The $120 Wine Hack That Will Illuminate Bordeaux For You

You'll get 3 bottles and unmatchable insight into the importance of vintage.

Chateau Ferran 2015 $39

Chateau Ferran 2016 $39

Chateau Ferran 2017 $40

We’re still in the middle of the BCLDB’s now legendary Bordeaux Release, and while a bunch of the trophy bottles have no doubt been snapped up (like $3,200 for this single bottle of Petrus), the reality is that we live in a time of two Bordeaux. One is more akin to a financial market, where prestige bottles function as investments to be arbitraged and are rarely consumed. The other is a wine region that is increasingly offering great value to the customer, but is often overlooked because the region has become increasingly identified with the ultra-rich.

But both those parts share one truth: if you love blended red wine made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and their related friends, it is the greatest wine region in the world. And while the upper echelon requires a significant trust fund, the vast majority of wine produced costs little more than our local BC Bordeaux-inspired red blends. A case in point is this bottle of Chateau Ferran, which is from Pessac-Leognan, the commune just south of the city of Bordeaux. Let me be frank—you’re not likely to impress anyone with this bottle: I love not only Bordeaux, but the appellation of Pessac-Leognan (home of my beloved Domaine de Chevalier) and I’d never heard of Chateau Ferran until a few days ago.

But in some ways this exercise isn’t about one estate, but about one region. For Bordeaux is still a region where vintage matters. Yes, I know, vintage matters everywhere, but in Bordeaux it really matters. And by being able to taste three successive vintages in a row, all made my the same respected chateau, you get the opportunity to see a powerful illustration of just how much weather and related events factor into how a wine tastes in a  given year. As a cheat sheet, of these three vintages in general, 2016 has received the most universal acclaim, but Chateau Ferran in particular has some good scores from very respected critics (as well as James Suckling) in all three years. Tasting them back-to-back shows how sometimes, great years aren’t so great when they’re young (they need some time to be approachable), and so-so years can be quite enjoyable early on.

And given that we’re talking about three bottles, they would make for an awesome dinner party pastime that would suit the mandated 6 persons rule.