Let’s be honest, when you have 7,891 wine selections to choose from it can be a bit overwhelming. Everyone has their favorites from their area of expertise, and I surely have mine. So, let’s start with some thoughts on Bordeaux and then move around the wine world. Always remember, the duty of every wine is to taste good; and wine does not have to be outrageously expensive or highly rated to taste good. One of the greatest quotes I heard last year was made by a supremely confident friend of ours, Anthony Barton, owner of Léoville and Langoa-Barton. “I hope my wine doesn’t get too many points! If it does, everyone will want it, the price will go sky high, and nobody will drink it!” Moral of this story, Barton is the wine you buy first in every Bordeaux vintage—a great wine and always reasonably priced. The 2003 Bordeaux vintage is loaded with tasty wines, and a few really stand out, including the killer trio of second wines from the great 2nd growths: 2003 Clos du Marquis ($39.99) from Léoville-Las-Cases, 2003 Pagodes de Cos ($31.99) from Cos d’Estournel and 2003 Reserve de La Comtesse ($31.99) from Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. There is no question in my mind that the very best wine of greatness from 2003 for the money is the ancient estate of 2003 Malescot-St-Exupery ($48.99). This 3rd growth is the third best wine in the commune of Margaux today after Ch. Margaux and Ch. Palmer. Very rich and deep textured, regal, serious and supple at the same time. Outrageously good. 2003 Ch. Lynch Bages ($64.99) and 2003 Ch. Poujeaux ($27.99) are close behind for value, and the quality of wine made today at 5th growth 2003 Ch. Pontet Canet ($69.99) rivals or betters every famous wine in Bordeaux today! Buy these wines, and you will thank me later. In my opinion, the 2003 vintage was the best ever from Lafon Rochet, Duhart-Milon, and Domaine de Chevalier. Don’t miss the 2005 Rosé de Chevalier ($10.99) my favorite pre-dinner appetizer wine along with the 2005 Domaine de Pepiere “Vielles Vignes” Clos de Briords Muscadet ($12.99) 2000 Denios Chardonnay Sainte Marie ($14.99) and looked at the cost, my heart rate sky rocketed! Seriously, I had to control my emotions, I calmly looked up at Clyde and whispered “Buy everything he’s got of this, it’s incredible. I’ll sell it all, this taste like great Meursault!” Also, the 2001 Brunellos are the real deal, and every well-rounded wine collection should have a cross section. Fine red wines and well priced. And I can’t leave out the fat, lush and ultra-sweet 2003 Sauternes! Another fantastic vintage that flew under the radar of the monumental press generated by 2001; a little less acid and more creamy sweetness is the difference! Buy some for your sweety! Please feel free to contact me anytime at ex 2723 or Ralph@klwines.com with any questions or advice on the wines of Bordeaux. Cheers and Toujours Bordeaux! —Ralph Sands
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
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