From €10.20, 14.50 Swiss francs, £11, $19.99
My hopes were not high when I sat down recently to taste the 2011 Crus Bourgeois, the Médoc petits châteaux whose 2011s were specially selected as being superior, but overall Richard and I were pleasantly surprised. No wine was so stunningly good that we gave it a score of 17 but there was no shortage of 16.5s among our scores. And one stable that did particularly well was that of the late Vincent Mulliez, the Médoc vigneron and ex-director of J P Morgan in London who died three years ago at the age of 44. His three properties, Chx Belle-Vue and de Gironville in Haut-Médoc and the AOC Bordeaux Ch Bolaire, now belong to his widow Isabelle who has decided to keep them in the family at least until the youngest of her five sons is 18. Last year Jean-Michel Marle was taken on as director of the three estates while Vincent Bache-Gabrielsen has been looking after winemaking since 2003 with Christophe Coupez as consultant.
Although their Ch de Gironville 2011 Haut-Médoc was also well made, I was particularly impressed by Ch Belle-Vue 2011 Haut-Médoc, the Macau property near Ch Giscours on which Mullieux spent so much. It has one of the Médoc's highest proportions of Petit Verdot planted - 20% - and the assemblage of the 2011 was apparently 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 23% Petit Verdot.
Opulence was not rife in this collection of correct but by no means overripe 2011s yet both nose and palate of this wine manages to be opulent yet not ridiculously and offputtingly sweet. (No over-charred oak here.) There is no mistaking this bone-dry wine with well-managed tannins for a wine from anywhere other than the straight-backed Médoc, and better drained land of the Haut-Médoc at that.
There are classed growths that taste no more distinguished than this yet look at the prices! Admittedly these are mostly prices for futures so in some countries there will be taxes and delivery costs to add before you can get your hands on this wine, which I reckon is suitable for drinking between 2016 and 2026. This is classy, underpriced stuff - if strictly for those who admire the style and longevity of classic red bordeaux. Those who have definitively fallen out of love with it because of the absurd prices of the investment quality wines, or who never liked Bordeaux blends in the first place, look away now!
For bordeaux lovers in search of a bargain, take note that this wine is being offered widely in the US, Hong Kong and all over Europe by the tentacular Millésima operation, as well as by a number of other independent merchants. Please note, especially when using search engines such as winesearcher.com, the distinction between this property, called Château Belle-Vue with a hyphen and capital V, and the many Bordeaux Châteaux with 'Bellevue' in their name.
See our tasting notes on more than 60 2011 Crus Bourgeois.