Trial by Jury: Aged ‘Value’ Bordeaux

Trial by Jury: Aged ‘Value’ Bordeaux

Post by Chuck Hayward | December 1st, 2011

To drink, one must pull corks

Over the course of the past few months, evidence has been put forth that Bordeaux, as Rodney Dangerfield might say, “ain’t got no respect”. It’s an observation that Matt Kramer made in a recent Wine Spectator piece as well as by Eric Asimov in the The New York Times. These articles attempt to discern the “whys” of it all. For instance, why is it that Bordeaux doesn’t get much love these days? But we aren’t asking that question at JJ Buckley, as our third annual tribute to Bordeaux sold out in record time, once again.

Each year, our tasting highlights one of Bordeaux’s frequently forgotten attributes—they are wines of incredible value. And this year, we decided to investigate another important quality of Bordeaux—the capacity of Bordeaux’s flavors and aromas to be transformed with time in the cellar. Spanning vintages from 1998-2003, with prices ranging from $25-$45 per bottle, this tasting was a great opportunity to examine the evidence firsthand.

The verdict? They were holding up magnificently! Going though over two dozen wines from the Left and Right Banks along with a few satellite appellations, everyone remarked on how well the wines were showing. In fact, there wasn’t a dud in the lineup. It was clear to all that wines don’t have to be grand cru classe to reap the benefits of aging.

The scene of the crime: La Folie Lounge

Some high points included a lithe and silky 2001 Rocher-Bellevue-Figeac that was seamless and mellow. As expected, the 2000 vintage showed its pedigree with each example exhibiting power and intensity and bottlings from Haut Marbuzet and Du Terte performing above their punching weight. The 2000s were just beginning to show a modicum of softness and breadth but clearly have the potential to go a few decades. Drinking them now is a bit of infanticide but if you like them young, make sure to splash in a decanter.

The biggest surprise, however, proved to be the performance of a few wines from not-so-well-regarded vintages, such as 2001 and 2002. The ‘01s displayed the elegance and finesse that come from ten years of aging, as each example was poised and balanced, hitting that plateau that can make Bordeaux so seductive. Many critics consider 2002 a further step down from the other assembled vintages, yet the ‘02s proved to be a revelation. Both the La Confession and Rol Valentin had a ripe purity of fruit that provided more power and richness than expected from a moderate vintage. These two vintages should be explored for well-priced mature wines.

What has impressed me about Bordeaux is not only the region’s ability to reinvent itself but its capacity to surprise. This tasting was focused on so-called value wines that celebrated terroir and the influence of vintage in a clear fashion to the amazement of seasoned professionals and enthusiastic consumers. Can’t wait to see what delights lie in wait for next year’s event!


  1. I’ve been enjoying the 99s immensely (similar price points) and have held the couple more expensive Lynch Bages and Palmer for future consumption.

    As for my 00s, I’ve yet to pop any of them, so thanks for the heads-up on their long life ahead of them Chuck!

    1. Hello ericindc!! Thanks for checking out this blogpost. Unfortunately, we didn’t take any notes for cellartracker, very busy pouring wine!! But that’s a good idea for future tastings and for putting on our site as well. Thanks!

      1. What a great idea, and I agree…. You, and other professional wine tasters really should put notes on cellartracker. CT is followed by so many people. It would be a whole new avenue to let people know who you are, the company you represent and your thoughts on that particular wine.

        A terrific “wine-wine proposition” if I ever saw one!.

  2. I think most people love Bordeaux, but get angry when the prices get jacked up year after year, with ’08 a noticeable break. I guess when people have been buying their favorite chateaux for years it seems that the Old Guard seem to have little appreciation for their loyal customer. I realize that this is a market driven situation and the the chateaux don’t have any real customers other than the negociants, but for me ’09 will be the last year I buy any futures. There is just so much fine wines coming from WA, CA (Napa all the way down), as well as producers from the Haut-Medoc that seem to offer a more value for quality ratio. Times are changing, I also second the importance of posting TN’s on cellar tracker. With out CT, JJ Buckley wouldn’t be on my radar as I live in NY.

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