March 2013
ooking at the current state of Bordeaux is like watching an under-
cultivated garden flourish with a little TLC. According to the
Bordeaux Wine Bureau, U.S. imports of Bordeaux increased 11%
over the 12 months ending in July 2012. Even more important:
While the high-end sector has yet to reach its pre-recession volume, the
mid-range wines—priced between $12 and $60 per bottle at retail—
are on track for record sales this year.
Given the strong con-
sumer demand, why is it
that sommeliers can be
heard pooh-poohing the
category? Mark Lartigau,
managing partner of BNP
Distributing Company, be-
lieves that younger sommeliers often
overlook the category of mid-priced
Bordeaux in favor of wines from more
trendy appellations. “They see it as
their grandfather’s wine; It has been
swept under the carpet to move on
to the next chic appellation.”
James Tidwell MS, beverage
manager of the Four Seasons in Las
Colinas, TX, states, “Exciting things
are happening in this category;
there are some great price/quality
finds.” Tidwell has found that the
name recognition of Pomerol and
St. Emilion help to sell the better-
value wines from adjacent satellite
appellations. “We did so well with a
Puisseguin St. Emilion by the glass
[Ch. Saint-Dominique] that we could
no longer get it for several months,”
says Tidwell.
Wines with some bottle
age are what Kasi Shelton,
sommelier at Michael’s in
New York City, looks for in
order to offer more food-
friendly options. She found
a good reception for Château
Simard Emilion 2001 and
the Clarendelle 2005 from Haut-
Médoc. She also notes that the
value-wine consumer tends to
be less vintage-focused, allowing
her to showcase wines from older,
less renowned vintages that are
approachable now.
Lartigau, a 37-year veteran of the
Bordeaux business, believes that the
track record of Bordeaux’s lesser-known
areas may be responsible for some of the
hesitation among some buyers: “Only in
last two decades has there been
the capital investment in the
vineyards and the cellars to
turn things around.”
He believes the category
now offers some impressive
value. “They are giving the
consumer the best bang for
the buck. You can go down to
$10 today and get a really good
wine if you do your homework,” says
Lartigau. “If a consumer has $10 to $20
to spend as a gift, he’s not going to give
a big domestic brand that will reveal his
budget; he gives a Bordeaux and it gives
the impression that it’s worth a lot more
than he spent.”
Similarly, many retailers and
sommeliers report being able to take
a larger than average margin on
some lesser-known Bordeaux, pricing
them at what they think the wine
is worth, rather than applying their
standard markup.
Bordeaux: Back with a Twist
Value is Hot...Trophy Wines Not
Jacques Boyd | Margaux | 2009
A great example of the superlative
conditions in the Margaux appellation
in 2009. Silky, refined and intensely
Wines & Beyond; $50
Ch. Preuillac | Médoc | 2009
Really beautiful wine; very complete.
Round in the mouth with intense flavor
and the immediate appeal of ripe fruit.
Long finish.
Wines & Beyond; $40
Ch. de Sales | Pomerol | 2009
Firm but polished tannins. Approachable
now but will reward 5+ years cellaring.
Maisons Marques & Domaines; $37
Ch. de la Coste | Margaux | 2010
Shows the lovely elegance that Margaux
is known for at an approachable price.
Very soft tannins and lovely raspberry fruit
make this an attractive BTG option.
Esprit du Vin; $29
Ch. Cordeillan-Bages | Pauillac | 2007
Enchanting, seductive nose of black
cherries, café au lait and earth. The softer
tannins of the 2007 vintage make this
appealing to drink now.
Esprit du Vin; $49
Ch. Puy-Blanquet | St. Emilion | 2009
This wine, a Grand Cru, shows
aristocratic nose of graphite and cigar.
Slightly softer in acidity, reflecting
the ripeness of the vintage.
Marques & Domaines; $29
Ch. Haut Simard | St. Emilion | 2004
Second wine from Château Simard, a
property beloved by fans of older wines
for aging the wine at the chateau prior
to release. This is a really stunning
value and drinking at its peak.
Distributing; $20
Ch. Margerots | Bordeaux Supérieur | 2009
A great entry-level Bordeaux, soft and
approachable with nice notes of red fruits
and forest floor.
Wines & Beyond; $12
Prices are SRP and may vary by market.
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