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Bordeaux Wine

Bordeaux wines

Bordeaux Wine

We were delighted last autumn when no lesser a personage than Jancis Robinson OBE, MW observed that the 2012 vintage of our Bordeaux Supérieur from Château d'Abzac was "flattering and well selected" and "very easy to like". We had undergone a grail-like quest to source a keenly-priced 'Petit Château' claret that we thought punched well above its weight so it's jolly gratifying when senior scribes give their approval. Made from a blend of 90% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon from gravelly soils 10 kilometres west of Pomerol by the Baron d'Anglade; it has appealing red berry aromas, a core of bright cassis fruit supported by a framework of fine-grained tannins.

In nearby Lalande-de-Pomerol, which lies 7 kilometres to the southwest, acclaimed wine-maker Denis Durantou fashions his excellent 'La Chenade' bottling from a traditional 'Right Bank' blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. The finished wine has classic dark stone fruit and pencil shaving scents and a plummy palate with enough concentration and complexity to support a decade's bottle-age. It stands up well to grilled red meat and small game and definitely merits decanting.

Continuing a theme of wines that offer good value for money in a notoriously ambitiously-priced market, we were thrilled to get our hands on a parcel of Jean Gautreau's celebrated 'Sociando-Mallet – a humble Haut-Médoc that has received numerous plaudits. Blended from 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc from a mature vineyard 10 kilometres north of Pauillac, the historically overlooked 2001 vintage is just coming into its own. Described by Robert Parker as "full-bodied with terrific texture and concentration" and "a brilliant achievement" that "tastes more like a first-growth than an unclassified offering", it should age gracefully for a further 5-10 years if carefully cellared.

  • Bordeaux Supérieur: Château d'Abzac 2013

    Made from a blend of 90% Merlot, with small dollops of Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon, it is the fruit of our grail-like quest to find an affordable and characterful claret. Already a hit with the Yapp cognoscenti, this precocious 'Petit Château' has alluring red berry aromas preceding a palate with a wealth of cassis flavours, great concentration and fine balance.

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    • Bottle £11.95
    • Bottle Case £143.40
  • Bordeaux: Lalande de Pomerol 'La Chenade' 2011

    Lalande de Pomerol 'La Chenade' from Denis Durantou - Great value, right-bank claret. Made from a traditional right bank blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, this red will cellar well for 10 years and makes a great partner to grills and roasts.

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    • Bottle £22.95
    • Bottle Case £275.40
  • Bordeaux: Château Sociando-Mallet 2001

    A fabulous vintage (93/100 - Robert Parker) with decent bottle-age from this Cru Bourgeois estate in the Haut Medoc that consistently performs like a classified growth. The 2001 was ranked top of 100 Cru Bourgeois by the Revue Vin de France.

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    • Bottle £59.00
    • Bottle Case £708.00

Quick & Easy Guide to the wines of Bordeaux

Walk tall among wine royalty along the quays of Bordeaux.

No city in the world has a stronger association with wine than Bordeaux. Essentially divided into the 'left bank' of the Gironde estuary (west of the city and dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon) and 'right bank' (east and Merlot), the region benefits from a mild maritime climate. The famous 1855 classification (requested by Emperor Napoleon III for the Paris exhibition) created the five-tier Cru classé system which represents 61 châteaux of the left bank Médoc, below which are the Crus Bourgeois. The right bank commune of St-Émilion has its own classification system. One should not overlook the wonderful sweet wines of Sauternes & Graves or great value 'satellite' appellations such as Lalande-de-Pomerol or Montagne-St-Émilion.

Area Under Vine:
With over 10,000 chateaux managing 120,000 hectares under vine, this is the largest AOC region in the world. Over 50% is classified Bordeaux or Bordeaux Supérieur.

Key AOCs:
Pauillac, St-Estèphe, St-Julien, Margaux, Pomerol, St-Émilion, Pessac-Leognan, Sauternes, Graves.

Principal grapes:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec. For the whites – Sauvignon, Semillon, Muscadelle, Ugni blanc and Colombard.

Notable domaines:
Lafite, Latour, Mouton-Rothschild, Haut-Brion, Pavie, Cos d'Estournel, Cheval Blanc, Pètrus, Le Pin, Yquem.

Local delicacies:
Lamproie à la Bordelaise (eel cooked in red wine), local oysters from Arcachon Bay, canelé (dark caramel cakes).

Restaurants we like:
La Tupina (Bordeaux), Fernand (Bordeaux), L'Escale (Lamarque), Le Parasol (Royan).

Famous people from the region:
Francois Mauriac (writer). That's it.

Things to do:
Climb Europe's highest sand dune (Cap Ferret), stroll through the pretty vineyards on the plateau of Pomerol or the hills of St-Émilion, hone your tasting skills at the Maison du Vin, promenade along the world heritage-designated quayside, visit Bernard Magrez's contemporary art exhibition housed in the 18th century mansion Hôtel Labottière, take a river cruise on the Gironde.

Bien classique:
Bordeaux Supérieur: Chateau d'Abzac

Autre chose:
Haut-Medoc: Chateau Sociando-Mallet