2009 & 10 Bordeaux Superieur: An Early Taste

{TAB}Esteemed importer of fine French wines Michael Corso stopped by the office yesterday. He had in tow 20 wines from Bordeaux. One white, nineteen red. Seven from 2010, thirteen from 2009. Most will end up retailing between eight and ten dollars, with just a couple that might get up around twelve.

{TAB}All the recent hype about Bordeaux has been about the futures campaign, about hyperbolically overhyped vintages, the sustainability of soaring prices and the influence of foreign markets. Only occasionally will you hear the story of the other Bordeaux the ocean of inexpensive but classy wine labelled Bordeaux Superieur. The bottles we tasted, characteristic of less expensive Bordeaux, were from the right bank. That generally means more merlot in the mix for a softer, more approachable style. This stuff garners little critical attention, but deserves notice from people. People like me who like wine that is affordable and drinking well right now. Imagine paying for Bordeaux and taking the bottle home that night!

{TAB}In general, I found these 2010 samples a little rough and green. The fruit is heavily extrated and way up front, but there’s a stemminess to match. The best examples balance up-front fruit with solid tannins. Watch for the 2010 Bordeaux Superieurs to arrive in a few months. There will probably be snow on the ground.

{TAB}The first of the 09′s are just now trickling in. They are, at least right now, drinking better. I’m seeing more up front fruit across a broader spectrum of flavors: black and red raspberry, dry cherry, even some jam and rhubarb notes. Tannins are more in check. I was trying to relate what I like about the 09′s to our French wine buyer, and she said what she’s really looking for and liking in these samples is the Christmas spice quality that so many show. Mostly, they’re noticably less weedy, less overwhelmingly stemmy, without losing the Bordeaux character.

{TAB}And that’s what’s great about inexpensive Bordeaux. Sure there are plenty of affordable cabernet sauvingon and merlot based wines from all around the world, and many really are great. But there will always be the expectation of a style you can look for in Bordeaux, even the cheap stuff. That signature tannic backbone behind the fruit and wood ends up being polished out of so many “internationally styled” wines. As the Binny’s French wine buyer says, “It’s a different taste.” 

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