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Bordeaux Shouldn't Make Red Wine  Add/Read Comments

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I'm going to jump right out and say it - Bordeaux shouldn't make red wine.

Perhaps I should clarify - I do not think that the red wines of Bordeaux, those that retail for under £6, especially those set at the £3.99/£4.99 mark, should be made. The upper echelons are fine - the market for the top Château is more than healthy judging by the en premieur prices. Even those wines priced from a tenner up-wards are fine - there is a market for the style. But the bog-standard red wines, those labelled simply 'claret' or utilising an often non-existent château name, you have to ask why bother?

The price point I am talking about - the bottom end of the market - is dominated by the easy drinking, fuller, richer-in-sweet-fruit, brands and labels from the New World, Australia and Chile specifically. The leaner styles from Bordeaux just cannot compete. Having sampled many over the last few weeks mediocrity just doesn't come into it.

From what I surmise wine drinkers who buy bottles at this price are more concerned with value for money and drinkability with out food. You put those New World wines up against a Claret and the latter fails to inspire on all levels. They do not make for easy drinking on their own, they do not give the impression of fullness and value for money. In short why are they making them - they cannot compete.

So, at risk of putting hundreds of producers out of business, what should they produce? White wines!

Wine Tasting at Chateau Bauduc

The distinctive blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon from Bordeaux are across the board excellent. They compare easily with similarly priced Sauvignons from Chile and in many cases offer extra complexity, better balance and more enjoyable drinking. They also have Sauvignon Gris as a point of difference, although plantings are small, and Muscadelle.

And if you want to test my theory six white Bordeaux recommendations (although these come in a little higher than the £4.99 level) -

Château Thieuley, Cuvee Francis Courselle, 2005, Entre-Deux-Mers
Offers the crisp freshness of Sauvignon, a lemony edge from Semillon, a dash of Sauvignon Gris all layered with a new French oak spiciness.

Château Ducla, 2005, Entre-Deux-Mers
A blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 355 Semillon and 15% Muscadelle

Château Ducla Experience, 2005, Entre-Deux-Mers
Good texture and weight with sweet grapefruit and strawberry flavours, made from Sauvignon Gris. A little residual sugar and some oak influence. Excellent at about £9 a bottle.

Château Bauduc Semillon, 2004, Entre-Deux-Mers
100% barrel fermented Semillon, crisp, limey, creamy. Around £8 a bottle.

Château Bauduc Les Trois Hectares 2004, Bordeaux Blanc
Listed at all the Ramsay restaurants and at Rick Stein’s a barrel aged Sauvignon blanc. Direct from the vineyard at £9 a bottle.

Château Brown Sauvignon Blanc, 2005, Pessac-Leogan
Superbly aromatic, passion fruit, nettley finish, crisp and lifted. Delicious.

Semillon Wine Barrels at Château Brown

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Andrew, I agree with you for the most part, but sometimes I find that I want a light red with dinner, and I don't want to pay more for it. The reds of Aussie and Chile can sometimes be overbearing and compete with the food because of their headiness. I think most cheap Aussie reds are fun for drinking with entrees, tapas, or just for the sake of drinking, but I do not find that they are often complementary on most nights with dinner at the table. In this case, I would prefer a cheap and light Bordeaux red. Of course, it is a different case when one is wanting to specifically pair wine with food, but even then I shy away from cheap Aussie reds. (Don't get me wrong, their syrahs are great!)

Good point, well put - but why not go for the lighter wines from Beaujolais and the Loire rather than a half-baked relation from Bordeaux?

I agree. It's hard enough keeping up with all the decent chateaux, first growths, second growths etc etc without also trying to recall which of the cheaper Bordeaux are half decent. Whereas if I want something easily drinkable I know I can look for say a New World merlot and will probably enjoy it wherever it comes from. Given the French penchant for unclear labels you are never quite sure what it is exactly you are drinking.

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