Old Man Claret: Bordeaux at £10 – £15 per bottle

“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” – Henry Miller

Why drink Bordeaux at £10-15? Many other wines stride in with hi-how-are-you blasts. At this price, there are many choices for a medium-bodied red wine from nearly every corner of the globe. That’s why some are asking, is Bordeaux even relevant anymore? Especially those looking for quick teenage kicks.

Many times, I have called Bordeaux in this price range Old Man Claret. Sometimes planky oak, sometimes contemptuous fruit. But a good bottle – and there are many good examples, especially from Listrac, Lussac St. Emilion, Graves and Cru Bourgeois, etc – are safe, reliable, well-made and good company. However, I will admit it often does not make me want to sing and dance on table tops.

What I like about it though, is it is more like going to dinner with a friend you’ve known for twenty years: there’s little need to always talk and constantly re-introduce yourself. If you are seriously interested in wine, a well-made claret at £10-15 is a good place to start a conversation in wine and all wine regions around the world. Partly because these are blends and styles that are often prototypes for winemakers everywhere.

Bordeaux is not sign-posted. But this also means it is a journey down a highway uncluttered by crap advertising (thankfully – you don’t want to go there when it has tried to market itself, cringe-inducing names such as Bad Boy Bordeaux is a case in point). Like most French wine, it expects you to make your own taste judgments and it won’t hold your hand. Sure, you’ll make mistakes. Especially at £10 per bottle. But even if sometimes the lows are low; what you learn make other wine-highs in the future, high. I’d almost go so far as to say, the only real way to understand Bordeaux is from life experience. It is certainly not a bad place to start a journey.

Image: Henry Miller

Link: More discussion on Bordeaux “Why is Bordeaux losing prestige among young consumers?”

1 Comment

  1. James Swann says

    Given the predominance of top chateau and the re-positioning of these in the market via a new and very high price ceiling, something after initially complaining about the ‘fine and rare wines’ trade seems to now be embracing, it is a comprehensible and useful thing to question the region in the broader scheme of things.

    I would say that certainly, Bordeaux is relevant, in fact it is cable of delivering on occasion at below £10.

    Moreover, the patrimony that is Bordeaux is not in fact exclusive to the top chateaux or even the classed growths. As we know, there is a wide-offering of Cru Bourgeois and petit chateaux producing wines that have something to say about where they are from at affordable prices.

    Often this is very much out of vocation and family tradition. I recall speaking with one young family member of such a petit chateau, who was a little tired of chateau life at the time, and asked what their production was; she replied ‘150, 000 bottles..not quite big, but enough to make you work (expletive) hard’.

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