Only the foolish and very rich would buy the most glamorous 2000 clarets at this stage. Their prices have long since rocketed into the stratosphere of folly. The first growths have been offered in minutetranches, the fourth offered last week at the equivalent of £2200 a case, about as much as a case of delicious first growth 1985 costs today. Eeez crazeee!
It may be impossible to see how investors can make serious money on this vintage but the château owners certainly have done - with the sole and noble exception of Anthony Barton who offered his sensational Ch Léoville Barton at the equivalent of under £20 a bottle, only to see it already being traded at about £800 a dozen.
But there are still goodies to be bought lower down the ranks, at fair if not reasonable prices considering the exceptional quality of this vintage - especially though not exclusively in the Médoc. These wines have convincingly deep, lively colours and are ripe without being overdone. They have sappy fruit, appetising acidity and (the key to longevity without pain) a good charge of thoroughly ripe tannins. It is impossible to think of any vintage since 1990 that has produced so many delicious wines - and there are those three cute noughts on the label too! The Médoc is best represented below, partly because the vintage was so successful there and partly because the quantities available are higher, and therefore value is better, than in St Emilion and, especially, Pomerol.
Buy these wines sooner rather than later for the Bordeaux negociants have already run out of stock of most of the better wines, so great has been demand, particularly from those paying in lovely strong US dollars. I have given an estimate of when to start drinking each wine, plus the best ex-cellars price per dozen bottles I could find last week from a UK stockist. Individual allocations are constantly being exhausted but these wines should still be available from a wide range of the world's merchants, retailers and fine wine traders who specialise in making en primeur offers.
Compared to serious Cabernets from California, the wines below are a steal - and compared to most Cabernets made elsewhere, they represent pinnacles of subtlety and finesse.
Two dozen châteaux to seek out in 2000:
Villa Bel Air Far from the sexiest claret around, but wonderfully refreshing, supple Graves from the Lynch Bages stable.
2005 £55 HHC
Fourcas Dupré Ambitious Listrac cru bourgeois delivers in 2000 with mulberries, flattering toastiness and no pain.
2006 £65 TWS
La Chénade Denis Durantou of Eglise Clinet's property in Lalande de Pomerol offers serious value.
2006 £68 FV
Mont Pérat Racy wine from the Premières Côtes de Bordeaux.
2005 £70 TWS
La Tour de By Rich, glossy and, as so often, one of the best buys of the vintage, from the northern Médoc.
2005 £87 L&W
Marsau All-Merlot wonder from the Côtes de Francs. Remarkable value.
2002 £88 FRW
Belgrave Surely the best value classed growth. Both charming and interesting.
2008 £105 TWS, MS
Potensac Neat, stylish, slightly reined-in cru bourgeois from the owners of Léoville Las Cases.
2008 £105 FV, FRW
Haut Bages Averous As spicily attractive as its Pauillac sibling Lynch Bages.
2007 £130 BI
Poujeaux Spicy, confident, easy to love and possible to drink quite soon.
2005 £130 JA
Ormes de Pez Another fine wine from Daniel Lhose of Lynch Bages though with St Estèphe rigour.
2009 £130 BI
Aiguilhe Creamy, pruny and strictly for lovers of the new super-flash St Emilion style, a Côtes de Francs from the owner of La Mondotte, etc.
2008 £135 FV
Grand Puy Ducasse Gentle, attractively old fashioned claret.
2009 £137 FRW
Chasse Spleen Lovely structure, satiny texture, a thoroughly good, sturdy effort from Moulis en Médoc.
2007 £140 TWS, FRW
Duhart Milon The bargain way to experience Lafite's current magic. Sumptuous nose.
2006 £140 BI
Fombrauge One of St Emilion's less glam properties is being revitalised by Bernard Magrez of Pape Clément. Lots of new oak.
2006 £125 J&B
La Petite Eglise The second wine of Pomerol superstar Eglise Clinet is so sweet it's almost treacly.
2007 £144 L&W
Fonplégade Another winning St Emilion overperformer.
2008 £147 L&W
Haut Batailley Dramatically deep colour with everything a Pauillac needs for a fine future.
2007 £150 FV, FRW
Monbrison Silky, elegant Margaux cru bourgeois whose tannins are certainly there in force.
2006 £135 J&B
Clos du Marquis Léoville Las Cases' much more flattering second wine will be ready a decade before its (very) big brother.
2007 £160 JA
Cantenac Brown Opulent, some Margaux fragrance, sleek, livelier than many previous vintages.
2007 £170 FRW
Larrivet Haut Brion A refreshing Pessac Léognan given extra opulence by Michel Rolland.
2005 £180 J&B
Issan Easy mouthful of ripe fruit. Another improving Margaux property.
2007 £200 FV
||Bordeaux Index, London EC1 020 7278 9495
||Farr Vintners, London SW1 (minimum total order £500) 020 7821 2000
||Fine & Rare Wines, London W10 020 8960 1995
||Haynes Hanson & Clark, London SW1 020 7259 0102
||John Armit, London W11 020 7908 0660
||Justerini & Brooks of Edinburgh and London SW1 020 7493 8721
||Lay & Wheeler, Colchester 01206 764446
||Mayor Sworder, Croydon 020 8686 1155
||The Wine Society, Stevenage (membership needed) 01438 740222