Bordeaux: dad wine

Every new generation rebels by rubbishing its parents tastes. Apart from me, that is. My only rebellious act was to not play golf. My grandmother once said to me after my grandfather’s death ‘he (my grandfather) always worried about you not playing golf.’ It was as if ‘not playing golf’ was symptomatic of other great failings.

‘How’s your grandson Henry?’ one could imagine someone asking him at his golf club.

‘He doesn’t play golf, if you know what I mean.’

‘Oh dear, oh dear, a non-golfer in the family. Very rum.’

Anyway Bordeaux. This region is much disparaged by the Young Turks of the wine world. It’s seen as out-of-touch, expensive, elitist etc. Most wine writers define themselves against the great Robert Parker Jnr (not the composer of the Ghostbusters theme tune but the world’s most influential wine writer.) He made his reputation on Bordeaux and made a lot of Bordelais very rich. He’s the daddy of wine so it’s little wonder that people want to rebel by having nothing to do with his favourite region. There’s been some debate about this on the world wide wine web recently. I’m not going to paraphrase the arguments, you can read Jancis Robinson & Jamie Goode on the subject.

I don’t have much to add except to say that I really really like Bordeaux. It was the wine that I was brought up on and the first wine that I learnt to appreciate. The main criticism of this region is that it is now, thanks to Ray Parker Jnr, too expensive for ordinary drinkers. And indeed for the famous names this is true but every so often I come across a really delicious sub £10 claret.  Here’s one:

Chateau Puy Garance 09 – if you’re looking for good value Bordeaux, Cotes-de-Castillon is the place to go. This is amazing stuff with very ripe fruit but then lots of leather and pencil shavings. All this for £6.95 a bottle from the Wine Society. I really cannot think of a better wine for the money. Also pretty good is the Chateau Meaume. I had the 09 recently but I think Majestic are now onto the 10. 

We always drank the house claret when my grandfather took us  for Sunday lunch at the golf club (known as The Club.) It usually consisted of over-cooked roast beef with prawn cocktail to start. The wine wasn’t that good either being thin, underripe stuff of the sort that sent thousands of British drinkers into the arms of Australia and Chile. How much better it would have been if we’d had the Puy Garance. I might have even stayed for a round of golf.

About Henry

I’m a drinks writer. My day job is features editor at the Master of Malt blog. I also contribute to BBC Good Food, the Spectator and others. You can read some of my work here. I’ve done a bit of radio, given some talks and written a couple of books (Empire of Booze, The Home Bar and the forthcoming Cocktail Dictionary).
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6 Responses to Bordeaux: dad wine

  1. Hello Henry – nice article. Sorry do you mean Puy Garance? Agree its a good wine – we’ve also been buying Ch Meaume for years – good in Magnums too – can you send me your details and we may have some wines of interest to you?

  2. Tig Finch says:

    I love Bordeaux because, like you, it was the first decent wine I learned to drink. And I learned to drink it in Bordeaux, with Bordelais wine makers, working on the vendange, which I did with my lovely husband for two summers in our teens. It was definitely the best of times in every regard and everytime I open a bottle – ideally of Cote du Bourg – a golden haze – visible to the naked eye – descends around me and I am transported.

  3. Henry says:

    What a lovely image.

  4. Agree about Castillon, Henry. I’ve limited experience of Bordeaux (well, all wines actually) but so far, pound for pound, my favourite claret came from there.

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