Anthony Rose: 'Bordeaux still thinks of itself as the centre of the fine-wine universe'


Offers for Bordeaux 2011 are now closing or closed. Did anyone notice? The 'campaign' to sell the 2011 vintage is a candidate for the most disastrous ever. How such a normally savvy region can get it quite so wrong is hard to grasp, but the Greek word hubris comes to mind. With a unique system known as the place, all the donkey work of selling is done by the city's merchants, so the châteaux don't have to get their hands dirty. But the châteaux fix the prices and they came unstuck this time round thanks to overpricing a perfectly good but not great vintage.

Bordeaux still thinks of itself as the centre of the fine-wine universe, partly because collectors and investors around the globe are prepared to pay top dollar, yen and yuan for a tiny handful of its top wines, which some will drink and others use as status symbols or investment vehicles. But the much-vaunted Chinese collectors failed to materialise this year. It's also the case that 2011 was preceded by two great vintages and even though the top 2009s and 2010s need time, the underlings are starting to look approachable.

The 2009 Château Barreyres, £11.49, Sainsbury's is a stylishly youthful claret from the Haut-Médoc with plentiful, rich blackcurrant and black-cherry fruit lightly fringed with the fresh leafiness of cabernet sauvignon and the cedary/coffee-like tones of new oak. Berry's 2009 Pomerol, £19.95, Berry Bros (0800 2802440) is a claret from Château Feytit-Clinet with the opulent, sweet-cherry aromas of the merlot grape and a generously succulent core of cherry fruit to it, too.

Although still in the first flush of primary youth, the 2009 Château Cambon La Pelouse, £18.99, Sainsbury's, is another cedary red with a polished core of cassis fruit bordered by a lick of vanilla oak. 2009s like these tend to be on the precocious side still, so if your taste is for the more mature, the 2008 Clos des Quatre Vents Villa des Quatre Soeurs, £17.28, Justerini & Brooks (020-7484 6400), is a bright, fragrantly aromatic modern claret with vanilla undertones and juicy, medium-bodied mulberry fruit.

I like the texture, too, of the 2006 Château Valrose, Cuvée Aliénor, Saint Estèphe £19.99, Tesco (114 stores), which combines the merlot grape with the duo of cabernet sauvignon and franc in a succulent red that's nicely à point. Equally, the 2005 Ségla, the second wine of cru classé Château Rauzan-Ségla, £32, Berry Bros, is full of vivid cherry and cassis with the pedigree of the classed growth showing in its stylish make-up. If that's too young still, don't hesitate to wind the clock back still further to a mature, cedary and quite delicious 2004 Château Prieuré Lichine Margaux, £35, The Wine Society (01438 741177).