• By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 11:13 am   |     |   Print   |   Permalink

A month or so ago, while gazing wistfully at the dozens of Bordeaux on the Total Wine shelves and wondering why these wines have to cost so much, my wife hurried over with “news,” anxious to share it with me. My thoughts had been lost in the 1960s and 70s when I prowled the grand Bordeaux estates and was getting on a first-name basis with staff at places like Chateaux Margaux and Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. Those wines were expensive then but still within my range. Robert Parker and Russian oligarchs hadn’t been invented yet.

She led me to an end of the bin and pointed at several wooden boxes, each containing six half-bottles of selected wines from different Bordeaux communes. The box was authentic Bordeaux style, smooth wood with burnished lettering proclaiming “A Bordeaux Experience.” The whole package was $43, about the same amount as the average price for a single bottle of a mid-level cru.

None of the half-bottles came from a “classed” estate, though every label designated a chateau name. Knowing that not every chateau in Bordeaux is an elegant castle and that anyone producing decent wine on his or her estate can call it a chateau, I was not off put and bought a box. This was the first time in a while that I had bought six bottles of Bordeaux at once. I have written many times about how seldom I buy Bordeaux anymore, lamenting that some of the wines I used to treasure now cost as much as my car.

Each of the six half bottles was clearly identified as a “Bordeaux,” assuring me that all the grapes came from that region. One of them even qualified as “Bordeaux Superieur,” giving it a bit of cachet, and two of them even named the commune  from which it came. All had been bottled in the chateau bearing its name. The vintages were 2013 and 2014, still somewhat young for a claret but in half-bottles, maturity comes more quickly.

The wines were delicious, just like those one might get in a corner bistro in any Bordelaise village. No pretension. No haughtiness. Just pleasure.  And now I have a nice Bordeaux box which may prove useful for something.

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