Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

2001 Chateau Bernadotte

American wine collectors and investors tend to only buy Bordeaux from the greatest vintages and greatest chateaux. This makes good investment sense since these wines appreciate the most and most of us don't get to taste them before they arrive. Thus collectors and investors try to maximize the quality of their purchases by reading advanced tasting notes from wine gurus such as Robert Parker and betting on the most reputable vintages and chateaux.

But what if you just want to drink Bordeaux and not pay an arm and a leg for it. Wine shops and supermarket shelves in France are alway stocked with wines from "lesser" chateaux, vintages, and regions. Yes, there is some awful stuff on the shelf, but also some great bargains. These wines rarely show up in the U.S. They are part of the "lake" of Bordeaux wines you keep reading about, but never see. Bordeaux is now almost completely split into two groups. Famous chateaux at phenomenal prices and almost unsaleable wine from unknown properties.

Recently I've been seeing some Bordeaux on the shelves at reasonable prices. Some of these wines have been brought in by good importers such as Kermit Lynch or Robert Kacher. Robert Parker also keeps his eyes open and his ear to the ground looking for good values in Bordeaux. Unfortunately, once he writes about them the price usually skyrockets.

The 2001 vintage produced many wonderful wines that are very drinkable. Chateau Bernadotte was a Robert Parker find and seems to fall in the low end of phenomenal price range (about $20). Just as Quilceda Creek seemed like an American version of Bordeaux, Chateau Bernadotte seems a little like a French version of a California "Meritage" blend. The endearing quality of 2001 Chateau Bernadotte is its berry fruit flavors. In the background there is acid and tannin, but the fruit dominates, at least at this stage. This wine is so fruit forward for a Bordeaux that you could probably drink it on it's own without food, but I would have it at least with some cheese.

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