Cellar notes #56: A claret quartet

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Bibendum, the dynamic Primrose Hill wine merchant, has a number of serious clarets on its list from which I've picked a four to savour for this or future Christmases.

Bibendum, the dynamic Primrose Hill wine merchant, has a number of serious clarets on its list from which I've picked a four to savour for this or future Christmases. Prices are by the case but for wines over £20 you can select one or more bottles in a mixed case.

2001 Château Les Tourelles de Longueville, £17.49 (also £14.66 bottle/case at Berry Bros & Rudd, 0870 900 4300). Aromatic, youthful, with a suave touch of vanilla oak contained in a framework of intensely flavoured fruit.

2001 Bahans du Château Haut Brion, £21.05. This is the second wine of First Growth Haut Brion in Pessac-Léognan, itself a majestic wine in this vintage. But the second wine is a classy number too with sexy vanilla oak, an opulent whack of fruit with a delightful, intense fruitiness and elegantly resolved tannins. One to tuck away for five to seven years.

1998 Château Grand Mayne, £28.40. An immensely seductive Saint Emilion, a traditional, elegant, merlot-based style of right- bank Bordeaux with a modern veneer of spicy, liquoricey, coffee-bean oak, plenty of savoury cassis-fruit richness and sturdy tannins.

1990 Château Les Ormes de Pez, £35.25. This shouldn't be as good as it is; it is after all a cru bourgeois, not a classified château. From one of the three great vintages of the modern era (1982 and 2000 being the other two), it's the vintage that tells in a beautifully perfumed Saint Estèphe red with a classy, mature, sweet-savoury fruit richness and complexity. The ultimate Christmas treat for the claret traditionalist.

Bibendum Wine Ltd, London NW1 (020-7449 4120) or visit www.bibendum-wine.co.uk

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