I taste a whole lot of Bordeaux every month. Yesterday we tasted through a line-up of mainly Haut Medoc, with some St Emilion/Pomerol satellites and a few commune wines thrown in. The results were, umm...predictable. Some perfectly sound, technically well made wines, many boring wines, a few plain bad wines. There were some fruit forward $20 Bdx values, if that's your thing, an '05 Reserve de la Comtesse, which was textbook Pauillac with the black currant, lead pencil and in full effect (though is $50ish dollars for a well-made but otherwise fairly ho-hum 2nd label worth it?). Then there were the three wines from the Barton family: 2000 Langoa Barton, 1997 Langoa Barton, and 1994 Leoville Barton. As I anticipated, the Langoa Bartons showed much more nuanced, more interesting flavors, for a whole lot less money. The '97 in particular was great - all of that famed Bordeaux elegance which you read about in wine textbooks was on full display: cherries, roasted meaty savor, terrific velvety texture. While the '00 was good, it come with a 2000 bdx price tag, and is still showing a good bit more primary. The '97 is definitely the way to go for drinking now. And the '94 Leoville Barton? At first sniff, it was the most ripe, manipulated, simple, new worldy classified growth I have ever had the displeasure of tasting. As it opened up things got slightly more interesting, but there was still something really unagreeable and metallic on the finish. Just weird, heavily manipulated wine.
Further proof that the more ambitious the wine in Bordeaux (1st growths excepted?), the higher the pricing, the more often a chateaux increases its pricing, the worse wine you'll get. Hmmm, sound familiar? Do you see any correlation to other cab growing areas in the world?
Is it just me, or does it seem like Napa initially took the best of Bordeaux to inspire their winemaking, and Bordeaux has since taken the worst of Napa to inspire theirs?
Sort of reminds me of the relationship between hip-hop and reggae. I mean, would you rather listen to the Treacherous Three, or to Sean Paul?
Here's my vote.
UPDATE 11/23 - Speaking of poor quality, overrated red bordeaux wine, a bottle of 1990 Cos d'Estournel was opened in the store yesterday. Decanted for what I believe was an hour. Verdict? The wine was dead. Lifeless. Not closed, nor dumb, just not good. I'm not just being hard on Cos because I have disliked anything I've tried from them in the past. In fact, I really wanted to like this bottle, but did not enjoy it one bit. 1990 was a terrific year in Bordeaux, and at this point many of these wines should be showing pretty well. What's the problem here?