This release is featuring wines of the Bordeaux region. There are bordeaux wines in the value category but bordeaux wine prices can also reach up into the stratosphere.
Here is my attempt to simplify understanding the various appellations in the Bordeaux region, which may help understand the pricing hierarchy.
The region itself is about 80 miles long along the Garonne River which feeds into the Gironde Estuary and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean. The Bordeaux region is divided by referencing the Right Bank and the Left Bank.
The classic bordeaux blend is made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc in varying percentages.
The Right Bank produces wines that are typically Merlot based ie the highest grape percentage in the blend is Merlot, with the second grape being Cabernet Sauvignon. Right Bank producers you might be familiar with include (among many) Saint Emillion, Entre Deux Mers, Pomerol and Fransac.
The Left Bank produces blends that are typically Cabernet Sauvignon based with the second grape being Merlot. Four of the most famous communes are in the Medoc region of the Left Bank – St. Estephe, Pauillac, Saint Julien and Margaux. The fifth commune of Pessac Leogonan is a bit further to the south. These 5 communes are home to the 5 Premier Cru designations according to the Medoc Classification of 1855. (The Classification was amended in 1973 to include Mouton-Rothschild).
Bordeaux also produces white wines, typically Semillon based wines. The most famous would be the Sauternes, sweet dessert wines but there are many dry wines as well- think Graves region and Entre Deux Mers.
Having said all that… here are my Bordeaux picks from this release:
Chateau La Caussade 2010
#177014 Gold Medal 2012 Concours de Bordeaux %19.95
(From the Médoc region) According to the Vintage panel 2010 was a stellar vintage and this wine has ripe cherry and bright cassis notes. Full-bodied, smooth, silky. An astounding value.
Chateau Tour de Capet 2012
#166581 Score 90 $34.95
This is a Grand Cru – so a step above the general or superieur designation and under the Premier Cru- and a chance to ample and compare the difference. The Tasting Panel called this ‘smooth, dense with minerals, spice and plum fruit: balanced, complex and long. Yum.
Jip Jop Rocks Shiraz/Cabernet 2014
#186114 Score 93 $16.95
Tasting notes from tastings.com call this an explosively juicy and flavorful syrah with bright, spicy herbal aromas, fruity full body with dried cherries, chocolate, toffee menthol, mint and pepper on the finish.
The Lane Vineyard Block 5
#462515 Score 94 $19.95
James Halliday, winecompanion.com.au calls this elegant, with fragrant and expressive red cherry, spice and pepper aromas. Medium bodied, gentle tannins join to provide textural and flavour complexity. Recommendation is to drink by 2024 so buy a couple and compare them.
Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling 2015
Vic Harradine of winecurrent.com calls this delicious, incredible value with floral, mineral and citrus nose with lemon, lime, apple and white peach on the palate. Long and refreshing finish. Sounds like a bargain to me.
Wine by Joe Chardonnay 2015
According to Vintage Panel the back story on this is Dobbes Vineyards wants to provide an attractive and quality alternative to Oregon’s, ultra-premium wines in order to introduce this area to a wider audience. They describe this wine as ‘approachable with a floral tone overlaying ripe apple and peach notes. Creamy, smooth with moderate oak with a marvelous, underlying chalky mineral tone. An A-list introduction to Oregon’.
The Christmas and New Year pricey stock is starting to show up so if you want to lay in bubbly at a reasonable price consider:
Ferrari Brut #352153, $24.95 which Natalie MacLean scored at 92. Italian, crisp, refreshing, best value.
Simonnet-Febvre Brut Crémant de Bourgogne, #126318 $23.95 which is recommended by Robert Whitley of creators.com. He calls it superb example of Crémant de Bourgogne at its finest with aromas of peach, apple and a touch of brioche (that yeasty signature of champagne).