WT101: Budget Bordeaux

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WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Apr 03, 2006 5:12 pm

<table align=right width=206><tr><td>Image</td></tr></table>WT101 - Budget Bordeaux

One of the most historic wine regions of France (and therefore the world), and not coincidentally one of the most respected, Bordeaux has enjoyed fame outside its home region for close to 2,000 years. The Roman poet Ausonius (whose name lives on in the highly regarded Chateau Ausone) wrote of the region's wines with pride in the 4th Century AD. Its connection with England, where the fine red wines were known as "claret" for their then unusual clarity, dates to 1152, when the French princess Eleanor of Acquitaine married the British prince Henry Plantagenet, who would soon be crowned King of England.

With such a storied history, it's no surprise that Bordeaux makes some of the world's best-known wines. It produces the lion's share of France's top-end wines, and its most sought-after labels - such as most of those classified as "classed growths" in the great Medoc Classification of 1855 - command dramatic prices. Indeed, Bordeaux's economic fortunes thrived so well for so long that its landscape is dotted with the elegant chateaux that adorn the labels of many of the region's top wines.

Particularly since the 1980s, when critical acclaim and wide publicity dramatically expanded the U.S. market, many high-end Bordeaux have all but priced themselves out of reach for most consumers. Sadly, moreover, the quality that distinguishes the high-end wines trickles down only spottily at best to the more affordable price range; there's no really polite way to say that much of low-end Bordeaux is plonkish at best.

Is there any way for most of us to experience the character that has made top Bordeaux so sought-after for so long? We hope so. That's the challenge of this month's topic in our Wine Tasting 101: Budget Bordeaux. We'll suggest specific wines that represent the region well, and talk about more general buying tips for exploring some of Bordeaux's less-familiar (and thus less price-driven) "satellite" appellations; and we'll try to provide an easy roadmap through the often confusing thicket of good, bad and mediocre vintages, as well as talk a bit about cellaring and maturing this, one of the world's most purportedly ageworthy wines.

To get us started, I've selected Chateau Larose-Trintaudon 2000 Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois as the month's top "benchmark" wine. It's a good, widely available Left Bank Bordeaux with a long track record for good quality and value near the low end of the "serious" range. I found it locally for just under $20; you'll find my tasting report below.

You're encouraged to try this wine and other affordably priced Bordeaux during April, and share your comments about them - as well as asking any questions you may have about Bordeaux, in our interactive online forums.

For those who want a Right Bank comparison, look for something like this affordable example: Vieux Château Haut Béard 2000 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru ($20.99). On the lower-priced shelves, consider a "satellite" appellation such as Bourg or Blaye, such as this one: Château Bertinerie 2001 Premières Côtes de Blaye ($12.49).

JOIN IN WT101:
The basic conversations in Wine Tasting 101 are posted on our Netscape WineLovers Community, where you'll find today's column at this link. You're also welcome to participate in related discussions in this forum, by reply to this post or by starting a new topic.

<table align=right width=130><tr><td>Image</td></tr></table>Chateau Larose-Trintaudon 2000 Cru Bourgeois Haut-Médoc ($19.19)

Sporting a typical Left Bank blend of 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon with 20 percent each Cabernet Franc and Merlot, this is a very dark reddish-purple wine with a clear garnet edge. Its aromas of blackcurrant and leather are characteristic of Bordeaux, and the flavors are typical of the region, too: Black fruit and earth follow the nose, with medium body, crisp acidity and soft if rather "green" tannins to build a food-friendly if slightly austere structure. At this price point, it's not as complex or as ageworthy as a classed growth, but it certainly gives a clear sense of Bordeaux. U.S. importer: Diageo Chateau and Estate Wines, NYC (April 2, 2006)

FOOD MATCH: Rare beef or lamb makes an ideal accompaniment to Bordeaux; this one was fine with pan-seared flatiron steaks.

VALUE: By Bordeaux standards, $25 is more than fair for a good-quality wine from a top vintage; viewed against a broader range of competition, let's face it: Even in the "budget" range, Bordeaux is a bit overpriced.

WHEN TO DRINK: Like most lower-end Bordeaux, Larose-Trintaudon isn't really made with long, collectible-style aging in mind. That said, however, cellaring this 2000 for five more years might pay a dividend in complexity and a more mature flavor profile.

WEB LINK:
The Larose-Trintaudon Website is available in French and English. You'll have to look closely to see the rather dim French and United Kingdom flags at the upper left; click for the language of your choice.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Look up prices and locate sources for Larose-Trintaudon on Wine-Searcher.com.
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Apr 03, 2006 9:32 pm

Otto seems to have got the ball rolling nicely already over there and I am not far behind with two wines to write up. I hope all forumites will keep an eye on WT 101 over on Netscape, I know some forumites are keen to keep the wine interest going on this particular forum. I would post my notes here (from 101) but do not have the faintest idea how to do it!! Hello Bill...are you there!!!!
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Apr 03, 2006 10:11 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:OI would post my notes here (from 101) but do not have the faintest idea how to do it!! Hello Bill...are you there!!!!


It's easy, Bob! Just select and copy from one forum, then open a message and paste the contents in on the other!
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby OW Holmes » Tue Apr 04, 2006 11:39 am

Robin Garr wrote:
VALUE: By Bordeaux standards, $25 is more than fair for a good-quality wine from a top vintage; viewed against a broader range of competition, let's face it: Even in the "budget" range, Bordeaux is a bit overpriced.

I wonder how many agree with Robin.
I think budget bordeaux stacks up well against Cal Cabs or Cal Meritage of the same price, which is certainly within the "broader range of competition." Certainly it is more expensive than the cheapest Australian Cab or Cab/Syrah blends, but I don't consider them the same wine, or even close. Same for South American. I have several inexpensive 2000 bordeaux I will share with our thursday night office tasting group (we are now following the WLDG WT101 selections) and see how my group feels.
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Apr 04, 2006 11:55 am

OW Holmes wrote:I wonder how many agree with Robin.
I think budget bordeaux stacks up well against Cal Cabs or Cal Meritage of the same price, which is certainly within the "broader range of competition."


It's okay, OW, I embrace dissent. :) Seriously, though ... I dunno. It just feels to me that I've got to pay $25 for the same level of enjoyment from Bordeaux that I can get for $15 from Tuscany or the Rhone, and that the $10 realm (AOC Bordeaux or Bordeaux Superieur in particular) can be a real minefield. I'll look forward to hearing the results of your tasting.
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby OW Holmes » Tue Apr 04, 2006 1:23 pm

I guess we don't disagree. I misinterpreted your comment about the "broader range of competition" - construing it to mean a narrower broad range of competition, i.e., wines made of cabernet and or cabernet/merlot type blends. I also can find more enjoyment among cheap wines of the southern rhone than wines of the same price in Bordeaux. I had a really nice 2003 Perrin Reserve CdR last night that cost all of $7.10, and I don't think I've ever had a bordeaux in that price range, and haven't found one under $10 that I enjoyed as much. But that's because I like the style, flavor, structure, etc... I don't really consider them "competitors" of bordeaux style wines, however.
Do you think that as compared to cabernet or cab/merlot blends from elsewhere, Bargain Bordeaux is overpriced?
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Apr 04, 2006 1:54 pm

OW Holmes wrote:I guess we don't disagree. I misinterpreted your comment about the "broader range of competition" - construing it to mean a narrower broad range of competition, i.e., wines made of cabernet and or cabernet/merlot type blends.


Ahh ... no, in fairness, when I talk about QPR I think it's only reasonable to expect a wine to justify its price both against similar competition and against other price categories. $20 to $30 is already getting well above daily-drinking range for many wine geeks, and if I can think of another wine - moreover, other Old World, food-friendly reds - that offer me at least equal pleasure at a significantly lower price point, then that has to play into the value equation.

Do you think that as compared to cabernet or cab/merlot blends from elsewhere, Bargain Bordeaux is overpriced?


Restated that way, I guess I don't disagree with you. I actually like California Cabs, but in fairness, I'd say their quality and price are comparable in the upper teens through $30s range. And I can't think of any reliable source of cheaper Cabs of significantly lower quality. Sorry, but $10 Chileans and Australians don't do it for me.
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Apr 04, 2006 2:28 pm

This conversation is all very interesting!! When are we goona see some tasting notes over there!! LOL>
Dourthe #1 has not had a mention here yet. Thats budget I`d say, lots of different calls on the white including a verbose dislike from Broadbent!
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby OW Holmes » Tue Apr 04, 2006 2:31 pm

Robin Garr wrote: Sorry, but $10 Chileans and Australians don't do it for me.

We are in complete agreement there!!!!
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Peter May » Tue Apr 04, 2006 2:40 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote: Dourthe #1 has not had a mention here yet. Thats budget I`d say, lots of different calls on the white including a verbose dislike from Broadbent!


They were tasting Dourthe No. 1 in the supermarket at the weekend. I thought both were overpriced, the Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon £5.99 was OK but I'd rather buy a NZ, SA or Chile Sauvignon Blanc instead. The Barrel Select Saint-Emilion 2004 was thin stalky and green and at £10.49 worth a fiver.

However, the Larose-Trintauden 2000 is £25 at Berry Bros & Rudd and that isn't what I'd call a budget claret.
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Dale Williams » Tue Apr 04, 2006 3:28 pm

Peter May wrote:However, the Larose-Trintauden 2000 is £25 at Berry Bros & Rudd and that isn't what I'd call a budget claret.


Wow, bizarre price. I usually think I see slightly better prices on Bdx in UK vs. USA, but 2000 Larose-Trintaudon has been widely available in NY area at under $15 (as low as $11).

As to the general question of QPR, wines like the '98, '00, '01 Cap de Faugeres, "99 or '00 Ste. Colombe, '00 Haut-Chaigneau, etc compete pretty well across the board for my tastes.
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Apr 04, 2006 3:49 pm

Dale Williams wrote:2000 Larose-Trintaudon has been widely available in NY area at under $15 (as low as $11).


Might be a lot of loss-leader selling going on there, Dale. Wine-Searcher Pro shows it quite variable around the US from $13 to $23, but mostly $15 and up. (Interestingly, the highest prices are all at Wine.com.)
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Jenise » Tue Apr 04, 2006 4:01 pm

OW Holmes wrote:
Robin Garr wrote:
VALUE: By Bordeaux standards, $25 is more than fair for a good-quality wine from a top vintage; viewed against a broader range of competition, let's face it: Even in the "budget" range, Bordeaux is a bit overpriced.

I wonder how many agree with Robin.


I don't!!! Rather, I think Bordeaux is a great bargain these days for age of vine, style and class. Witness, just for instance, 2001 Grand Puy Lacoste at Costco for $21.99. Where else on earth can you buy a wine of that quality for so low a price, or even half again more? And the secondary market is saturated with good Bordeaux at well under retail.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Apr 04, 2006 6:00 pm

This conversation is quite interesting and there appears to be more comment here than on the actual WT 101 forum over at the other place! I know that Robin wants to keep Wt over there (for the time being) but I think that is important that somehow we repost over here. I do not have the time or the know-how to do that so what is going to happen??

Otto and myself appear keen to get this month up and running (have you been over there of late?) but we need some more imput please.

Robin or whoever, can we think about this please?
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Apr 04, 2006 6:08 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:Robin or whoever, can we think about this please?


Of course, Bob! This is a work in progress. And I'm glad to see good Bordeaux talk happening on both forums.

Is cross-posting that difficult and time-consuming, though? All you have to do is post on one forum, then select the text with your mouse, type Ctrl-C to copy it into memory (clipboard), then go to the other forum, open a new post, and type Ctrl-V to paste the copy in. Add a title, submit, and you're good to go!
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Dale Williams » Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:47 am

Robin Garr wrote:
Might be a lot of loss-leader selling going on there, Dale. Wine-Searcher Pro shows it quite variable around the US from $13 to $23, but mostly $15 and up. (Interestingly, the highest prices are all at Wine.com.)


I generally notice that wine.com usually challenges those Total outlets in the South for highest prices.

I'm guessing the L-T's distributor (is this a C & E wine?) did a re-release recently, at a slighthly higher price, as there are more available now than a year ago. But if Zachy's has it for $18 non-sale, you can be sure $14 is a fair price (at release it was available at Zachys for $10). 25 pounds is about $45, and that is crazy.
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Robin Garr » Wed Apr 05, 2006 10:19 am

Dale Williams wrote:(is this a C & E wine?)


It is indeed ... seems funny after all these years to see "Diageo C&E" on a bottle ... the Seagram disaster has to be one of the strangest business stories of a very strange era.

But if Zachy's has it for $18 non-sale, you can be sure $14 is a fair price (at release it was available at Zachys for $10).


Now you're hurting my feelings, given that it was $19-something here, although in fairness, per Wine-Searcher, this seems to be reasonably close to the national median. Which, again, is why we're seeing some debate about the QPR of budget Bordeaux ... a lot apparently depends on widely variable pricing from one market to another.

Dale Williams wrote:25 pounds is about $45, and that is crazy.


No joke! I have to think that Peter ran into an outlier, because, again, check Wine-Searcher for international pricing, and the results just don't substantiate a price like that. In fact, Balthazar in London is offering a whole case of the 2000 for about $200 US.
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Apr 05, 2006 7:22 pm

Do I press "ctrl" key same time as "c"?
When I go to other forum, do I go to the main page? Click on "new"?
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Robin Garr » Wed Apr 05, 2006 8:02 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:Do I press "ctrl" key same time as "c"?
When I go to other forum, do I go to the main page? Click on "new"?


Exactly right on all counts, Bob! Ctrl-C puts whatever you have highlighted into the computer's memory, nicknamed "Windows Clipboard." Go to the other forum, start a new post in the regular way. Then just click Ctrl-V (also at the same time), and it "pastes" a copy of the contents of memory into the new location.

This is standard Windows stuff, Bob ... I didn't realize you didn't know it already, but it's good to know ... you'll find that you can use it in lots of applications.
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TN: `96 Tronquoy-Lalande--St. Estephe.

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:18 am

Open one hour, not decanted. 12.5% and I believe 50% merlot. No sediment noted in the final pours.
This wine was the best claret I have tasted this month, by a long shot.

TN: `96 Tronquoy-Lalande--St. Estephe.

Colour. Dull ruby-red, just a hint of bricking on the rim. Medium intense centre and big clinging legs.

Nose. Raspberry, cassis and floral! There`s some gravel, earthyness here along with some oak. What one would expect in a Graves I`d say?

Palate. The initial mouthfeel is very pleasant w. soft tannins and good balance. This has aged nicely and not as rustic as I expected (a previous vintage). Not a lot of sweetness here, has cherry and herbs, hint of cedar box. Bright acidity and it all seems nicely knit together. This was a good vintage eh. I see the `97 on the shelf in town for around $23 Cdn.

****Held up well after 24 hrs and no sign of deterioration. Not much developement either!
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:29 am

TN: `88 Ch.Cordet--Margaux.

Secondary label for Monbrison, winemaker Jean-Luc Vonderheydes who died in `92. I know this is not exactly budget but close to $30.00 in a cellar building program I used to participate in years ago.

Colour. Still showing some remnants of life! Nice dull rainbow of ruby/cherry which leads to a browning rim. Very good viscousity.

Nose. Nice mature Bordeaux...cigar box, tobacco, savoury. Slight veggie tones soon dissapate. No funk with this one forumites! It`s showing really nicely I thought and fellow taster thought "is it really that old?".
Lots of blackcurrant and hints of chocolate. Nice initial mouthfeel tells me this has life. There are still some tannins here, coating the upper gums. Good balance here with some sweetness on the finish. "At its peak, maybe at its best a year or two ago" was a comment but I felt go now! This is drinking well to my utter surprise and would stand up to many of the higher end Margaux out there.The acidity level remaining was a big plus I thought

*****after 24 hrs. The finish has really lenghtened out and gained some complexity. More black fruits and tobacco pouch. This is great stuff. Next up...Potensac.
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Apr 16, 2006 11:00 pm

I have just opened and decanted a `01 Ch. Roquetaillade La Grange, Graves. Bit young but some nice character from this well established chateau. Will post tasting notes on WT 101 asap.
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Re: WT101: Budget Bordeaux

Postby Robin Garr » Sun Apr 16, 2006 11:14 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:Will post tasting notes on WT 101 asap.


Bob, we opened a surprisingly nice inexpensive negociant White Bordeaux with Easter ham this afternoon, Clercy Grossard 2003 Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc. There wasn't a lot of complexity there, but really nice, crisp and correct fruit flavors and a good medium-bodied mouthfeel, probably from the 10 percent Semillon. I'll report in WT101 soon, too.
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