WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

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WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Mar 30, 2006 5:43 pm

April is at hand, so we're looking at the topic for next month's Wine Tasting 101, which will also be our first effort at a joint-forum program, with the "official" WT101 on Netscape but a strong backup effort over here for follow-up discussions.

Some important questions for which we'd welcome input:

* Any preference for "Budget Bordeaux" or "Bargain Bordeaux"? Do these names have different connotations for you?

* What price point makes the most sense for the cutoff? I'm thinking $25, which isn't so low that it restricts the range to absolute plonk, but isn't high enough to make a joke out of "budget/bargain".

* Anyone care to nominate an excellent, widely available benchmark wine or several?

This topic is also under discussion on the Netscape WineLovers Community. Click here for the thread.
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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Otto » Thu Mar 30, 2006 5:51 pm

I guess the 25 dollars is a good reference point - if you will allow us poor Norsemen with greedy monopolies to use 25 euros as a cut off point! I've noticed usually that what costs here 20 euros will be 15-20 dollars on the other side of the pond....

Some good left bankers: Brillette, d'Agassac, Aurilhac, Cambon-la-Pelouse (beware - modern style, atypical Bordeaux so prob not a good one though widely available), Cissac, Labarde, Liversan, Malescasses.

Some good right bankers: Cap de Mourlin, Fonbel, Dassault...

I think it would be good to have both banks as they are very different styles yet have a certain sameness to them anyhow.

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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Dale Williams » Thu Mar 30, 2006 5:57 pm

Robin Garr wrote:* Anyone care to nominate an excellent, widely available benchmark wine or several?
.


Maybe you should have a benchmark Right Bank and a benchmark Medoc?

Medoc:
Most non-hyped vintages of Gloria are under $25.
Potensac & Cantemerle are usually decent, and Larose Trintaudon is probably the most widely available (outside of Mouton Cadet type sh....um, plonk).

Good Right Bank (mostly satellite) wines:
d'Aiguilhe, Cap de Faugeres, Fontenil, La Vieille Cure, Les Trois Croix.

The issue of course is that there's obviously a lot of vintage variation. For the most part I'd steer clear of the 2002 Right Banks (though the d'Aiguilhe is pretty good, though young).
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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Mar 30, 2006 6:01 pm

Otto Nieminen wrote:I guess the 25 dollars is a good reference point - if you will allow us poor Norsemen with greedy monopolies to use 25 euros as a cut off point!


Good idea, Otto! Consider it done.
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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Charles Weiss » Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:47 pm

Robin,
I'd suggest you go with "budget" since I think you're talking about price, whereas "bargain" may be more about value for money (which any recommendable budget wine would be) but in a much broader price range.
Just my $25...er... 2 cents.
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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Mar 30, 2006 11:15 pm

I'd suggest you go with "budget" since I think you're talking about price, whereas "bargain" may be more about value for money (which any recommendable budget wine would be) but in a much broader price range.
Just my $25...er... 2 cents.


Thanks, Charles. $0.02 well spent!
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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Bill Hooper » Fri Mar 31, 2006 1:55 am

I think there are a ton QPR right and left bank wines, the problem is finding one that's availiable everywhere. Most local importers go for small St. Emillion satellite and Cotes producers that vary from state to state, and country to country. Maybe it would be better to suggest AOC's to try instead of producers. I dunno, that might be too broad for what you're looking to do. I would just be wary of the Bordeaux that's too wide-spread and under $25. I don't know that I've liked many. I like the idea though, it really gets one thinking...

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A second vote for Larose Trintaudon

Postby Doug Surplus » Fri Mar 31, 2006 1:55 am

it's widely available, reasonably priced and waayyy better than Mouton Cadet.
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Re: A second vote for Larose Trintaudon

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Mar 31, 2006 9:43 am

Doug Surplus wrote:it's widely available, reasonably priced and waayyy better than Mouton Cadet.


Good one, Doug. I'll definitely try to find it locally, and that (I hope!) shouldn't be hard to do. Wonder who the importer is ... Wildman, maybe?
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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby AlexR » Fri Mar 31, 2006 10:36 am

Hi Robin,

My first post on this new forum (am rather confused as to why there had to be two, but there you are....):

[quote]Any preference for "Budget Bordeaux" or "Bargain Bordeaux"? Do these names have different connotations for you?[/quote]

I prefer "Bargain Bordeaux" because it sounds more positive than budget.

[quote]What price point makes the most sense for the cutoff? I'm thinking $25, which isn't so low that it restricts the range to absolute plonk, but isn't high enough to make a joke out of "budget/bargain".[/quote]

In Bordeaux, good wine starts at 5 euros, with a fine, upmarket Côtes wine costing perhaps 10 euros.

As mentioned above the Côtes provide the best value in Bordeaux: Côtes de Bourg, Côtes de Blaye, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux and, above all, Côtes de Castillon.

The key here is "widely available". The Bordelais invented the concept of château wines. However that can work against them because any one estate only produces only so much wine...

In other words, there is no estate big enough to produce enough wine to slake the thirst of a country like the United States! I think only a brand like Mouton Cadet could be considered "widely available".

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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Manuel Camblor » Fri Mar 31, 2006 12:18 pm

Robin Garr wrote:Anyone care to nominate an excellent, widely available benchmark wine or several?

This topic is also under discussion on the Netscape WineLovers Community. Click here for the thread.


Well, back in the days of my "My Vote for Values" series, I expressed concern about $15 being the new $8, or $20 being the new $10, or whatever... We are living a moment when the definitions of "value wine" and "extraordinary QPR" are shifting. We're having to pay quite a bit more at the wine store for interesting wines from almost anywhere. Which sucks, yes.

I also happen to have dropped Bordeaux from my buying schedule almost entirely on account of most of the regon having gone over to the dark side and producing pointy garbage that no longer resembles any notion I may have once held of what constitutes worthy claret, let alone "good wine".

So how can I venture a "Bordeaux Bargain" recco, given these circumstances? Well, every once in a while I find that a producer has remianed consistent over the years and that they haven't joined the greedfest yet. So, without further ado, allow me to nominate Château Cantemerle, in Macau, Haut Médoc, which retails for about $22, as the epitomy of really nice claret at a wonderful price.

The 2001 and 2002 versions are bothe lovely and quite balanced.

Other candidates would be Château Poujeaux in Moulis, or Château Sociando-Mallet, another Haut-Médoc. Alas, I've seen bottles from these two properties priced (by some greedy merchants) closer to $30-35 than $20, so one must do some shopping around.
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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Mar 31, 2006 12:21 pm

Manuel Camblor wrote:Château Cantemerle ... Château Poujeaux ... Château Sociando-Mallet


Nice rant! And, good nominees all, although I have a feeling they've blown past the $25 point at a lot of US merchants. I'll take a look.

Dare I ask your opinion of the twice-nominated Larose-Trintaudon?
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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Manuel Camblor » Fri Mar 31, 2006 12:29 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Manuel Camblor wrote:Château Cantemerle ... Château Poujeaux ... Château Sociando-Mallet


Nice rant! And, good nominees all, although I have a feeling they've blown past the $25 point at a lot of US merchants. I'll take a look.

Dare I ask your opinion of the twice-nominated Larose-Trintaudon?


Larose-Trintaudon... That's a name from the past. I'm afraid I can't vouch for it beyond the 1998 vintage. Back then it used to be quite okay. I may even have some in the cellar.

I found 2001 cantemerle at a cuple of local merchants for around $23. And there were mags of the 2002 available for slightly under $40.

Of course, that's here in NYC...
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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Mar 31, 2006 12:40 pm

Manuel Camblor wrote:Of course, that's here in NYC...


New York, New York, the city so nice that they named it twice! Thanks, Manuel.
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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Manuel Camblor » Fri Mar 31, 2006 1:05 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Manuel Camblor wrote:Of course, that's here in NYC...


New York, New York, the city so nice that they named it twice! Thanks, Manuel.


I think that Alex gives a very important tip. The various wines of the Côtes seem to provide much better value for money these days than those of the more "established" (i.e. recognizable) appelations. I also had something quite decent from Lalande-de-Pomerol the other day, but its name escapes me right now.

Of course, in this WT101 instance, you may be bestserved by a wine that is more "classic" in its construction, more of a "textbook example" of what Bordeaux coud do. Which is why I brought up Cantemerle. Alas, considering the direction in which things have been going over the past few years, it might be more illuminating to focus on the pointy wines of the now. Alas, I don't know that those come cheaply...

Just for reference purposes, my heart was broken yet again the other day when I read that one of my favorite addresses in Graves, Domaine de Chevalier, had gotten all consultanted up and "updated" the style of their red to attain a more immediately appealing profile.

Painful.
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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Paul B. » Fri Mar 31, 2006 1:18 pm

Robin, I've had the 1995 and 2000 Larose-Trintaudon and I think you'd like the wine in general. It's a Cru Bourgeois that typically has good Cab elements in it (ie. leathery blackcurrant). I like it.

In fact I posted a TN on one in the old new forum a while back.
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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Mar 31, 2006 1:20 pm

A few thoughts...

La Prade (Cote de Francs) is a very nice wine for a small price.

I thought the 2002 Fombrauge was a pretty good St. Emilion. (Yes it's somewhat spoofulated, but it's still good.)

Budget Bordeaux works for me in the same way it works for Charles. I agree bargain sounds better, but these days it means something different.
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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Jenise » Fri Mar 31, 2006 1:36 pm

[quote="Manuel Camblor]
Just for reference purposes, my heart was broken yet again the other day when I read that one of my favorite addresses in Graves, Domaine de Chevalier, had gotten all consultanted up and "updated" the style of their red to attain a more immediately appealing profile.

Painful.[/quote]

F word! I hope this is a post-98 vintage event and that at least those wines were safe.

But I am happy with your nomination of Cantemerle. Worthy wine, and also is cements my reccomendation to Mr. Musar that he seek out this wine.
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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Manuel Camblor » Fri Mar 31, 2006 1:53 pm

Jenise wrote:
F word! I hope this is a post-98 vintage event and that at least those wines were safe.

But I am happy with your nomination of Cantemerle. Worthy wine, and also is cements my reccomendation to Mr. Musar that he seek out this wine.


Yep, the DDC move was quite recent...
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What is a "classic claret"?

Postby James Roscoe » Fri Mar 31, 2006 3:54 pm

Having just started into the whole wine geek thing in the past three years I may have missed the boat on the "classic" Bordeaux style. If, as Manuel and others say, that most Bordeaux are being made in a more "new world" style, perhaps I haven't tasted the old style of clarets. So what is the difference? What am I looking for? What are the taste differences? Could someone enlighten a poor newbie?
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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Otto » Fri Mar 31, 2006 4:23 pm

Manuel Camblor wrote:
Just for reference purposes, my heart was broken yet again the other day when I read that one of my favorite addresses in Graves, Domaine de Chevalier, had gotten all consultanted up and "updated" the style of their red to attain a more immediately appealing profile.

Painful.


Whaaaat? Which year did this happen in? I just recently tasted the 2002 red and white and both seemed classic Graves to me. Their second wines where however classics of what the therapists call spoofulated. But I didn't see such in the Grand Vins - though maybe it being a tasting setting made me miss that bit.

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Re: WT101 concept help needed: Budget/Bargain Bordeaux

Postby Otto » Fri Mar 31, 2006 4:26 pm

Jenise wrote:But I am happy with your nomination of Cantemerle. Worthy wine, and also is cements my reccomendation to Mr. Musar that he seek out this wine.


I am seeking it out, Jenise. But none of the shops which I've been making my tasting bottle orders from have had any recently so I'm still looking. (It's too expensive to ship just a few bottles from where they would have these so I've been trying to append them to a case I buy for tastings...) From your writings, I would say that it is just my sort of Claret so I am fervently seeking it!

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Re: What is a "classic claret"?

Postby Otto » Fri Mar 31, 2006 4:37 pm

James Roscoe wrote:Having just started into the whole wine geek thing in the past three years I may have missed the boat on the "classic" Bordeaux style. If, as Manuel and others say, that most Bordeaux are being made in a more "new world" style, perhaps I haven't tasted the old style of clarets. So what is the difference? What am I looking for? What are the taste differences? Could someone enlighten a poor newbie?


There has been an unfortunate tendency to use too much new oak, have too ripe grapes, have too high alcohol (i.e. over 12,5% IMO when it comes to this region) and to make the wines approachable early with soft tannins, etc. All in all, it seems that the savoury, beautifully austere type of Claret is dying.

Typical alcohol levels (despite what you will read on the vehement discussions on eBob) used to be 12,5% max for ripe vintages (with well known exceptions like The White Horse 47 at 15%) - often very much below. The Mutton of Rothschild 1949 was only 10,5% according to Michael Broadbent on Neal Martin's interview on his site. No one would consider that wine underripe or not ageworthy. But still there is a tendency from some (or one?) critic(s) to say that high alcohol and high extract and ripe fruit (i.e. what normal tasters consider over-ripe fruit) are what makes Bordeaux so long lived.

The result of all this is that what was considered Claret - a light but savoury AND long lived red wine - has changed to an extracted, overripe and over alcoholic monstorosity at worst. Gladly a few Chateaux still make good traditional style stuff. Haut-Bailly seems to do great stuff year in year out, as do Léoville Barton, Vieux Chateau Certan...

Rambling thoughts, but hopefully coherent and hopefully answer what you asked :)

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Re: What is a "classic claret"?

Postby Paul B. » Fri Mar 31, 2006 4:46 pm

Otto Nieminen wrote:it seems that the savoury, beautifully austere type of Claret is dying.


Otto, although I am not a Bordeaux specialist, I feel the pain ... I really do. This softening down / plumping up / smoothening out trend has hit so many wines already that it isn't funny. It is as if there is a top-down decision being made somewhere that this is invariably what people today want. This style may be bringing wine to unconditioned palates, somewhat coarsely and imprecisely put, "democratizing wine," yes perhaps; but it is not teaching people how to appreciate wine! What it is doing is catering to lowest-common-denominator desires, and that is not something that I can possibly admire.

Now, I know that this will be interpreted as an elitist statement (it already has in past times, past discussions), but anyone who follows my posts knows that that is the last thing I am. I simply believe that austerity in wine is a good and proper thing.

I love the part in Mondovino where Alix and Hubert are discussing their divergent wine styles. Hubert's wines are austere, yet they last the test of time. I absolutely admire and applaud winemakers who (figuratively) tell fashion where to go and stick to their principles.
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