Having developed my palate with California wines, the last five years I have been on a mission to find aged Classified Bordeaux I enjoy under $100 and trying to justify the value vs. old world style blends out of California. These selections are based on my personal palate and preferences and were purchased under $100/btl…
2006 Pontet Canet
The clear winner. Lighter more refined Old World character, but still fruit forward. Fantastic balance with great structure.
Leoville Barton, Rauzan Segla
Napa Equivalents to Classic Bordeaux
Here is the problem – for every enjoyable aged Classified Bordeaux under $100, there is a California equivalent for at least 25% less. In my opinion, the closest Napa producers to Old World European styles are in the Howell Mountain area.
The clear New World winner. Similar to Pontet Canet, a lighter more refined style, but still fruit forward. Good balance with great structure.
Anderson’s Conn Valley and Seavey
Very old world, very good AND 25% less.
Justify Paying $100+/btl for Bordeaux?
Is there a justification for paying the premium? In my case, I buy a small selection of Bordeaux… just to be able to compare and add diversity to my cellar.
Everything in the wine world seems better evaluated in the context of its impact on taste: terroir, winemaking technique, storage, etc. Ultimately, all processes have the potential to impact taste and should be considered in both qualitative and quantitative terms regarding their impact on flavors and aromas in the final product.
So what is “cool climate” and why is it important to wine? “Cool Climate” wine can be defined as any wine made from a warm climate wine grape varietal grown in a region where the temps are in the lower range of the vines’ tolerance. The challenge for growers is there must also be sufficient sunlight to ripen the grapes. So, the quality of the fruit tends to be higher in areas where the growing season has enough sunlight to ripen the grapes and enhance the development of phenols, but cool to cold nights to raise the acidity. These wines tend to have structure, be more balanced, have less alcohol, include more complexity, have higher acidity and generally be more interesting. If big, fruity, alcoholic wines like many Napa Cabs are your faves, this category of wine may not be on top of your list…
I think most everyone would agree, white wines are just not interesting enough, unless grown in cool climate regions, but red wines are an entirely different matter. Many warm climate red regions produce excellent reds, i.e. Southern France, Spain and Italy. I have tasted cool climate produced syrahs, tempranillos, cabernet sauvs and cabernet francs. In my opinion, cabernet becomes too vegetal when grown in climates that push the cooler temp angle too much. Whereas syrah in particular, benefits greatly from this approach. My favorite red wine is syrah made from fruit grown in cool climate vineyards. Try searching them out and tasting them side-by-side with warm climate production… you will taste the difference. If you enjoy complex, structured wines, these wines will be for you!