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We tasted the annual offerings so you know what to snag when they're released on October 14.
The annual Bordeaux release is almost upon us and if you have a hankering to line-up at 39th and Cambie, or if you just want to mosey in at a more civilized pace in the coming weeks with your fingers crossed, have no fear—I’ve (bravely) tasted a cross-section of the offerings so you can move through the aisles with purpose. The good news? The 2014 vintage is better than either the 2013 or the 2012 and the prices haven’t skyrocketed so there’s some solid values to be had. The bad? The word “value” has a very fluid meaning when it comes to Bordeaux, so don’t expect any steals (or anything much under $50).
This is a lovely wine (and it’s my early choice for the best deal of the vintage). Owned by the Tesseron family—who also own the critics’ darling Pontet-Canet—this château, which was long known for tough, tannic wines, has followed its stablemate’s cue and moved their wine to a more approachable style (thanks to a little more merlot, and a little softer tannins). It still has some lovely freshness, a tiny hit of welcome greenness and a structure that will allow this fella to age very nicely for a decade. Great wine. Wine Enthusiast, 93 points
Lynch-Bages is one of the more famous wines in the Médoc region, but that’s for their acclaimed reds. This wine re-introduces you to how a great, focussed acidity can also have waves and waves of depth. There’s some major citrus (lemon, then lime) and minimal sweetness (more honeydew) in this blend of sauvignon blanc, sémillon and muscadelle. To be honest, even die-hard Bordeaux fans don’t know that Lynch-Bages makes a white wine (very few wineries in the Pauillac region do) so $80 for a minor Unicorn wine is a pretty good deal. Wine Spectator, 92 points
Bordeaux invented the “second label.” Made with grapes from a great estate, they don’t have enough to be considered a Grand Vin, but are nonetheless thought to be excellent in their own right. And in most years, wines like Les Fort de Latour (the second wine of Château Latour) are actually more expensive than most estates’ main wines. This bottle is the second wine of the much-coveted Pomerol from Château Lafleur (which is available for a cool $800), but for less than a quarter of the price you get this beauty—a very clean, nicely mineral wine that’s both approachable and serious. The only downside is dropping almost $200 on a wine that very few people have even heard of, but if you care more about what’s inside the bottle than what’s on the label this is a very savvy choice. Wine Advocate, 91 points (Editor’s note: BS!)
This is a sledgehammer of a wine, displaying waves of dense fruit and side notes of mint and graphite, all hanging on a structure that seems built to last a lifetime. The great wines of the world—like Mouton—are consistently showing in the past decade that they can achieve near perfection in almost any vintage. 2014 may just be a “very good year,” but this baby is sublime. And $880. David Hockney designed the label so consider part of the price art speculation. Wine Spectator, 96 points
Master of Wine Barb Philip thinks Pomerol wines, with the merlot-dominant blends, are the stars of 2014—and this mix of Merlot (80 percent), cabernet franc (19 percent) and cabernet sauvignon (one percent) seems like a good exhibit A for her position. An undeniably sexy nose of wild fruits is followed with a laser-focus of black truffle sliced thin atop a mountain of black fruits. It’s like sliding into the seat of a brand new BMW and feeling that satisfying clunk of the door shut–everything is perfectly in place in this wine. If, down the road, critics revisit 2014 and decide it’s actually closer to a great vintage, it’s a wine like this that will be the reason. Wine Advocate, 96 points