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Intro: Bordeaux

Bordeaux suffers unduly from a stuffy, conservative image, where the owners are divorced from work in the vineyard and over-priced, technological wines at the top end are the norm. Thankfully there is another side to the region, where there is a hands on approach to organic viticulture from owner vignerons, and where they are happy to age the wines in their cellars for a few years, and then sell the wines at incredibly reasonable prices. A good number of hip restaurants in Paris don't list Bordeaux wines at all, and a few in London have caught the bug too, but to deny the quality of many of these exceptional wines reflects a fashionable blind-spot that is certain to change. 

Thankfully many of our customers have turned on to what can be achieved in the region, and there is very strong demand for wines like for example  the very special Château Moutte Blanc, who are the only renowned Petit Verdot specialists in Bordeaux (they supply cuttings to almost all the other châteaux for their plantings). They have 4.5 hectares of vines in Macau, a Margaux village, although Patrice de Bortoli's 70yo vines are closer to the estuary in deeper soils than gravel where the PV thrives. One of his wines carries the very humble Bordeaux Supérieur label, but anyone carafeing a bottle of the 2011 will find a wine of the highest quality with a suppleness and finesse that only the best wines can offer. We have also sourced a tiny allocation of his excellent Haut-Médoc, which as evidenced by the four Haut-Médoc that we now list, in our view provides the best quality/price rapport of all Bordeaux appellations.

One of our other very special Haut-Médoc comes from the tiny bio-dynamic domaine Closeries des Moussis, where the one hectare vineyard is planted in sandy gravels on the plateau of Senejac, and the women plough the soil with their own horse. Like the wonderful Clos du Jaugueyron, owners Laurence Alias and Pascale Choime intuitively understand that Bordeaux can produce wines with great finesse, freshness and purity of fruit, and that low sulphur levels of 30 mg/l or below are perfectly adequate (I was astonished to find sulphur levels throughout the region more typically around 90-100 mg/l for tannic red wines  - due to the pernicious influence of oenologists and their obsession with safety).

Another new wine of particular note this year is the Canon Fronsac of Ch Canon St Michel, where Jean-Yves Millaire has a four hectare vineyard of old vines tended bio-dynamically on the limestone hillsides of St Michel de Fronsac. His wine is aged in a mix of foudres and barrels for a year, followed by a second year in cement cuve, perfect for capturing the essence of the fruit, and retaining good freshness and energy.

Organic & Bio-dynamic

See our list of organic and bio-dynamic growers.