The prices of the top Bordeaux reds are down this year, though you can still pay hundreds of pounds a bottle for the most famous labels. What puzzles me is the way that some of the smaller, unknown chateaux imagine that because Chinese millionaires pay ludicrous sums for the great names, they can overcharge for their own inferior fluids. There is no trickledown effect in wine prices. The rest of the world is making dazzling wines which can retail here for £7–£10, so why should we bother with their thin, chalky, mouth-puckering effluents?
Which is why the merchant Simon Wrightson has tracked down three clarets, all from the golden years of 2009 and 2010, which really are delicious and excellent value. All are drinking well now, but they will go on improving for two or more years, so if you buy now you’ll have superb glugging in quantity for a long time.
The first, Ch. Bel Air de l’Orme 2009 (2), is the wine Simon is serving at his daughter’s wedding later this year. I thought it had deep, dark, undergrowth flavours, and as the chateau tells us (their translation) ‘with melted tannins and it delights us with delicious blackcurrant and black berries notes’. I could not have put it better in English. Drinking now till 2015, £8 a -bottle.
Ch. La Tonnelle 2009 (3) is lighter, being principally Merlot, and has an agreeable smoky feel. A drink-anytime wine, though it will mature: as the makers tells us, ‘good aptitude for measuring a long time in bottles’, which Simon reckons means it will go on getting even better up to 2017. £9 a bottle.
Ch. Ronan has recently won much praise and many happy customers. It’s one of the few wines with its own merchandising line, like a rock star’s world tour, including iPhone protectors and polo shirts. Frankly I would stick to the wine, which is all Merlot, and very stylish indeed. The 2010 (4) has ‘creamy raspberry and fresh spices, persistent and juicy finish’, in their words, and they’re right. £10 a bottle. Drink for the next two years.
I have added a lovely Touraine Sauvignon from Dme Gibault 2012 (1) because it’s delicious. Sauvignon Blanc is so popular now that a lot of very inferior stuff is being churned out. Ignore it. This is dry, but rich and fruity, perfect as an aperitif but just as good with food. £9.40.
Delivery is free, and there is a sample case including three of each bottle.
Prices include VAT and delivery on the British mainland. Payment should be made either by cheque with the order, payable to the wine merchant, or by debit or credit card, details of which may be telephoned or faxed.
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