bourgeois

Chantemerle WhiteChateau Chantemerle, Cru Bourgeois Medoc 2011 – Gold Medal

A consistent performer as a Cru Bourgeois and the 2011 vintage has also bagged a gold medal in the long established Concours des Grand Vins de France. Chantemerle is a petit chateau that belongs to the Cruchon family who have been wine makers for several generations in the northern Medoc. Under the direction of Frederic Cruchon, the Medoc’s traditions are respected and the vineyard managed meticulously.

Tasting Notes:

Meltingly smooth Cru Bourgeois Medoc with splendidly rounded tannins. Deliciously deep flavours of cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), juicy prunes and ripe black cherry with expressive notes of vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa and cedar. A lovely floral hint of peonies. Powerful yet balanced. Aromatic, opulent and silky.

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A consistent performer

Food and Wine Pairing:

Being rich and full bodied, Chantemerle pairs very well with the rich flavours of duck and lamb. It’s good with a juicy rib eye steak or hearty beef casseroles, rabbit in mustard sauce, sausages and salamis, feathered game such as pheasant or grouse, kidney and liver.

Enjoy!

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Bordeaux’s Super Superieurs

Bordeaux Superieurs are a good tip for wine hunters searching for wines a notch above the norm. Although production is limited these wines pack more punches than regular Bordeaux and tend to be deeper flavoured, rounder and more complex . . .

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An extremely good Bordeaux Superieur, Chateau Bellevue Favereau is superb value for money. Produced by the Galineau family in Pellegrue – an ancient Bastide which takes its name from the Cranes that gather there on their migration.

Their name gives it away: Bordeaux Superieurs are simply ‘Superior Bordeaux’ – wine made to strict rules that define its quality. They offer super value for money and are a wonderful source of affordable Bordeaux that ticks all the right boxes.

What is a Bordeaux Superieur?

Bordeaux Superieur is a regional appellation (AOC). This means that they are governed by demanding regulations and that in order to qualify as a Bordeaux Superieur the wine must meet exacting criteria. Samples are judged by an inspection board and, subject to meeting the standards, wines that meet the mark are granted the label Bordeaux Superieur.

Chateau Peynaud Bordeaux Superieur 2010 £7.99 - Chateau Peynaud is an outstanding Bordeaux Superieur and is starting to be recognised as one of the most reliable wines in the Bordeaux Superieur appellation, being greatly in demand because of its price/quality ratio.
Chateau Peynaud Bordeaux Superieur 2010 £7.99 – an outstanding Bordeaux Superieur and is starting to be recognised as one of the most reliable wines in the Bordeaux Superieur AOC, being greatly in demand because of its price/quality ratio.

Bordeaux Superieurs have a particular style that the inspection board look for; Reds must be characterised by their harmony, elegance, rich aromas and good balance, and be able to age well. Whites must be distinguished by their zesty freshness, fruity and floral aromas and smoothness. High quality is paramount and as you can imagine the selection process is rigorous. The end result are super wines with a great reputation; their merits stand out above the crowd.

Bordeaux Superieur Key Facts

1. Only 2 French AOCs have a ‘Superieur’ classification: Bordeaux and Beaujolais. Bordeaux Superieurs can be both Red or dry White wines:

  • Red – Bordeaux Superieur Rouge

  • Dry White – Bordeaux Superieur Blanc

  • Semi Sweet – Bordeaux Superieur Blanc Moelleux

  • Sweet – Graves Superieur

'Y' from Sauternes Premier Cru Chateau d'Yquem is a dry White Bordeaux Superieur
‘Y’ from Sauternes Premier Cru Chateau d’Yquem is a dry White Bordeaux Superieur

2. Bordeaux Superieurs can be produced across the length of Bordeaux but only about a quarter of the Bordeaux vineyard area actually makes them.

3. Like regular Bordeaux, Bordeaux Superieurs are blends and are made from combinations of the same grapes. Permitted grapes are:

  • Reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc (also Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere which are used to a lesser extent).

  • Whites: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Gris (also Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Merlot Blanc, Ondenc and Mauzac which are very rarely used).

4. Bordeaux Superieurs are usually made from older vines in specially selected single plots planted at a greater density than regular Bordeaux:

  • Superieurs must be from plots planted with at least 4500 vines per hectare. This means the vines are stronger and healthier with deep root systems.

  • Chateau Vrai Caillou Bordeaux Superieur 2012 £9.99 - Vrai Caillou is an old estate that has been producing charismatic and polished wines for over a century. Since 1863, Chateau Vrai Caillou has been owned by the Pommier family and its wines were noted in the famed Bordeaux wine directory Cocks & Féret. The estate is a little treasure chest, producing excellent Petit Chateaux claret from its fantastic terroir. Vrai Caillou lies in Soussac atop the slopes of the Butte de Launay, one of the highest points in the region.
    Chateau Vrai Caillou Bordeaux Superieur 2012 £9.99 – an old estate in Soussac, owned by the Pommier family, that produces charismatic and polished Bordeaux Superieur.

    The maximum yield of grapes at harvest must be 10% lower than that of regular Bordeaux (less than 50 hl/ha). With less grapes to nurture on each vine the plant can pump more nutrients into its bunches creating richer, better grapes.

  • The grapes must be riper than grapes for regular Bordeaux too. Riper grapes result in a higher sugar levels which convert into higher alcohol levels and Bordeaux Superieur is 0.5% higher in abv than your usual Bordeaux. The maximum is 13.5% abv for Reds and 15% for Whites.

5. The wines are usually aged in oak 3 – 4 years and regulations state that they must be aged for at least 12 months.

Regularly award winning, Chateau Roc de Levraut, is made by Remi and Roger Ballarin, on terroir originally owned by the 12th Century Benedictine Abbey de la Sauve Maujeure. Roc de Levraut translates as the ‘Chateau of the Hare’s Rock’ and sits in the lieu dit of Levraut. The area is sparsely populated and hamlets sit in a sea of vines. The buildings date back to the 17th century but Romans grew vines here before the monks and remnants of their villas can be seen as parch marks in the fields. The Ballarins are the third generation of wine makers at this little estate and their grandfather used oxen to clear the soil of its characteristic boulders. Today the Ballarins use sustainable agriculture alongside modern oenology, respecting both the land and the grapes. Their Bordeaux Superieur has attracted the attention of renowned wine critics, Jancis Robinson MW, Natalie McClean and we are proud to have introduced it to the UK.
Chateau Roc de Levraut, Bordeaux Superieur 2011, Bronze Medal £9.49 – Produced by the Ballarins, whose wines have attracted the attention of renowned wine critics, Jancis Robinson and Natalie McClean. We are proud to have introduced it to the UK.

6. Bordeaux Superieur is estate bottled ie, it is bottled at the chateau where it was produced. This is not a requirement for regular Bordeaux.

Therefore you get more for your money with a Superieur than you do from a basic Bordeaux . . . why not taste the difference?

 

Enjoy!

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What is Declassified Bordeaux and why are we being told it is Special? The Key Facts

Over the past few years Declassified Bordeaux Wines have been creeping into the mainstream. Few people know about them and lots of people are put off as ‘declassified’ doesn’t imply the wine will be good quality. The truth, in fact, is the exact opposite.

Chateaux are secretive about their Declassified Wines
Chateaux are secretive about their Declassified Wines

Declassified Wine is haunted by lots of smokescreens and mirrors. The chateaux who produce it don’t want their customers to know about it; the merchants who sell it are handicapped (sometimes legally) by the chateaux’s insistence on anonymity and the wine buying public is totally confused about it. No wonder it attracts a niche market!

I’d like to demystify Declassifed Wines so that we can all benefit. Let me explain . . .

Declassified Wine is a bit of an ambiguous term but in this instance the Declassified Wine I am referring to generally comes from a fairly prestigious Classified Chateau. (Top Bordeaux chateaux are ranked under various Classifications and are known as Grand Cru Classe or Classified Chateau).

Declassified Wine is the surplus wine that has not made it into the branded wines produced by the chateaux.

This wine is not labelled under the chateaux’s brand name(s) as a classified wine (Grand Cru Classe), instead it is labelled under the generic AOC or given a fancy name that has nothing to do with the chateau.

Shhh!  Declassified Wines can be a bargain
Shhh! Declassified Wines can be a bargain

You might not think that Declassified Wines are not up to much and to be honest most people are fairly sceptical when told about this practice. But the keywords to remember here are ‘prestigious chateaux.’

Wines produced by these top chateaux have certain advantages; they benefit from state of the art wine making, the best experts and oenologists, cutting edge technology and immaculately managed vineyards lying on the best terroir. In short these wines are made to the highest standards – they are the aristocrats of the wine world.

Declassified Bordeaux is made by the same team that produce the Classified Chateaux’s flagship wines.

This means that the Declassified Wine is made with the same level of expertise. The wine is also normally made from the same vineyard so it has the same pedigree and provenance.

Decdlassified Wines are made anonymously by the top Grand Cru Classe
Decdlassified Wines are made anonymously by the top Grand Cru Classe

Is Declassified Wine Any Good?

Simply put, it depends. To me, it all boils down to where it comes from. You can bag yourself a Declassified Wine from a top flight estate without the price of a Premier Cru if you are lucky. But therein lies the rub – as the top chateaux don’t want you to know who produced it, Declassified Wines are made anonymously. This means that you will either have to play the part of private detective or trust your wine merchant.

As merchants we do know where the wine comes from but we aren’t allowed to tell you (but we will always give you a few clues if you want to try and find out).

Bordeaux has some grapevines over 100 years old
Bordeaux has some grapevines over 100 years old

Why do Chateaux Declassify?

1. Chateaux are constantly having to replant their vineyards. Think of it as ‘rolling stock’ if you will. It’s part of their general vineyard management but replanting can also occur if a chateau acquires another estate whose vineyards need rejuvenating or if the chateau wants to introduce another grape variety.

  • Grapevines can attain a great age but generally as they grow old their productivity drops off. Whilst some grapevines in Bordeaux are the grand old age of 100 most are between the ages of 10 and 30 years old.

  • Overall the quality of the grapes increases with age but the yield (crop) decreases. This means that in order to keep production levels constant the chateaux have to plant new vines.

As the quality of the grapes on these young vines is not as good as their older siblings the chateaux can not put it into their Grand Vins (flagship wines).

Bordeaux wines are blends of different grapes
Bordeaux wines are blends of different grapes

2. Bordeaux Grand Vins are blends. In prestigious estates, only the best wines made from the best grapes are blended to be sold under the name of the estate for the highest possible price. Vineyards are typically divided into plots of 3 or 4 different grape varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc are the most common). Part of the skill of the wine making expert is to create these blends using different vats or barrels of wines made from each separate grape variety. One grape may perform better than the others depending on the growing conditions for that particular year, which means that the winemaker requires less of the others.

The end result is that high quality vats of wines that don’t meet the flavour profile for the vintage are surplus to requirements.

Declassified wines are all about brand protection
Declassified wines are all about brand protection

So what do the chateaux do with the rest? They make a Second Wine. Second quality wine is blended and sold under a second label, generally for about one third of the price of the Grand Vin. Some chateaux also make a Third Wine. A case in point is Premier Cru (First Growth) Chateau Latour in AOC Pauillac; the Grand Vin is Chateau Latour, the Second Wine is Les Forts de Latour and the Third Wine is Pauillac de Chateau Latour.

Once a chateau has filled out its requirements for its Grand Vin and Second Wine any remaining wine would be sold as Declassified Wine anonymously for even lower prices, distributed privately or sold to restaurants.

Why are the chateaux so secretive about their Declassified Wine?

Declassified Wine is all about brand protection and manpulating prices. The chateaux want to protect the prestige of their Grand Vin (and its high price). They simply don’t want to devalue their brand by making less expensive wines available under their chateau name.

 

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Insider Tips – Bordeaux’s 2007 Vintage Comes of Age

Decanter’s January issue has a piece on Bordeaux’s ugly duckling vintages; amongst them is the 2007. Ugly ducklings turn into swans and I have some top tips to help you cherry pick the beauties that were overlooked.

The 2007 vintage gains its wings
The 2007 vintage gains its wings

It pays to be patient with vintages. When scores are released on Bordeaux’s Grand Cru Classes they are only babies, freshly hatched as it were. Barely 6 months old, and still in the barrel, these fledgling wines are criticised and examined for their future potential. Some vintages are strong and full of prowess, others are a little more hesitant and need time to develop before they leave the nest. 2007 is one of these. Now, 7 years down the line the 2007 vintage is starting to flex its wings.

‘The ugly duckling, 2007, is becoming a swan.’

The 2007 vintage has gained deepening balance, polished tannins, harmony and structure
The 2007 vintage has gained deepening balance, polished tannins, harmony and structure

I’ve always been an advocate of the 2007 vintage as regular readers will know from my writing (see further reading below). I believe that the reason why the 2007 vintage was over shadowed is due to the fact that people confused wine investment with drinking. The 2007 vintage generally had a high pH level and as a consequence lacks the longevity that you see in the extraordinary vintages of 2009 and 2010 that followed it. This makes 2007 a very good year for drinking but not for laying down for investment. And good drinking it is, too! I’ve often told customers who know me well that if they are ever in a restaurant and spot a Bordeaux 2007 on the wine list that they should go for it. Their feedback has confirmed my advice.

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Chateau Pape Clement 2007 Grand Cru Graves from Pessac Leognan. ‘One of the stars of the 2007 vintage’. Beautifully opulent
Chateau La Mission Haut Brion 2007 Grand Cru Graves.  From the same stable as Premier Cru Haut Brion in Pessac Leognan.  'The wine of the vintage'.  Stunning
Chateau La Mission Haut Brion 2007 Grand Cru Graves. From the same stable as Premier Cru Haut Brion in Pessac Leognan. ‘The wine of the vintage’. Stunning


Vintages in Bordeaux are tasted and assessed at En Primeur during April when the great and the good descend en masse to sample the wines in barrel, a good 18 months or so before it is bottled. The wine at this point in time is made from grapes harvested the previous September or October and is only 6 months old. Judgement is passed, the all important critics scores are allocated and prices set.

You might ask why the wines are tasted, appraised and purchased at such a young age and it would be a very good question. It makes more sense to taste the wine when it has developed rather than in its infant state. The answer is that En Primeur is a tradition from the bad old days when chateaux needed to make money fast to survive. Selling the wine young meant that the chateaux would have the funds in place ready for the next harvest and following vintage. This has evolved over the years and nowadays En Primeur has matured into the buying and selling of ‘wine futures’ (purchasing a wine in its early stages at its lowest price either as an investment or as a means of securing limited stock).

Chapelle d'Ausone 2007 Second Wine of Chateau Ausone, Premier Cru Classe A, Saint Emilion.  Supple and delicious; notably less expensive than its stellar parent, Ausone
Chapelle d’Ausone 2007 Second Wine of Chateau Ausone, Premier Cru Classe A, Saint Emilion. Supple and delicious; notably less expensive than its stellar parent, Ausone
Chateau Bellevue Mondotte 2007 – Grand Cru Saint Emilion.  A micro-cuvee with tiny production and cult following, from the same stable as Chateau Pavie, Premier Cru Classe A
Chateau Bellevue Mondotte 2007  Grand Cru Saint Emilion. A micro-cuvee with tiny production and cult following, from the same stable as Chateau Pavie, Premier Cru Classe A

Before wines at tasted at En Primeur Harvest Reports on the growing season are issued and interpreted by the wine industry. They are an early predictor of what you can expect the style and quality of the vintage to be. Harvest Reports tend to fall into those that bear glad tidings and those that are the harbingers of doom. We tend to get very excited in the wine industry if the harvest looks exceptional (there have been no less than 3 vintages heralded as the ‘vintage of the century’ in the last decade: 2005, 2009 and 2010). As for the harbingers of doom, well to be honest unless there is an extreme weather event resulting in disaster it’s pretty much impossible for the top chateaux to make a bad wine these days.

A good year for drinking
2007 has something for everyone and every pocket

‘Wine making technology is cutting edge if you can afford it and poor harvests can be saved in the blending room’.

With the 2007 harvest temperatures were unseasonally low; there was a lack of sun and rain fell at the wrong time of year. However there is an old saying in Bordeaux: ‘Wait until the last grapes are in before making a judgement.’ Wise words. Sure enough the weather came good. Right at the end of the season the sun shone and grapes matured nicely under ripening blue skies. The style of the wine in 2007 was very different to the blockbusters of 2005, 2009 and 2010. The 2007 wines have lower alcohol content compared to their heady peers and when I tasted them at En Primeur 7 years ago I enjoyed their refreshing approachability. At the time I wrote that 2007 should appeal to younger drinkers who are used to drinking New World wines. In their infancy these wines were uncomplicated and were easy drinking – perfect for those who hadn’t tried a Grand Cru Classe Claret before as the 2007 is a good year for appreciating what Bordeaux can offer.

Mathilde de La Fleur Morange 2007 – Second Wine of Chateau La Fleur Morange, Grand Cru Saint Emilion.  Hedonistic and lusicious; notably less expensive than its ascendent parent.
Mathilde de La Fleur Morange 2007  Second Wine of Chateau La Fleur Morange, Grand Cru Saint Emilion. Hedonistic and lusicious; notably less expensive than its ascendent parent.
Chateau La Fleur Morange 2007  Grand Cru Saint Emilion.  A micro-cuvee with tiny production and a loyal cult following; made from 100 year old vines.  'The star of the Right Bank.'  ' Gorgeously full bodied 2007
Chateau La Fleur Morange 2007 Grand Cru Saint Emilion. A micro-cuvee with tiny production and a loyal cult following; made from 100 year old vines. ‘The star of the Right Bank.’ ‘ Gorgeously full bodied 2007

‘The 2007s hark back to the classical Bordeaux of 20 years ago which were very popular in the UK.’

Skip forward to the future and these wines have had time to put flesh on their bones. Light and subtle they may have been but the years in bottle have allowed them deepening balance, polished tannins, harmony and structure. The ugly duckling has turned into a swan.

Insider Tip

The 2007 vintage is not only very reasonably priced thanks to being eclipsed by its peers (you can pick up some real bargains here) but it is also a vintage that you can drink NOW. The greatest Bordeaux vintages are slow burners and are cellared for years, taking decades to reach their peak, with some wines having an anticipated maturity of 20 – 50 years. 2007 gives you the opportunity to taste these wines without the wait.

A vintage you can drink NOW
A vintage you can drink NOW

This vintage also has something for everyone and every pocket. The Bordeaux Superieurs and Petit Chateaux also produced some good wines, although you will have to work hard to spot these as they mature more quickly than the Grand Cru Classe and most have been drunk already. 2007 was a wonderful year for Bordeaux’s white wines. My top dry white Grand Crus are Chateau Pape Clement Blanc 2007, an incredible wine, followed by Chateau Laville Haut Brion 2007. The 2007 sweet whites are very good indeed and the top Premier Crus are superb: Chateau d’Yquem, Chateau Climens and Chateau Rieussec. The Bordeaux Superieurs and Petit Chateaux also produced some good wines, although you will have to work hard to spot these as they mature more quickly than the Grand Cru Classe and most have been drunk already.

Chateau Pavie Decesse 2007 – Grand Cru Saint Emilion from the same stable as Chateau Pavie, Premier Cru Classe A .  'The blockbuster of the 2007 vintage'
Chateau Pavie Decesse 2007  Grand Cru Saint Emilion from the same stable as Chateau Pavie, Premier Cru Classe A . ‘The blockbuster of the 2007 vintage’
.Chateau L'Eglise Clinet 2007  Grand Cru Pomerol.  Unquestionably 'the best Pomerol' in the 2007 vintage.  Astonishling flavours, sleek and smouldering
.Chateau L’Eglise Clinet 2007  Grand Cru Pomerol. Unquestionably ‘the best Pomerol’ in the 2007 vintage. Astonishling flavours, sleek and smouldering

These 2007s are available from Bordeaux-Undiscovered’s fine wine merchant branch, Interest In Wine. The wines have first class provenance; being stored in bond, direct from chateau.

Further Reading:

If you are interested in learning more about the 2007 vintage and its wines checkout my blogs listed below:

The Bordeaux 2007 Harvest – Good or Bad? Make Your Choice

Bordeaux Wine – 2007 Tasting – The Star of the Right Bank

Bordeaux 2007 Tasting – The Red Wines

Bordeaux 2007 Tasting – Wonderful Whites and Cautionary Word to the Chateaux

Chateau La Tour du Pin 2007 – Rare Grand Cru Saint Emilion.  From the same stable as Chateau Cheval Blanc Premier Cru Classe A.  Only a few vintages made.  Tremendous value
Chateau La Tour du Pin 2007  Rare Grand Cru Saint Emilion. From the same stable as Chateau Cheval Blanc Premier Cru Classe A. Only a few vintages made. Tremendous value
Chateau Troplong Mondot 2007 -  Premier Cru Classe B, Saint Emilion.  'A brilliant 2007' from a high flyer.  Superb purity and elegance
Chateau Troplong Mondot 2007  Premier Cru Classe B, Saint Emilion. ‘A brilliant 2007’ from a high flyer. Superb purity and elegance

En Primeur 2007 Prices and Scores

Summary of My Week of Bordeaux 2007 Tastings

Bordeaux – Every Cloud Gas A Silver Lining

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