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25th July 2014

A Bordeaux Revenge – Lovely Supermarket wine bargain

After my disappointing experience with a White Bordeaux tasting pack I thought I’d give the region a chance to retort (how is that for an excuse to drink?!) by buying a bottle of red Bordeaux from the supermarket, and reporting on it if it was good. This was further prompted by a combination of price €6.49 and vintage 2009.

Bordeaux is not, generally speaking, a region to look to for value. At the top end – the truly fine wines from the famous properties – are ludicrously overpriced. In fairness this is simply a result of market forces, demand exceeding supply, and their investment potential. At the lower end, there are – in essence – easier and less expensive places to grow grapes just as, or more, successfully. Bordeaux is by the Atlantic coast and at the mercy of extremes of weather and climate that make viticulture testing to say the least. Humidity and thus mildew limit the chances for organic viticulture (in fact all but prevent it for everyone apart from a select few). Land is expensive, expectations are high and rules are strict. But there is a lot of wine made here. And there are bargains to be found.

One such is this : Château la Tonnelle Bordeaux Superieur 2009



At just €6.49 from the Leclerc supermarket chain, sporting a well-deserved Medaille d’Or from the Paris Concours 2011 (France’s equivalent to the International Wine Challenge), and from the truly excellent 2009 vintage, there was something about this offering that seems somehow too good to be true (which is probably that it has all gone by now).

It’s delicious. Not great, but exactly what a bottle of red Bordeaux should be. Dry, tannic but in a good and balanced way, with grainy texture, spices and restrained, almost austere fruit. At 5 years old, it’s at optimum drinking, although I see no reason why it would not age further beneficially, for me such wines are best when there remains some freshness to the fruit. It wears its 14% alcohol (a bit much for Bordeaux for me, but it is from a sunny vintage) well. The 2010 will be very good also, and then comes the trio of uninspiring vintages 2011-2-3, so probably worth stockpiling wines like these when they appear.



From the label and a quick Google search, I find that the wine is from Château Terrefort-Quancard (and sold directly from their website, if it’s the same wine with a different label, which seems likely), and 70% Merlot to 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. The latter goes some way towards explaining the wine’s fleshiness, richness, depth and alcohol level, without being overpowered by the undoubtedly dry tannins of the Cabernet component.



I shall definitely buy some more. Sometimes a good bottle of Bordeaux is exactly what is required. And they need not cost a fortune! Cheers!

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