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 Liv-ex.com 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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

    Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
    Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

    The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

    Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
    Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

    Meet Japan's AKB48

    Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor