New Year Sale: focus on Bordeaux
Author: Charlie Geoghegan
Our New Year Sale brings you savings on a fantastic range of fine wines and spirits from leading producers until 31st January 2023. Here, we look at five of our favourite bottles from Bordeaux – from Classified Growth Claret to mouth-watering dry white and rosé
We sell Bordeaux all year round here at Berry Bros. & Rudd, from our Good Ordinary Claret to the finest First Growths. Our annual En Primeur offer is the busiest date in the calendar, of course, but we’ve always got a range of interesting bottles ready to go. Many of them are featured in our New Year Sale, which runs until 31st January. Here, we’ve picked out a range of red, white and pink Bordeaux bottles that are worth a closer look – and a few from further afield, just in case.
Left Bank Claret to drink now
Château Beychevelle derives both its name and its iconic dragon-boat label from a local legend. The property is located along the banks of the Gironde Estuary, historically the major trade route in and out of Bordeaux. Back in the 16th century, passing boats would lower their sails towards the estate in homage to its then-owner, the Duc d’Epernon. In the local Gascon dialect, this act was known as bêcha vela (or baisse voile in modern French). This in time became “Beychevelle”. Today, the château is one of Bordeaux’s best loved, classified as a Fourth Growth in the 1855 classification.
Amiral de Beychevelle is the estate’s second wine. It is a rather typical blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (68%) and Merlot (32%). Technical Director Romain Ducolomb and his team use young vines and de-selected fruit from the grand vin to craft an altogether more accessible expression of the estate. Neal Martin of Vinous notes its “medium-bodied, fresh and elegant” palate, calling it “a lovely Amiral”.
Right Bank Claret to drink now
Stéphane Derenoncourt dreamt of buying a St Emilion First Growth back in 1999, though he couldn’t do it on his shoestring budget. Instead, he widened his search over the border into Castillon. The gently rolling limestone hills here have an obvious appeal to Stéphane, a consultant to some of the Right Bank’s finest wine estates. Indeed, Domaine de l’A sits on a topographical continuation of St Emilion’s hills and valleys. “This is a very good place to make wine with a lot of identity,” Stéphane tells us.
The 2016 vintage here “captures the essence of Merlot and Cabernet Franc,” says Mark Pardoe MW, our Wine Director. “A scented nose of black rose petals greets you amidst aromas of hedgerow fruit and black cherries. The palate is seamlessly balanced with very fine ripe tannins and a glorious velvety structure.”
Left Bank Claret to lay down
Château Giscours is one of the best-known estates in Margaux. It’s also one of the biggest, with 95 hectares under vine in 2017. The estate was ranked a Third Growth in 1855. Its history has had some dramatic ups and downs since, but it has been on a hot-streak in recent decades. Owner Eric Albada Jelgersma and managing director Alexander Van Beek have ushered in a new era with an ever-greater focus on the vineyard. Their practice of co-planting means that there is a wide range of vine age within individual plots here, and there are some very old vines indeed – some dating back to 1926.
The blend for the 2017 grand vin is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon (71%) along with Merlot (24%) and Petit Verdot (5%). It was aged in 50% new oak for 12-15 months. Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW calls it “medium-bodied with wonderful freshness defining the palate and elevating the red and black fruits.”
Dry white Bordeaux
Sauternes is best known for its luscious dessert wines, and with good reason. But it has also become a hotspot for crisp, dry white Bordeaux in recent years. And Asphodele from Château Climens is a great example of the style. The estate’s Bérénice Lurton introduced the wine with the 2018 vintage. “Knowing the qualities of Climens, I always wondered how we could express them with a dry white,” she tells us. After some experimentation, she found that the estate’s “older vines are better for sweet wine and the younger vines are better for dry”.
“Fresh green apple and peaches combine with a floral hint on the nose of this beguiling dry wine,” says our own Barbara Drew MW of the 2019 vintage. “Beautiful and delicate now, this dry Sémillon has layers of subtle flavour, and will evolve in bottle for another 5-6 years.”
Crisp Bordeaux rosé
Among those recent developments at Château Giscours is this new rosé, launched with the 2019 vintage. One dedicated parcel, planted exclusively to Cabernet Sauvignon, provides the fruit. In the cellar, the team use the direct pressing method of rosé production. This involves a very light touch and yields incredibly pale and delicate wines. James Suckling commends the 2021 vintage for its “delicious fruit and a slightly tangy finish”.
What else to look for
If Bordeaux just isn’t your thing, fear not. We’ve got a range of wines, spirits and mixed cases available. Among many highlights, you’ll find 2021 Domaine de Triennes, a Southern French rosé from the Seysses family of Domaine Dujac and Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. There’s also a 2020 Beaujolais-Villages Aux Chânes from Domaine des Jeunes Pousses, Thibault Liger-Belair’s incubator for aspiring vignerons. From Rioja, you could try a Reserva or Gran Reserva from Bodegas Amézola de la Mora. Or for something a little different, try this Central Otago Pinot Noir from Akitu.
Prices are valid while stocks last until January 31st 2023, when our New Year Sale will end.