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Wine Advisor Express:
Affordable Bordeaux: Oxymoron?

Like a lot of wine lovers I know, I don't drink much Bordeaux these days. A string of lackluster vintages during most of the '90s was accompanied by a remarkable runup in prices that seemed to disconnect variations in vintage quality from market price.

This trend culminated last week at the huge Vinexpo wine show in Paris, when several of the "first growth" producers - Chateaus Latour, Margaux, Haut-Brion and Mouton-Rothschild - prompted wine lovers around the world to suck in our breath in a collective gasp as they offered their 2000 vintage wholesale at 1,400 French francs a bottle, about $180 a bottle or $2,200 a case. This could yield price tags as high as $5,000 for a case by the time these limited supplies reach the retail market in two years.

The other major Bordeaux producers will certainly follow suit, effectively pricing all but the wealthiest and most passionate collectors out of the market.

What's an everyday wine lover to do? Is it possible to get a glimpse of what Bordeaux - arguably one of the world's best wine regions - is all about, without having to take out a second mortgage?

Today's wine report offers one approach: Even in mediocre vintages, canny consumers can find producers that outperformed their peers; and relative value can often be had in the less sought-after regions. By shopping the 1998 vintage (when a rainy harvest caused problems in some areas, but only after a searing August fostered full ripening), and looking at the Lalande-a-Pomerol region (a low-rent neighbor of the more "desirable" Pomerol), I ended up with this pleasant, Merlot-based Bordeaux for a relatively affordable $14.

Chateau des Annereaux 1998 Lalande de Pomerol ($13.99)
Inky dark-ruby in color, this youthful wine offers fresh black-cherry and blackberry aromas with grace notes of cedar and cinnamon. Tart-cherry fruit flavors are acidic and softly tannic; sour cherries linger in a rather long finish. Softens and gains complexity with time in the glass; a stylish Bordeaux at a rational price. U.S. importer: Ex-Cellars Wine Agencies Inc., Solvang, Calif. (June 19, 2001)

FOOD MATCH: Showing Bordeaux's natural affinity for beef, it marries well with meatballs on pasta tossed with barely cooked, thin-sliced fresh cabbage.

Follow-up:
Price of Cloudy Bay

I inadvertently omitted the price of the Cloudy Bay 2000 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc reported yesterday. I paid $22.99 for it at retail in Louisville, Ky., making it one of the priciest Sauvignon Blancs on the market.

Express Notes:
Administrivia

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Wednesday, June 20, 2001
Copyright 2001 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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