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.