Wine Talk

Snooth User: tabednar

My First Grand Cru Bordeaux

Posted by tabednar, Nov 7, 2011.


Finally had an oppurtunity to get a Grand Cru Bordeaux for a resonable price, and a 2005 third growth at that!

I haven't opened it yet. I may let it sit a while. Anyone have this Chateau? Any suggestions for other reasonable Grand Cru worth trying? Just Curious as always...


Reply by MReff, Nov 13, 2011.

The 2005's are somewhat, and I mean that lightly starting to come around.  You unfortunately committed a wine faux pas.  You should have bought two bottles, opened one now and then determine how long you need to wait to open up the second one.

Reply by tabednar, Nov 13, 2011.

Well unfortunately I do not have the means to purchase a second one right now or a proper way to store a large amount of wine. I was given this bottle as a gift and will have to rely on reviews and the literature to know when I should open it. Fuax pas or not, I am happy to have it... ;)

Reply by dmcker, Nov 14, 2011.

MReff's recommendation is a good one. Always buy two *or more* bottles when the bottle is one you're curious about, and you have a fair inkling the bottle is to some degree special and will benefit from aging. When there's only one, I guess you should just read your fill about it, as you seem to be doing, then bite the bullet and pop the cork. Save a little for the second day, so you'll see how it might age. Then if you think you like it, figure whether it's chasing down another bottle or two.

There are other classified Bordeauxs out there (and some even better that didn't make that 19th century classification) within pricing reason, even these days. Start exploring--but buying two or more bottles, whenever it makes sense, and you can!  ;-)


Reply by violawolf, Nov 14, 2011.

Unless you have a cellar or decent wine fridge, I would drink it within the next 2 to 3 years.  If you do have the means to age it correctly, then 5 to 10+ years is probably a fair drinking window considering the price of the bottle and the fact that 2005 is the greatest vintage of Margaux in quite some time. 

Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 17, 2011.

Ahh, the Bordeaux classification system.  So in 1855 this wine made the grade for troisieme and now it's so expensive you cannot afford to buy more than one to see if it's really worthy of aging, which is a way to say, a wine well made enough to justify the high price that makes it impossible to buy two.  Anyone see the Catch 22 in the proposition? Do you need a classified growth at all?  Here is a pretty good article about the madness, with recos a few wines you could hunt down. K&L has a wine that is from a 3rd growth vineyard that was purchased after the classification by another vineyard, so it cannot be classified. Not sure what you paid for this, but you can definitely find thirds in a range of prices, although that vintage gets a little more pricey. If you go back to 2003, which was also a highly rated vintage, you can get La Lagune for about $50.

Naturally, none of the vines from 1855 of any of the classified properties is still in existence.  And none of the winemakers are still there.  Virtually all of them have been sold to different owners, many of them corporations (and not even French ones--Suntory, Diageo, and on and on). Winemaking techniques have changed (thank goodness).  In some cases, the land was obviously a factor in the quality of the wines, but as GregT has pointed out elsewhere, Bordeaux was a swamp at one point.  You would hope that the plantings since phylloxera would have been more judiciously made with the benefit of science, so the playing field would be leveled between wineries that guessed right about the correct proportions of grapes and the ones that didn't, back in 1855. Of course, carmenere never was replanted, and it played a big role (Grand Vidure, it was called then), and they used to "improve" the wines with (probably) Syrah from the Rhone back in the time of the classification. This wine is actually more merlot heavy than most Margaux, if you believe the Wiki entry.

Some of the classified wineries, during hard times, sold off some of the vineyards, as noted above, but the wines made by subsequent Chateaux carved from those vineyards haven't been classified. I'm also finding 2005 Desmirail at $35 or so.  You could argue it's not a true third because the Lurtons put it back together from parcels that had been broken up, but that would just solidify my argument about the vines, winemakers, and winemaking practices.

Not trying to rain on your parade.  I hope this is great.  But buy lots of wines that don't carry the extra price of being classified and compare them blind.  Cellar some cheaper wines, too, and you might be surprised.  Consider buying some of the aged Mayacamas wines that Garagiste offered recently.Not cheap, but it could be that once-in-a-lifetime thing that classified Bords are supposed to be, but aren't always.

And, as always, let us know when you drink this.  I'm curious, too.


Reply by JonDerry, Nov 18, 2011.

Any Mayacamas in your cellar Fox? Still another i've yet to try.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 18, 2011.

I had to pass on the Mayacamas offers.  I've had it before, I'm pretty sure, but it didn't make a strong impression back then--would have been either in 2002 or the mid '90s.  Right now, as you can see from CT, I have a lot of middling to better cab from the area--Dunn, Chappellet, Hall, Bell--and some off the beaten stuff, like Altus, Phelan, Villa Hermosa, wineries that were sold or in distress when I bought the bottles.  "A lot" being a relative term, of course, but it accounts for something like 88 bottles.  When the Garagiste offer came, I strongly considered adding to my daughters' birth year stocks with a 2001 and a 2003, since Mayacamas has a reputation as a great ager.  Still thinking about adding bottles for those years of that, Heitz (gotta be Martha's, tho) or Montelena, but it's a big commitment.

Reply by dmcker, Nov 18, 2011.

You could do a lot, lot worse than the Mayacamas. Both reds and whites age extremely well and tastily. Just had a '79 cab last month that was in great shape, and the wine of the night amongst several. The only bottles of theirs I've ever had trouble with were their late-harvest zins. Not what I was expecting or wanting when I first tackled. But that was a couple decades ago, so maybe I should give them a try again some time... ;-)

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