The 2015 Bordeaux Offer

The more Bordeaux I drink, the smarter I get, I think.

When considering a region that is so strictly terroir-based, i.e.: whatever happened to that farm that year happened to the wine, the variance between vintages is pronounced and easy to compare. In fact, the more you taste of the last bunch of vintages, the more the personality of each year emerges. I’ve taken to thinking of recent Bordeaux vintages like strolling past various birds in an aviary; each year is a different bird. Hey, the aviary is open, come stroll with me!

2009 is a lusciously feathered, prize-winning peacock, whose luminous tail contains all the colours of the rainbow. He’s gotten kind of fat because we keep giving him celebratory biscuits, but he’s still beautiful and shiny and omg I wanna give him another biscuit.

2010 is an eagle. A majestically strong, stoic eagle of regal stature who will outlive me and you and the building we’re in. Some people get weirded out because the eagle doesn’t seem to move, but he actually does – just not when you’re looking. I am not worthy enough to gaze upon the eagle any longer. Also, I am crying.

2011 is a handsome falcon who obeys orders and tastefully fulfils all expectations, but you can’t see him because he’s behind the eagle.

2012 is two feet and a beak poking out of an egg. We don’t really know what kind of a bird it’ll be yet; It’s a really nice beak so things might turn out great, but man that bird is taking its sweet time to come out.

2013 well, damn. That’s not even a bird, it’s a platypus. What the hell.

2014 is a healthy, fluffy pigeon. He can move cars with his mind and witness several dimensions in unison, but everyone walks by him because he’s a pigeon. The pigeon is Zen so he understands and does not mind.

2015 is the last bird on our tour, and worth the wait because she has the best attributes of all the other birds (except the platypus, who has now soiled his own bed). She’s strong like the eagle, shiny like the peacock and possesses powers we are only starting to understand.

We didn’t think we’d see another classic Bordeaux vintage for a while, let alone another one-two punch like the dynamic duo of 2009/2010, but the 2015/2016 vintages have added new pages to the book of legends. If we’re being granular the right bank (St. Emillon, Pomerol, Merlot-based wines etc.) made out slightly better, but 2015 was a tide that lifted all boats, and the quality was superb up and down the ladder.

But every silver lining comes with a cloud, and the bad news is that the prices are back up to the “no-I-meant-what-is-the-price-for-one-bottle” level of the 09/10 vintages. At the end of this month the government will release their list of 2015 classified growths. We’ll have a handful of those too, but not until a bit later because for some reason our classified growths were held up at the LDB (running private wine retail in BC is like playing cards against one who is both player and dealer).

Collecting Bordeaux can stretch our collecting budgets well beyond comfort and reason, and it can present a dilemma: How can you possibly buy smart and wide, instead of putting all your eggs in just a couple of gilded baskets? Well, like this:

Our talented and attractive buying team (take me with you next time, guys!!) has found lesser-known but well-rated 2015s from all over Bordeaux, all for under $100. Some are collectable, some are glugable, but they are all 2015s and available right now. We’ll be pouring many of these on Saturday at 2pm if you’d like to try them. To the juice:



Chateau Greysac 2015, Médoc. For the French in Bordeaux, driving past a historical estate must be like driving past a barn in Chilliwack for us – you really don’t think much about who built it or when, and you only care if it grows something you want. Likewise, nobody cared about the 1700s-era Greysac estate until the Angelli family (one-time owners of Fiat and Chateau Margaux) bought it in 1975, modernized the facility and started to squeeze good juice. Situated near the top of the Médoc, Greysac is more influenced by the whims of the Atlantic so vintage variance is pronounced but this 2015 is way-fab. Nearly equal Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, a medium-to-full body with soft but pronounced tannins and baking spice. A tad randy now, but we don’t want to lose those blackberries so a 5-year nap will get us to the sweet spot. 91 points Wine Advocate, $54.99

Aurore de Dauzac 2015, Margaux. I picture wine from Margaux as a bouquet of lavender wrapped around a pencil, after that pencil has murdered a box of blueberries. Aurore is the Second Wine to the 5th Growth Chateau Dauzac, Cab dominant with just enough Merlot to fill all the holes. The Floral and fruit elements are here as well as tobacco and oaky vanillin – this is a ripe and quite drinkable Bordeaux but could still mellow out a smidge with time. Layered and exciting. Whereas many Second Wines are built from the passed-over barrels for the Gran Vin, Aurore is selected geologically, from grapes on mineral-rich deep gravel. Good structure and a generally good attitude, if you don’t drink Aurore you could hire it. 92 points James Suckling, $75.99

Chateau Lilian Ladouys 2015, St. Estèphe. Consistently one of my favourite houses (within the realm of affordability) and a living example that you should always get your homework handed in on time. Just a few hundred metres from Lafite, the 19th-century owners of this 16th-century house failed, as legend has it, to get their certifications to the adjudicators in time to qualify for placement in the 1855 Bordeaux Classification. Now co-owned with Chateau Margaux by the Lorenzetti family, the 21st century has seen a renaissance in quality at Ladouys, and the Merlot-driven wines this Cru Bourgeois has offered in the last 2 decades have been at or above the quality level of Classified Growths (IMO), but without the accordant prices. As frame-forward as any St Estèphe, with deep mineral postholes and bright red fruits with white blossoms and toast. Tight now, Approachable in 5 years, singing in ten. Buy everything you can, this sleeper wakes up as a knight. 92 points James Suckling, $75.99

La Devise de Lilian 2014, St. Estèphe. The Second Wine to the above Lilian Ladouys made about as soft and inviting as a St Estèphe can get, like dressing a wolverine in a Spongebob costume. Cabernet-driven and quite a bit more approachable than the Grand Vin, with generous black fruit and bits of smoky caramel leading the way, this is elegantly drinkable and more than a bit floral. Rich and delicious but it’s still a St. Estèphe and it still doesn’t trust you, so decant it long enough for it to get used to your scent. $51.99

Chateau le Pey 2015, Médoc. Another Cru Bourgeois northern-Médoc 50/50 Cab/Merlot blend with great value from the Compagnet family – Father, Mother and both sons run nearly everything (not to be confused with the much larger, more commercial Ch. Pey La Tour). Ripe blue fruit dominates this 2015, with chocolate powder, plum, blackberry, firm tannins and a dusty finish. Everything is good to go but the finish, it’s still kind of angular and needs the soft rub of a couple years to smooth it out. $39.99

Chateau Peyrabon 2015 MAGNUM (1.5L), Haut-Médoc. One of the few estates that straddle two Bordeaux appellations, Haut-Médoc and Pauillac. This Cru Bourgeois is from the Haut-Médoc side, a large plot of 40 hectares from where dark, plummy, spicy Cab-driven wines spring forth. One of the only houses to ever sue to get accepted into the 1855 Classification (the suit was filed in 1869, they were refused), Peyrabon smells like smarties (no kidding) and drinks like an excellent idea, soft and approachable even in youth, the fact that we’re selling this gulper in Magnums is deliciously frightening. 91 points Wine Enthusiast, $99.99


Le Dauphin d’Olivier 2015, Pessac Leognan. The Second Wine to Chateau Olivier, a Classified Growth of Graves (The wineries of Graves/Pessac, Bordeaux’s oldest growing region on the eastern side of the city, have their own classification system apart from/in tandem with the 1855 table. Don’t worry, it’ll all sort itself out). Nobody is entirely sure how old Olivier is, the running guess is that it dates back to the Plantagenets and has a credible claim to be the oldest wine estate in Bordeaux, and is also one of the few “Chateaux” that is, in fact, an actual castle (moat and drawbridge included). The estate itself is quite large, boasting forest, prairies and vineyards, and owned by the same family since the mid-1800s, making Merlot/Cabernet wines that teem with blackberries and raspberries locked in a cigar box. The Dauphin has always had a rep for being uncannily close to its bigger brother in quality. $59.99

Le Dauphin d’Olivier Blanc 2016, Pessac Leognan. The white version of the above (many Pessac houses are as well known for their whites as their reds), a blend of 50/50 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon. Floral and stone fruit notes reign over lesser toasty bits. Delicious now, will get better in 5 years and then will get weirder. Weighty and powerful, not a “patio” wine unless your patio is made of dragons. $55.99

Clos des Lunes Lune d’Argent 2015, Bordeaux Blanc. A Semillon-driven hellcat from 30-year-old organic vines, this is a dry white wine made in Sauternes by Domaine de Chevalier, the bonkers-good (and expensive) classified growth of Graves. Thick and viscous with fantastic, layered acidity; pear, honeysuckle and citrus on the nose. If I have any left of this after this weekend then everyone is very silly. 93 points James Suckling, 92 points Wine Spectator, $39.99


Chateau Haut Brisson 2015, Saint Emillon Grand Cru. An elegant, restrained Emillon with a medium body and good aging potential. Leathery raisins swirl around the nose with strawberries and sweet oak, creamy palate and lively finish. As such I was surprised to learn that winemaking consultant/arsonist Michel Rolland (Masseto, Oculus, Pedestal, land mines, booster rockets, etc.) was involved in this, the style is far more graceful than what he’s known for. Gorgeous and inviting, 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. 95 points James Suckling, $84.99

Chateau Tour Saint-Christophe 2015, Saint Emillon Grand Cru. Ok, here’s the bunker-buster Michel Rolland wine I was expecting (he consults on this also, he is busy), 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and somehow 5% Napalm. This is the biggest boy in today’s sandbox, rich, textured and gloriously boozy; the nose is like a blueberry bagel and a slice of Christmas cake started playing leapfrog (that is a weird descriptor but try it on Saturday and tell me I’m wrong). Although robust, the wine is mostly in balance with itself, the tannins are a tad pokey but with food you won’t mind. Will be spectacular in 5 years. Probably the best value in this offer. 96 James Suckling, 95 Jeb Dunnuck, $89.99

Chateau de Pitray 2015, Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. A robust, grippy affair, boasting a saline, almost sandy nose over lower notes of chocolate syrup and blackberry jam. Boasting a family history going back to the 1500s and an absolutely marvelous Chateau, the Pitray estate has been a getaway for the wealthy for centuries, wine until very recently was a secondary pursuit. 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc, the tannic finish is still a little out of step with everything else but this’ll all come together gloriously in 3-4 years. 90 points Wine Enthusiast, $39.99