Wine: Best of Bordeaux

I think the May issue of Wine & Spirit magazine had it about right suggesting that wine buyers in search of a bargain are best to wait for next year's French supermarket Foires aux Vins to buy their Bordeaux 2007s. I didn't attend this year's tasting circus in Bordeaux last month because the weather conditions and subsequent reports made it clear that there was little mileage for consumers to buy en primeur now. Even the normally enthusiastic UK wine trade, which stands to make easy money from sales of the new Bordeaux vintages, has been a little quiet. It's a sound enough vintage, good in parts, but only in the best of years is it worth shelling out in advance.

A survey of the members of the wine exchange suggests at this early stage that the best wine of the vintage is likely to be St Emilion's Château Ausone, while Léoville Barton tops the poll for the likely "best value" château (bearing in mind values are relative in Bordeaux) and Château Lafite is the biggest disappointment. On a 100-point rating, the vintage overall scored 88, which puts it on a par with the average-to-mediocre vintages of 1997 and 1999. Pre-release prices, which are just starting to trickle through now, are expected to be lower than 2006, but still the third highest ever. Not the greatest incentive to buy pre-release then in the wake of modern classics such as 2005 and 2000.

Although Bordeaux does its best to claim that advances in the cellar and vineyard ensure that there's no such thing as an off-vintage any more, the weather or le bon dieu, depending on your allegiance, sees to it that vintage variation is still a demonstrable feature of the world's biggest fine-wine region. Nowhere was this mor e evident than in London earlier this month where, to celebrate 25 years of ownership, the Dillon family hosted a tasting of 55 vintages of Château La Mission Haut Brion at The Square restaurant. From 2005 back to 1929, the tasting showed wines, warts and all, from modern giants like 2005 and 2000, through the legendary vintages of 1989, 1982, 1961 and 1959, to the shockers of 1963 and 1965.

La Mission Haut Brion in Pessac-Léognan in the Graves region south of Bordeaux is almost a "first growth" but not quite. The five first growths, Haut-Brion, Lafite, Latour, Margaux and Mouton Rothschild, are the old masters of the wine world, classified first among equals in 1855 (Mouton joining the élite crew in 1973). In company with St Emilion's Cheval Blanc and Ausone and Pomerol's Pétrus, they're the solid blue chips sought after the world over by investors, collectors and label drinkers. La Mission missed out in 1855, but as this historic tasting showed, in great vintages, it's the equal of the first growths and in some, notably 1989 and 1975, it surpasses them. If you had seen the 2000 La Mission on offer en primeur at £1,600 a case, you might have baulked at the price, but since today's market price is £5,000 a case, you'd be laughing if you'd bought it.

One of Bordeaux's virtues is that it can still offer good claret that doesn't have to cost an arm and both legs. On the same day as the La Mission tasting, Berry Bros was also showing some fine clarets that are just about ready for drinking, among them the classic, savoury 2004 Château Pontet Canet, £39.50, and the stylish 2004 Château Pavie Macquin, St Emilion, £45. For more everyday fare from the consistent 2005 vintage, the 2005 Diane de Belgrave, £10.99, Majestic, is a modern style with some of the class of its grand vin, Château Belgrave, the 2005 Château Greysac, £11.99, Majestic, or buy 2 = £9.99, is a juicily blackcurranty, classic Médoc, while the Château Saÿe, £7.99, M&S, is more classic merlot in style with a chocolatey fruitiness. Not in grand La Mission Haut Brion league granted, but not out of sight either.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
Life and Style
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: MI Developer

    £35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...

    Recruitment Genius: Fitness Manager

    £20000 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leisure organisation manag...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Manager

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Delivering an inspiring, engagi...

    Recruitment Genius: Learning Team Administrator

    £17500 - £20500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a great te...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions