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Tag Archives: Bordeaux wine

Winebits 185: Bordeaux prices, direct shipping, Chinese wine

French government weighs in: The controversy over skyrocketing prices for red Bordeaux increased this week when the French foreign minister said prices for the wines "are actually great value." The Bordeaux pricing mess has turned into great theater, especially since that's how most of us — who can't afford the thousands of dollars a bottle that the best wines command — get to enjoy Bordeaux these days. Can you imagine Hillary Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state, weighing in on Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon prices? But, to paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald, the French are different from you and me.

HR 1161 update: Ignore the headline on the story that this links to, because it's not especially accurate. Instead, know that HR 1161, the direct shipping bill that everyone in the wine business loves to hate, is as dead as always. The bill has no sponsor in the U.S. Senate, which means that the Senate can't consider the bill. Which means it won't become law, and which means that those of you who buy wine directly from the winery in the 38 states that allow it will be able to continue to do so.

China becomes leading producer: The Chinese wine industry makes more wine than the Australian industry does, which is just one more bad piece of news for the Aussie in a decade of what seems to be unrelenting bad news. The article, which is actually a video transcript, offers some interesting insights into the battle for market share between Chinese producers and the rest of the wine world.

Expensive wine 26: Chateau Lafon-Rochet 1995

What better way to describe this wine than with a quote from my pal Jim Serroka. Jim drinks wine, but is not as serious about it as the Wine Curmudgeon. As such, he often provides much needed perspective. Said Jim: "This is what I thought wine was supposed to taste like."

The Lafon-Rochet ($60, gift) is a big-deal Bordeaux wine, a fourth-growth from Saint-Estephe on Bordeaux's left bank. Fourth-growth means the winery was included in the 1855 rankings of French wine, which classified the wineries in five groups, one (the best) to five; it's still the way left-bank Bordeaux wine is rated by the French. Saint-Estephe, meanwhile, is one of the world's great wine regions, if not quite up to Margaux and Paulliac.

As such, Lafon-Rochet has always been considered a value for this kind of wine. It provides Bordeaux quality, especially for older vintages, without the ridiculous cash outlay that so much Bordeaux requires. That's one reason why my brother, who gave me the bottle, bought it.

The Lafon-Rochet has aged well, and this is a silky, velvety wine. It still has discreet black fruit and those wonderful Bordeaux aromas — mushrooms, forest floor and the like. The oak and fruit are tightly integrated, and the finish seems to go on forever. Don't expect to find New World-style tannins and acid. They're not there, partly from the aging, partly from the style of winemaking, and partly because this wine has more merlot than most left-bank Bordeaux, which focus on cabernet sauvignon. And yes, it would make a nice Father's Day gift for those thinking that far ahead.

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