Wines from Pauillac receive top scores from critics and can age for very long periods of time. Although producers from this area only make traditional Cabernet Sauvignon-based blends, there’s still plenty of diversity of flavor in these wines, making the tasting experience very exciting. If you want to start your own Pauillac wine collection from scratch or you’re looking for new wines to add to an already extensive collection, then this guide will help you discover the best wines that this region has to offer.
A few years ago, a wine enthusiast wrote a letter to Wine Spectator’s Dr. Vinifera asking whether it’s safe to decant Sauternes. The letter writer had just come back from a restaurant and had been surprised to see that the sommelier poured a 1995 Château d’Yquem from a decanter. Dr. Vinifera responded that decanting Château d’Yquem certainly isn’t a common practice, but it’s also not a bad idea. Like any other fine wine, some Sauternes vintages open up with a little aeration and become more expressive.
What makes a great Château d’Yquem vintage? All of these wines are excellent–the château doesn’t release a vintage if the grapes aren’t satisfactory–and they’re all designed to age for decades, so there aren’t many vintages that fall short. Still, different vintages have different strengths. You’ll find vintages that taste mature just 35 years after release and others that still taste exceptionally young at age 50. Some collectors prefer Château d’Yquem bottles that develop mature flavors fairly early whereas others prefer wines that age more slowly. This guide will help you find the best Château d’Yquem vintages based on your personal preferences and goals.
Usually, winemakers in Bordeaux are hesitant to call a vintage superb until all of the grapes have been picked and the wine has finished fermenting. This year, however, winemakers across the region are thrilled with the quality and ripeness of the grapes–they’re already calling the 2018 Bordeaux harvest one of the most successful of the past decade. While it’s still too early to make any definitive predictions about the investment potential of the 2018 vintage, based on the health of the grapes picked so far, you can expect to see plenty of age-worthy, intense wines. This is a vintage that you’ll want to keep a close watch on as it develops over the next few months.
Finding the right Château d’Yquem food pairing can be a challenge–although Yquem is an intense and powerful wine, some foods will overpower its complex flavors. I know a wine enthusiast who served a bottle of 1947 Château d’Yquem alongside a platter of very strong cheese (including blue cheese and aged asiago). The bold flavors of the blue cheese completely overwhelmed his palate and he could no longer taste the Yquem properly. Frustrated after this experience, he decided to only drink Yquem on its own in the future or to pair it with very delicate, mild foods like lobster or fresh pear. He’s now afraid to serve the wine with anything too bold or savory.
Before you invest in Left Bank or Right Bank wines, you’ll want to understand their key differences. For example, while both banks make age-worthy, collectible wines, the Left Bank tends to make wines with better aging potential overall compared to most wines from the Right Bank. This is why many collectors perceive the Left Bank to be more collectible; the Left Bank is also home to all five of Bordeaux’s First Growth producers. However, when it comes to Left Bank vs. Right Bank Bordeaux, the differences go beyond collectibility.
When I bought my first Bordeaux wine, I learned the hard way that storing Bordeaux requires careful planning. For instance, I didn’t realize that wines like 1999 Palmer and 1990 Château d’Yquem mature at different rates. I soon found out that each wine has its own timetable; the Palmer is already drinking well now and I may have to uncork it soon, whereas the Yquem could stay in my cellar for another 30 years.
With ripe, perfumed aromas and lively acidity, the 2017 Bordeaux vintage is shaping up to be a very approachable release for collectors. It’s true that these wines aren’t quite as exciting and sumptuous as the recent 2015 and 2016 vintages, but 2017 Bordeaux is still worth consideration. This vintage is perfect for early to mid-term drinking, with a great expression of terroir. However, before you invest in 2017 Bordeaux wine futures, keep in mind that quality varies in this vintage and many producers had to overcome poor weather conditions. You’ll need to choose your bottles carefully, but if you do, you can expect to find supremely drinkable, fresh-tasting wines that you can enjoy while your more legendary bottles mature.
With rich, dark berry flavors, spicy aromatics, and a lavish (yet still well-structured) personality, Canon vintages are among the most interesting Classe B Saint-Émilion wines. And if you haven’t already sampled this estate’s incredible wines, then now is an excellent time to start. The producer is gaining in popularity on the secondary market and is showing great promise for investors as well as for avid drinkers. There has never been a better time to be a passionate Canon fan.
The Best 2006 Bordeaux Gifts: This Unusual, Breathtaking Vintage Will Impress Nearly Every Collector
In Bordeaux, there are vintages that seem destined for success from the start—and then there are the “sleeper vintages,” the wines that hide their true power for a decade or more. The 2006 Bordeaux vintage is one of these rare sleepers. While it was overshadowed by the legendary 2005 vintage in its youth, today, the best 2006 Bordeaux is rich, intensely concentrated, and an absolute joy to drink. These qualities, coupled with the wine’s potential for aging, make it the perfect gift for wine collectors on your holiday list this year. In order to take advantage of all that this vintage has to offer, you’ll need to consider which appellations had the most success, and choose the wines with the greatest potential for aging.
The Bordeaux 2017 harvest was grueling for most wineries, to say the least. Even on Premier Cru estates, it took winemakers every ounce of effort to grow and pick a minuscule number of grapes by the end of the harvest season. In many terroirs, yields were down by an average of 41 percent, sometimes more. This means that some winemakers were left struggling to find enough grapes with which to produce wine.
Renowned wine critic James Suckling is fortunate enough to sample some of the greatest wines in the world, from legendary DRC vintages to the rarest Lafite-Rothschild. So when a critic as experienced as Suckling calls a wine “mythic,” it certainly commands attention. Suckling’s review of 2005 LaFleur Pomerol is downright gushing; he calls this wine “fine and beautiful” with a “rich, powerful palate” that continues to build long after the last drop hits your tongue. This is one of the many reasons why 2005 LaFleur is considered the best Bordeaux blend for collectors who adore a more muscular wine.