Andrew Jefford goes out on a limb (and might even lose one) in defence of Bordeaux
I hesitate to jot these words on Wandering Palate notepaper, since the Big Man, old ‘Swampy’ Marsh himself, is a noted Burgundophile and Pinottiste, and I don’t want to get kneecapped on a dark night along Adam Road.
I hesitate to speak them, too. I was with Alex Hunt MW a while back, who may be Britain’s brightest wine merchant. We mentioned Bordeaux, in passing. I called them, casually enough, ‘the world’s greatest wines’.
The orange-haired young luminary choked, and nearly sprayed me with whatever he had in his mouth at the time.
Every time I write this, readers assail me. Dismissing Bordeaux is de rigueur in right-thinking wine circles, for all the wrong reasons: price, money, cost, wealth, lucre. Yet drinkers keep going back to them, as I do, and marvelling at their subtlety, balance and poise; at their combination of generosity and reserve, of sensual charm and austerity; at their ability to age like clockwork (if stored correctly), and grow more appealing still as they do so; at the digestibility of their tannins; at the subtlety of their allusions; and at their consistency.
The Chinese market, it is said, is abandoning Bordeaux for Burgundy. It may be so. But mark my words: they’ll be back, just as soon as they’ve tasted a few 2004s and 2007s, as soon as they’ve discovered the halting inconsistency of Burgundy, as soon as they’ve noted the vast chasm which exists between Burgundian dream and Burgundian reality.
The Rhône’s characterfulness isn’t for all. You need to be eating an Italian meal in Italy to appreciate much Italian red wine, while many of Spain’s reds are made for oak-lovers. The icons of the New World prove that concentration and intensity aren’t everything. Bordeaux will have the last laugh. It always does. [Exit, pursued by a bear.]