If we were to feature a Napa red blend with twin 94 point reviews from Antonio Galloni and James Suckling at $29.99, we'd be up to our eyeballs in web orders and we'd likely blow through huge floor stacks of bottles in hours. That's partially because Napa Cabernet isn't known for its great values. I scrolled through Robert Parker's latest Napa report this morning before work and found it difficult to locate wines under $75 among the top candidates. That being said, finding wines with the holy trinity of prestige, press, and price in Bordeaux from 2014 has been relatively easy. Why? Because the entire industry is focused on the subsequent 2015 and 2016 harvests with their bigger fruit flavors, higher scores, and even higher price tags. In the shadow of two gargantuan older brothers, 2014 has completely fallen off the spectrum for most American collectors and that's led to a market with plenty of great options. That's, of course, when we like to strike; especially when we can make a deal with a property and a producer we happen to love. Enter the 2014 Barde Haut, perhaps the best value yet from a vintage that keeps on giving.
Barde Haut is usually one of my top five value picks in any vintage, but in 2014 where pretty much the entire harvest itself is a value compared to the higher-priced 15/16 duo, Barde Haut stands out as a supreme deal: a "MUST BUY," if you ask me. I won't bore you with additional tasting notes about how delicious the wine tastes, rather I'll get straight to the bullet points: 1) You can drink this tonight, or a decade from now, or anytime in between. The suppleness of the fruit is enticing right now, but the wine has both the acidity and the tannic structure for long-term maturation and evolution. Few wines in this price point and with this pedigree offer that type of versatility. 2) The scores here don't lie, and there are few 94 pointers in the sub-$30 category. The Barde Haut is true-to-form St. Emilion with chalky, mineral typicity underneath all that fruit, for a slam dunk price. 3) This is the ultimate Bordeaux gateway bottle for California drinkers who want to expand their horizons. You get ample fruit from the Merlot, but it's very much a classic Bordeaux claret in style. If you're intrigued by Bordeaux and want to venture into its waters without emptying your wallet, the 2014 Barde Haut is a great place to start. I bought a case when it landed, and now that I've emptied that case I'm going back in for more.