Basic bordeaux 1998

The official body that runs Bordeaux wine is at pains to point out that the price of the 95 per cent of production that is not sold en primeur is quite unrelated the volatile futures market as shown in this graph (which is much more revealing about smart bordeaux than the basic stuff).

What is not underlined of course is that such an overwhelming proportion of basic bordeaux tastes not a jot like the sort of wine tasted so frenetically last week (see Report from the Bordeaux en primeur circus). Nevertheless, there are many good red bordeaux selling for a song; the only problem is identifying them (as I have pointed out in purple pages).

Those who are seriously interested in bargain red bordeaux would find the current, April, issue of La Revue du Vin de France particularly useful. It's for wines such as this that France's only serious wine magazine comes into its own (and they've even started to write about non-French wines!). They are recommending 175 bordeaux at less than 10 euros (£6 or about $9) a bottle, virtually all from the 1999 vintage which is currently on sale in France. The subscriptions department is at B 450, 60732 Ste-Geneviève Cedex, France (tel +33 03 44 03 26 17, fax +33 03 44 03 37 02). No email address is given, and the magazine is yet to embrace electronic pubishing.

Meanwhile, here are some more modest red bordeaux that have impressed me recently, with British retail prices and stockists where known, but look at WineSearcher and for a price and stockist near you.

Ch Mont-Pérat 1998 Premières Côtes de Bordeaux (more information from

Very thick and lively. A bit modern thanks to Rolland's hand but not excessively so. A real mouthful. Should appeal to palates brought up on New World wine as well as Old.

Ch des Ricards 1997, Premières Côtes de Blaye £9.46 Corney & Barrow of London, EC1 (tel 020 7539 3200, web

Honest and sophisticated wine made mainly from Merlot, drinking well now from a recently renovated property.

Ch de Castres 98 Graves £9.95 Waitrose

Neat and appetising; well mannered.

Ch Paloumey 1998 Haut Médoc about £11 Morris & Verdin of London, SE1 (tel 020 7921 5300)

Dusty, velvety, easy, ready.

Ch Cambon La Pelouse 1999 Haut Médoc £11.75 Lea & Sandeman of London SW10, W8, NW3 and SW13 (tel 020 7244 0522)

Savoury, meaty fresh invigorating, lots of both fruit and structure. Drink now or over the next five years.

Ch La Vieille Croix 1998 Fronsac £11.99 Majestic

Good lift, sappy arresting wine with very good balanced and classic beginning, middle and end palate structure.

Vieux Ch Gaubert 1998 Graves £12.95 La Réserve of London SW3, SW6, NW3, W2 and SW11 (tel 020 7589 2020)

Excellent colour, full, frank, lovely now and supple without betraying its origins.

Ch Fleur Cardinale 1998 St Emilion £15.50 Berry Bros & Rudd of London SW1 and Basingstoke (tel 0870 900 4300, web

Good soft, round, forward classic claret, currently tasting more Cabernet than Merlot. Rolland was here.

Reserve de la Comtesse 1998 Pauillac £17.95 Waitrose

Class in a bottle. Polish, subtlety, digestive biscuits and tannins in Pichon Lalande's second wine.

And at this price level start looking at crus bourgeois from the lovely 2000 vintage.