A great-value red bordeaux for current drinking.
From €6.95, $13.29, £11.50, CA$20.75, 144 Swedish krone
I tasted this wine as part of a small collection of affordable red bordeaux recently selected by family-owned UK wine merchants Tanners of Shrewsbury. But I see that, thanks to the Sichel selling machine behind it, the wine is delightfully widely available – in the UK, US, Canada, Sweden, France and the Netherlands.
The Sichel family, all seven of them, are important Bordeaux négociants and own, inter alia, Ch d'Angludet south of Cantenac and a share of grand Ch Palmer in the nearby village of Margaux. In 2002 they bought an estate in the southern Entre-Deux-Mers which they renamed Ch Argadens, and have therefore had quite a time to get this more modest property into shape. The vineyard was restructured to, as is common among ambitious producers in the Entre-Deux-Mers, increase plantation density. The winery was modernised and a proper ageing cellar was installed. Alexander Sichel is proud of the estate's sustainability credentials. Apparently this was one of the very first Bordeaux vineyards to be certified ISO 14001, in 2011, and in 2014 the estate was accorded HVE 3 certification (Haute Valeur Environnementale).
Ch Argadens is in St-André du Bois south east of Bordeaux, just across the Garonne from Langon (see this map). Ripe vintages such as 2015 (see this guide to our extensive coverage of this vintage) deliver real quality in less-favoured Bordeaux regions such as this, because the grapes have no trouble ripening – the usual problem in cooler or wetter vintages.
This wine, as usual in the Entre-Deux-Mers, is made up mainly of early-ripening Merlot but with a good chunk of character-forming Cabernet too – 63% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc. It's given a full year's ageing in small oak barrels, presumably those that have been used previously by smarter properties. The wine tastes as though there has been some pretty superior oak ageing.
It's already hugely enjoyable with quite an intense nose and impressive ripeness but it finishes with the dry, savoury (not drying), lightly tannic, appetising finish that is typical of Bordeaux. This is a wine with a future – though obviously at this price not a long-term future. My suggested drinking window is 2018 to 2022. I gave this 13.5% wine a score of 16 out of 20 for what it's worth.
Tanners, who are by no means the only UK retailer of Argadens, are also offering the 2012 and magnums of 2014, as well as the white Agardens 2017.