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05.18.2010

Bordeaux. The Anti-Millenial Wine?

Early in my stages of self-education on wine, I often said to myself, "I really don't see what all the fuss is about with Bordeaux." I had tasted quite a few lesser growths, and found them mostly unapproachable: tannic, tight, too mineral, or simply bad. Over the years, I gradually had a chance to taste both aged Bordeaux as well as some of the First Growths, and I began to understand the mystique. But to be perfectly honest, I've never had a Bordeaux that blew my socks off the way that some Burgundies have. I've yet to drink Petrus, however, but I don't think it's likely in my future. I don't know anyone rich enough to give me a sip.

Which is why I found myself nodding vigorously as I read Eric Asimov's latest piece in the New York Times, entitled "Bordeaux Loses Prestige Among Younger Wine Lovers."

Frankly, Bordeaux has a problem, which I can sum up as follows: there's not enough really good wine being made there, the really good stuff is so unbelievably expensive that it's out of reach for most people, and the affordable stuff that is good really isn't great without a number of years on it.

All of which is a bit of a non-starter for entry level, attention-deficit wine lovers just getting into things, and continues to be a barrier for people like me even if we do have the patience to cellar things.

You simply get more for your money a lot of other places, including Burgundy, the land of astronomical prices, where lesser wines please far more than their Bordeaux equivalents in my opinion. My main benchmark for this assessment is the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting that I attend once every year or so. The First Growths don't show up, and only a couple of the Second Growths do, and the wines there on the whole aren't that great.

Now I do have some favorite Bordeaux wines, such as second growth Cos d'Estournel, but I'll tell you a dirty little secret: I've never owned a single bottle of the stuff, even though I could afford to. Whereas most of my favorite producers that I can afford from most every other region have been in my shopping cart at one time or another.

This is the crux of the matter: I can't really be bothered. And according to wine bar owner Paul Grieco, who is quoted on the matter in Asimov's piece: "If even one person came in and said, 'I want a glass of Bordeaux,' I might think I really have to serve a Bordeaux. But not one person has said that. Not one! That's pretty sad."

Indeed.

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