Just When I Was About to Write Off Affordable Bordeaux

Sunday, March 6, 2016

If there's one category that's consistently failed to provide a good match for my taste in wine at affordable price points it's been Bordeaux.

Sure there have been a few bottles I've enjoyed here and there. But on average the wines I've tried rated 90+ by Spectator costing $30 or less have been bitter, savegely tannic disappointments that have clogged up the works of my wine stash.

2005 was the first vintage of the century I've been aware of in my time as a wine enthusiast. Now with 10 years of age, these wines have done little to endear themselves to me. Maybe in another decade their fruit will finally mercifully come forward, but my experience has been sufficiently negative as to make it unlikely I'll buy many more.

With 2009 and 2010 garnering praise on par with 2005 I started to grow weary of the hype. I bought a few well regarded wines with the hopes that Spectator's "round and friendly" descriptors of the 2009s from St Emilion might make these wines more relatable to my new world-leaning palate. To be honest I didn't have high hopes given that Bordeaux are often described with delicious sounding adjectives ("powerful!", "rich!", "mocha") that end up tasting stern and rough with drying tannins.

So it was with muted expectation that I opened a bottle of 2009 Chateau Pipeau last night. Here's how Wine Spectator's James Molesworth described it:

This rich red is nicely coated with espresso and dark fig over a core of plum and blackberry fruit. Stays velvety through the toasty but well-integrated finish. Best from 2013 through 2023. 91 points.

A rich red, coated with espresso? Sign me up!

I took a sniff and a sip just to make sure it wasn't corked before serving it to our guests and I was blown away.

This wine is something special.

My notes...

2009 Chateau Pipeau
13.5% Alcohol
11,665 Cases Produced
$30 Release Price

Nearly opaque visually, this wine opens with dark chocolate, bold fruit, and vanilla tinged oak influence. Ample mouthfeel and presence, more substantial than its 13.5% alcohol would otherwise indicate. Yet still elegant. Nice tannic grip, but luscious and invites another sip. Impressive.

93/100 WWP: Oustanding

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