By the time you read this most of the 2003 vintage Bordeaux will have arrived and the 2004 will have begun hitting our shelves. The following four wines give a good snapshot of the affordable quality that can be found in these two very good but very different vintages. 2003 La Tour de Mons, Margaux ($19.99) Here is a well-made and crowd-pleasing value to buy by the case. This round, rich wine has beautiful flowery aromas that lead to a smooth middle of sweet berries and an elegant finish showing ripe, round tannins. Super easy to drink but with the structure to stand up to hearty food, this is not to be missed. 2003 de Francs “Les Cerisiers,” Cotes de Francs ($16.99) This gem from the unheralded appellation of Cotes de Franc is one of the best bargains in the store and always sells out quickly. Drinking far more seriously than the price would suggest, this has tons of deep, dark blackberry fruit in the substantial middle. The finish is smooth, rich and elegant with very fine tannin. 90 points from Wine Spectator. 2004 Gigault “Cuvee Viva,” Cotes de Blay ($15.99) The 2003 version of this amazing bargain flew off our shelves and the 2004 is every bit as good. This merlot-based wine is bright and smoky with lively dark currant aromas and gobs of round, dark, herb-tinged fruit in the plump middle. The finish is smooth, complex and spicy with just a touch of licorice. 2004 La Confession, St-Emilion ($24.99) This is only the 4th vintage of this sumptuous “garage wine” to be produced, and they make a mere 9000 bottles. Given the microscopic production and artisan quality here it’s hard to understand the low price—but hey, who’s complaining! This is deep purple, firm and tight at first, but with air opens up to reveal heady aromas of flowers and oak. With more aeration we get very sweet fruit, vanilla, allspice and subtle herb showing density, richness, power and elegance. This is an under-priced classic! —Steve Bearden
This month I present to you four of my favorite new values in K&L’s never ending vault of Bordeaux. The 1996 Château Lanessan, Haut-Médoc ($19.99) is a perfect example of Bordeaux that does not play the points game. This is what I imagine Bordeaux tasted like in the 19th century. More spice than fruit here. There is a bit of barnyard, true, but as a component of spice rather than a feature presentation. Add some tart red plum fruit to hold it all together and you have a great wine for beef stew. The 2001 Château la Mission, Lalande de Pomerol ($19.99) is another rustic gem of a Bordeaux, a diamond in the rough perhaps? With its cedar, thyme and red currant nose this wine screams claret. Plum, boysenberry and a mushroom-like quality pack the mid palate, but where this wine really shines is the finish. Plenty of gravelly earth and an Alderwood smoke like spice are both persistent and lengthy. Drinkable now but could age well over the next 6-8 years. In an opposite style, but every bit as enjoyable is the 2003 Hauts de Pontet-Canet, Pauillac ($21.99) . This is perfect for lovers of new world styled wines. Better than 99% of the domestic Cab based wines, this bottle will surely convert many to the values of Bordeaux. A bottomless pit of black cherry and pomegranate, this wine is creamy and coating, all the while being lively and fresh. In two words: absolutely delicious. But the real show stopper of the month is the 2003 Domaine de Chevalier, Pessac-Legonan ($33.99) . This is pure Bordeaux through and through. From its herbaceous nose, to the pure silky texture, to a perfect acid/tannin balance this has it all. This could truly be the best value of the entire 2003 vintage, not only in Bordeaux but in all of France. This is wonderful now and will only continue to get better over the next 8-12 years. A must for any fan of wine, period. —Bryan Brick
Can you believe we started negotiating for this store in May 2005?? It has been a long time coming. Hopefully when you read this column, we will have opened this store. As of writing this (coincidently the first day of K&L’s 31st year), it looks like we have a good shot at opening around February 1!! The store looks beautiful, and there is plenty of parking available. The address is 1400 Vine Street, just a block or so south of Sunset Boulevard. Hope to see you there. —Clyde Beffa Jr
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