Wine tasting in Bordeaux

Old Jul 18, 18, 12:27 am
  #1  
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Wine tasting in Bordeaux

A few of us will be in Bordeaux for 3 nights in October. We made reservations at a couple of "super second" chateaus for some tour & taste. The premier grand crus donīt seem to want our business, except for Haut-Brion, but they said to check back about a month before we go. Not sure what that means.
Anyway, Iīm a life long Napa cab fan who just started to develop a deeper appreciation for Bordeaux style wine. Wondering if you guys have any tips for a successful tasting in Bordeaux if you have been there.

My main concern is whatever available for tasting is too young, and it would not really reflect well. From my research, they donīt really pour anything that we should drink now.
If we like something, is it a good idea to buy and ship back to the States? How does that work exactly with the VAT refund?
In case we actually got into Haut-Brion, is it worth it to go knowing we wonīt buy anything there? Who are buying these first growth wines but Emirates and collectors anyway?
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Old Jul 18, 18, 7:13 am
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First of all, if you are thinking of buying either First Growths or super-Seconds, pack an outsize credit card, but I 'm sure you know that.

Second, don't get involved in shipping. All of these wines can be damaged if shipped incorrectly - heat will not be at all good for them. And, they are all very easily available in pretty well every major city in the world. I'm presuming the OP is from the USA if he/she likes Napa Cabernet and there are many many places that retail such wines. Likewise it's easy to pick up pretty well any vintage you want from the last 20 or so years. Finally, if you want to save some money, simply buy them from auction - an excellent source of mature Claret.

However, if the OP is looking for young wines to cellar for 20+ years, then the en primeur market is the way to go - they will be delivered in excellent condition (as there's no risk of poor cellaring under previous owners), and can go straight into a good cellar at home.

The final two questions strike me as odd. There will not be many people visiting Haut Brion, or any of the other top chateaux, intending to buy wine directly from them, if it's even available - that's not why you would go there. And surely, other than Emirates airline, collectors are the purpose of the exercise? The problem in Bordeaux is that there are too many speculators buying and too few collectors.
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Old Jul 22, 18, 10:15 pm
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Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
First of all, if you are thinking of buying either First Growths or super-Seconds, pack an outsize credit card, but I 'm sure you know that.

Second, don't get involved in shipping. All of these wines can be damaged if shipped incorrectly - heat will not be at all good for them. And, they are all very easily available in pretty well every major city in the world. I'm presuming the OP is from the USA if he/she likes Napa Cabernet and there are many many places that retail such wines. Likewise it's easy to pick up pretty well any vintage you want from the last 20 or so years. Finally, if you want to save some money, simply buy them from auction - an excellent source of mature Claret.

However, if the OP is looking for young wines to cellar for 20+ years, then the en primeur market is the way to go - they will be delivered in excellent condition (as there's no risk of poor cellaring under previous owners), and can go straight into a good cellar at home.

The final two questions strike me as odd. There will not be many people visiting Haut Brion, or any of the other top chateaux, intending to buy wine directly from them, if it's even available - that's not why you would go there. And surely, other than Emirates airline, collectors are the purpose of the exercise? The problem in Bordeaux is that there are too many speculators buying and too few collectors.
This post pretty much sums it up.

France in general, isn't like Napa where you can just roll up for a tasting or even just fire off an email and assume you'll be booked in.
Even as a sommelier it's almost impossible to get into the first growths unless if you have a prior contact. Sadly I don't.

I actually had a friend ask me for recommendations as well today but short of a few villages, I couldn't offer much.

Have you considered right bank Bordeaux around Pomeral and Saint-Emillion?
Supposedly (can't say I speak from experience) that area is less pretentious and more open to visitors.
From what I've heard (again, no first hand experience) it seems Cheval Blanc does offer tours.

I'm also trying to set up tastings (Germany and Burgundy) and might just have to wing it and hope for the best.
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Old Jul 24, 18, 3:39 pm
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Napa snob factor is getting up there. Plenty of cult wineries that are impossible to get in. In Bordeaux, I can count on 1 hand the places that I cannot get in. In Napa, both hands and legs.
So far, I have reservations at 3 super seconds and can confirm one more, but I'm not too crazy about their wine. Reading through tripadvisors, it seems like you can get a good deal at these chateau, but you have to deal with shipping and stuff.

I don't like the right bank blends. Too much merlot for my taste.
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Old Jul 29, 18, 4:08 pm
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Originally Posted by 5DMarkIIguy View Post
Napa snob factor is getting up there. Plenty of cult wineries that are impossible to get in. In Bordeaux, I can count on 1 hand the places that I cannot get in. In Napa, both hands and legs.
So far, I have reservations at 3 super seconds and can confirm one more, but I'm not too crazy about their wine. Reading through tripadvisors, it seems like you can get a good deal at these chateau, but you have to deal with shipping and stuff.

I don't like the right bank blends. Too much merlot for my taste.
Cult/boutique wineries also have lower budgets and price of grapes/ton is almost as much as my mortgage. I had no issues in January. Only a few places never got back to us. Granted, I was with another sommelier so that did help to open doors.

Merlot is wonderful and one of the few grapes that isn't $$$ from Napa.
Sad how Sideways ruined Merlot, and how a lot of people still look down on it. (not saying that's the case with you though)

On the other hand, it's better for my bank account!
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