Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bordeaux-where to start?

Someone recently asked the question as to where to start their journey with older Bordeaux. For me, I bought part of a cellar of perfectly stored, mostly 1990 Bordeaux with a few other vintages thrown in for good measure. I must say that I didn't fully appreciate my good luck at the time and wasted quite a few bottles that I'd now treat with care. I was lucky and, absent good fortune, one has to pick a place to start. The best scenario would be to be introduced to it by others with more experience. Mature Bordeaux is, after all, an acquired taste. One has to kiss quite a few frogs due to storage issues and bottle variation, so it takes some doing to learn what is a bad bottle as opposed to what is shut down as opposed to what is just plain austere and lacking charm.  Of course, one should drink as much as one can to learn about a region and Bordeaux is wonderfully diverse, which makes it both easy to find and hard to choose.  Plus, the excursion requires quite a capital commitment.

So, where would be a good place to start?  My first reaction was Pauillac because that is my favorite region and the wines are so classically Claret.  However, these wines aren't with obvious charm for someone used to drinking California Cabernet or Australian Shiraz.  They have a power driven not by fruit, but by a structure that provides an elegant frame for exquisitely pure fruit (in the best of times).  Instead, I thought of Graves.  Other than Domaine de Chevalier, the wines often display great sweetness that would attract a California wine lover, while not (necessarily) bending to a more modern style.  Many can be found in the $100 range at retail.  Even older vintages of the great La Mission Haut-Brion can be had for a reasonable price in "off" vintage.

Where would you start?


Mike P said...

In Napa :)

Ben said...

Nice, Mike. I think that is the place that many American BDX drinkers start. It certainly was for me.