On the Trail

A Great Day For Sub-$100 Bordeaux

David Driscoll

With the 2015 Bordeaux campaign revving into high gear, we're beginning to see some of the bigger names jump into the market. So far many of these properties are maintaining their early commitment to "reasonable" prices and today's newest releases were quite heartening. As my co-worker Ryan Moses said to me earlier this morning, "It's a great day for the sub-$100 Bordeaux buyer." There's a slew of fantastic wines that came out well below the bellwether beginning with the outstanding Larcis-Ducasse, St. Emilion's stalwart of old school winemaking. For $66.99, you're getting one of the best Right Bank wines of the vintage, a fact that became quickly known to us when we tasted at the château this past April. Clyde quickly shook hands with the group before getting down to business, passing around a glass to each of us. The wine was brimming with violets and plush fruit and it continued to improve over the course of the evening. We ended up staying for dinner and by the time we finished the second course I think we were all convinced of the wine's greatness. Considering Canon is now double the price, this is a great alternative for those who want more bang for their buck.

At Leoville-Poyferré we were treated to another well-rounded, balanced, and powerful wine with serious structure and potential for the long haul. Released today at $74.99, the 2015 grand vin is another big winner for those in search of serious quality for more realistic prices. Our man Phil (pictured to the right) was quite taken aback by the St. Julien property, going so far as to call it one of the wines of the vintage. "It's savory with deep cherry, black currant and cassis with floral lift," he wrote in his review. "This wine has an intense, polished and pliant mid-palate with iron minerality. My first and my last taste at the UGC St-Julien as this was a standout and tasted again at the Chateau with consistent notes."

We've been fans of Canon La Gaffelière for decades and current owner Stephen von Neipperg is a long time friend of the store. Ralph Sands, one of our premier Bordeaux experts, has long praised the quality of the Neipperg wines, touting them as top values to customers back before the property had the press it currently enjoys today. He was no less enthralled with the 2015 vintage which released at $79.99 this morning, writing: "This is a strong CLG with elegance!. Penetrating red fruit, very precise and focused with firm structure. Needs at least ten years in the cellar." As always, there's a lush richness to the wine that showcases some of the ripeness enjoyed by select producers this vintage. 

The big winner for me personally of today's sub-$100 releases is the 2015 Smith Haut Lafitte, a wine that simply stunned in my opinion when we visited the property on our trip. I consider anything above fifty bucks to be a splurge bottle, but with Bordeaux anything that drinks as well as the 2015 SHL for less than a hundred dollars is a hot deal! This wine was right there with the outstanding Pape Clement for my taste. It's a complex wine—all about the relationship between the fruit and the potent minerality. The tannins are soft and round on the palate and the wine is silky on the finish. Finesse is a word you'll hear a lot when describing the 2015 Bordeaux vintage. There are few better examples than this. Plus, the estate is simply gorgeous! Look at that photo!

-David Driscoll