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16 April 2013

Bordeaux: "under a tenner... mostly."

With the prices of top Bordeaux reds spiraling ever upwards (except for the 2012 vintage perhaps, which the trade and critics are expressing misgivings about quality-wise) making these wines for well-off investors only, it's nice to find a few tasty bottles for under a tenner - and one, the last red featured below, for £15 from M&S though it's very good. The first three tasting-noted here, a red white and rosé trio, are available from a fairly new on-line specialist called www.bordeaux-undiscovered.co.uk, picked pretty much at random off their website which looks like it deserves closer inspection. The second two reds are part of Lidl's new upmarket "wine cellar" range (more of those to follow in a separate piece).

Château Ballan-Larquette 2011 Bordeaux blanc (50-50 Sauvignon blanc - Sémillon, 12.5% abv) - intense zesty green fruit, citrus and gooseberry vs oily honeyed rounded texture, quite concentrated with crisp and tasty fruity finish. Lovely dry white. £8.65 Bordeaux Undiscovered.
Château Ballan-Larquette 2011 Bordeaux Clairet (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot; 13% abv) - rich vibrant colour and red fruit cocktail on the nose / palate vs oily creamy flavours and texture, fairly full-bodied with 'sweet' cherry / berry fruit vs crisp fresh bite on the finish. Serious foodie rosé. £8.45 Bordeaux Undiscovered.
Château Puyanché 2005 Cotes de Castillon (80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc; 13.5% abv) - deep colour still for its age, fairly complex nose with developing savoury notes vs 'earthy' cassis and smoky peppery edges even; quite concentrated and lush vs herbal cedary undertones vs fairly meaty and dark, nice firm dry vs ripe tannin combo, thick textured with a bitter twist yet well-balanced. Tasty red with dried cassis fruit and maturing savoury flavours vs funkier 'inky' side; started to oxidize quite quickly a day after opening, so drink now I'd say. Good value at £9.40.
Puisseguin - Saint Emilion 2011, Leroy Chevalier (Merlot, Cabernet SauvignonCabernet Franc; 13% abv) - a tad mean and firm perhaps (probably a symptom of this not spectacular vintage in the region), but otherwise not a bad example of a Merlot based 'Bordeaux right bank' red at a reasonable price, I suppose. £6.99 Lidl ("Wine Cellar" range so not all stores).
Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2010, Union de Producteurs de Saint Emilion (mostly Merlot, 14% abv) - quite big and blowsy actually showing ripe damson and black cherry/currant fruit layered with toasted coconut and vanilla oak, wilder smoky rustic notes too; chunky tannins and palate weight, quite extracted and dry yet has good depth of fruit vs lightly charred and 'rubbery' oak. The tannins and oak are a little clunky right now, but underneath it's surprisingly lush (2010 was a warm ripe vintage) with dark fruit and that wilder smoky side too. It did actually soften up a little after being open for two days, so 6-12 months in bottle certainly wouldn't do it any harm (if you can keep it that long). £9.99 Lidl ("Wine Cellar" range so not all stores).
Château Saint Paul 2010 Haut-Médoc (50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 48% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot; 14% abv) - rich dark colour and full-on nose of cedary coconut oak vs ripe cassis and plum fruit, pretty serious structured wine with a subtle oak coating adding nice texture to its quite firm dry yet rounded tannins; concentrated and dense with lovely fruit actually, closes up on the finish. Sumptuous wine, drinking ok now (with steak or duck at least) but should keep and improve over a few years. The label's reminiscent of a top estate but I can't remember which one... Marks & Spencer £14.99.

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