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Soft & Seductive ‘Old School’ Claret Under £9? Yes It’s True!

2014 Château Baron de Bellevue, Côtes de Bourg, Bordeaux

“A soft and seductive proper Claret that’s as reassuring as a pair of comfy old slippers.” Songbird Wines

Bordeaux has gone through a few changes over the past 25 years or so. Some have been undoubtedly beneficial, like the advancement in winemaking that saves poorer vintages which has resulted in there not being a really duff one since 1992. Global warming has also given the fruit a ripeness rarely seen in the last century and although this has pleased some international (and influential) wine critics, this style has divided traditional fans of the region.

Now I enjoy a glass of Bordeaux as much as the next wine lover and have been truly impressed with wines I have tasted from blockbuster vintages like 2005, 2009 and 2010. I do however miss the understated elegance and sophistication of the claret of old, much evident in the classic vintages of the 1980s and 1990s – a number of which I was lucky to taste whilst managing a fine wine shop in the early 2000s. This preference is why I am always interested in the less fashionable vintages in Bordeaux – particularly 2014 and 2017 in recent years – as you can find some delicious old school gems, like this beauty from the ‘Right Bank’.

The wine producing appellations of Bordeaux are split by the Gironde estuary and are collectively referred to as Left Bank or Right Bank. To generalise, the predominate grape variety on the ‘Left’ is Cabernet Sauvignon (think Margaux, Medoc & Pauillac) and the ‘Right’ is Merlot (known for St. Emilion and Pomerol). The Côtes de Bourg sits on the north of the Right Bank at the point the Gironde splits into the Garonne and Dordogne rivers.

That’s the end of the geography lesson, back to the wine. Tasting this was a delight. There are so many mediocre clarets at this price point there’s almost an expectation to be underwhelmed, but this was the total opposite. Its usual RRP would be £10.25 and I would say that was a fair price for it, but I’ve managed to squeeze it under £9 a bottle and that makes it a total Bordeaux Bargain.

2014 Château Baron de Bellevue, Côtes de Bourg, Bordeaux @ £53.70 per case (6)

“ A blend of 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon & 5% Cabernet Franc. From the first sniff I knew this would be good with its subtle ripeness of jammy, brambly fruit, warm spice and a hint of tobacco. Sometimes the taste doesn’t live up to the aroma but not here as the soft ripe fruit, light tannins and smooth structure harmonised perfectly. It’s such a delight to taste Bordeaux that drinks like proper Bordeaux without over-ripeness and extraction. This is all about subtle balance and has a taste that conjures up visions of cut glass decanters, big open fires and vintage leather chairs. It’s bang on for drinking now. A soft and seductive proper claret that’s as reassuring as a pair of comfy old slippers.” Jonny Wren, Songbird-in-chief

I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a better red Bordeaux under £10 a bottle. Wine is available for immediate delivery. You can order on-line here or email orders@songbirdwine.co.uk

 

 

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