It’s about time they did this.
Bordeaux is a huge, sprawling region composed of thousands of grower/producers making all sorts of wines from numerous appellations.
Yet Bordeaux has allowed itself to be defined largely by a mere handful of properties within a fairly small part of the region. Virtually all the attention, all the notoriety, all the press—and most of the money—have been flowing into the coffers of the grand estates, the Classified Growths, the wines of the Haut-Medoc, Graves/Sauternes, and Pomerol/St. Emilion on the other bank of the estuary.
It’s as if Consumer Reports wrote only about the range of cars from Ferrari to Audi, and forgot about everything else. But what about the Reasonably Priced Cars? You know: the ones most of us can actually afford to drive? The compacts, the sporty coupes, and *gulp* the affordable sedans with room for four (especially if it has that high-performance turbo so we can still dream)?
As the Classified Growths escalated in price so far beyond the average wine drinker as to be unattainable myths, or at best rarely afforded luxuries, other AOC areas tried to fill the void for affordable wine. The Fronsac, Blaye, the Côtes… but little attention was spared for the greatest part of Bordeaux’s massive capability for production, and the export market rarely heard about the wine the Bordelaise and most of the rest of France were drinking: Bordeaux Superieur.
That’s starting to change. The vintner associations are beginning to band together and take advantage of marketing opportunities offered by the internet and social media and attention is being focused on the many and varied…and affordable…wines of Bordeaux Superieur.
There’s a dynamic new website, Planet Bordeaux, to shout the news, supported by tasting tours around the U.S.to catch the attention, and the wallet, of the younger generations of drinkers.
The good news is, with all the many and diverse growers you have many and diverse styles, so there’s something to please everyone, from the old traditionals to the edgy upstarts, from dry Bordeaux Rosé to crisp dry whites to dry red Bordeaux blends, to soft, unctuous sweet whites, and even creamy, sparkling Crèmant de Bordeaux!
The even better news is, all of these wines are for drinking and enjoying now, not investing, and collecting, and impressing your friends with how much you spent . Gee, what a novel idea: Reasonably Priced Wine for drinking!
A case in point:
Chateau d’Argadens, Bordeaux Superieur, 2007
Find a traditional property in Saint-André-du Bois dating back to 1258, purchase it and invest your money and, most important, your expertise gained from a lifetime of being in the Bordeaux wine business, lavish attention on it, treat it like a Grand Cru, and focus on making wine that offers the style of Bordeaux rouge at a reasonable price. That’s what the well-known and highly respected Sichel family did with Ch. D’Argadens.
After a comprehensive renovation of the vat room, building a cellar, and restructuring the vineyards, Sichel raised the viticultural level to the highest possible standards—essentially they farm this Bordeaux Superieur vineyard with the same approach they use in their Grand Cru Classé vineyards!
This results in a thoroughly modern style of Bordeaux, lavish with intense berry fruit as well as soft vanilla oak spice. Opaque in color, dense in texture and almost chewy, with soft, supple tannins, the 2007 is a blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon matured in French oak barrels for 12 months.
If you’re a fan of the modern ‘international’ style of red Bordeaux, you’ll want to try the Ch. d’Argadens, a Bordeaux Superieur exterior with Grand Cru Classé inside. No wonder it’s a gold medal winner. At a $15 SRP in the U.S., this is like a Volkswagen sedan with an Audi S4 under the hood.
For more information, go to the Sichel/Chateau d d’Argadens website.