OWING TO LONG DELAYS, PARCEL REJECTION AND UNCERTAINTY AT EU CUSTOMS, WE HAVE RELUCTANTLY SUSPENDED SHIPPING TO EU NATIONS. NB: DELIVERIES TO NORTHERN IRELAND AND THE CHANNEL ISLANDS CONTINUE.

DWWA20-topping (97/95-pt), super-affordable Bordeaux pair

We’re delighted to extend our offering of the top – and most appealing – wines of the Decanter World Wine Awards 2020 (DWWA20) with two delicious and super-affordable Bordeaux(s) from the same Château, one a 97-point Platinum winner and the other a 95-point Gold.

Perhaps the headline element of this is that both wines do that at £13.50 or less.


See this page (linked here) for all of the wines we offer from DWWA20.

The biggest hits of this DWWA season have been Bordeaux(s). We didn’t really expect this; in general, we tend to see greater interest in wines from the New World and elsewhere in Europe (esp Rioja; watch this space) and the DWWA wines this year have typically appeared at a level below that which tend to excite most Bordeaux buyers. This rather bears out the enduring appeal of Bordeaux.

The first two Bordeaux that we brought in from DWWA20 were both Bests in Show. They are, alas, long gone here and at source, being this one and this one. That’s DWWA winners for you. What the first of these, the Lacombe Cadiot, fully showed us, though, was just how excellent and popular a young (2019) Bordeaux at ~£13 could be. It was one of the real revelations of DWWA 20.

These two new ones fit exactly that same mould. We clocked these immediately the results became available. However, being young wines, they are only just available now and we’re delighted to have them landing here very shortly (see below).

We’ll tell you about them…

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The region

They are from the Côtes de Blaye. For the unitiated:

  • That’s the biggish zone behind the impressive Vauban citadelle of Blaye on the Right Bank of the Gironde estuary (see map below).
  • Despite being one of the oldest wine-producing regions of Bordeaux, it is not one of the regions of deepest reknown. Margaux or St-Emilion, it is not.
  • It’s something of a mishmash of soil types; clay and limestone predominate. Oz Clarke, in his excellent book, Bordeaux, is quite emphatic that the better wines of this zone hail from the soil with a high limestone component (and that applies to our two wines).
  • It’s also had something of an identity problem, with its appellations undergoing much subdivision and then re-amalgamation (rather like government departments) over the last 20 years. We’ll not go too deeply into that here (there is plenty online for the dedicated). Virtually everything here now appears under the Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux appellation nowadays (as, indeed, do our wines).
  • Where you arrive at with any region that is not universally top-flight – and the Côtes de Blaye is/are not – is to choose carefully. We made this point recently regarding Langedoc. Good years and good producers are key.
  • 2019 has already been much praised as a vintage on both Banks; it may not be 2005 or 2010 … but it’s very fine.
  • It’s harder finding good producers without a lot of Chateau visits (fun but tricky), especially because many of the Côtes’ wines don’t leave France. So that’s where reviews and recommendations particularly kick in… hence this article.

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The producer

Since 1464, Château Bourdieu’s vineyards have flourished. It is now owned by the Schweitzer family and covers some 75 hectares of AOC Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. The estate vineyards are an average of 35 years in age and grow on a mixture of clay, (mainly) limestone and gravel soils. Luc – who purchased Bourdieu in 1993 - and his two sons - Ludovic and Richard – have propelled Bourdieu to producing some of the finest wines in the appellation.

Each of their cuvées is made with the same attention and the same passion. All are produced with immediacy and earlier drinking in mind.

Which brings us to the two wines. Meant very politely, do pay attention. It’s easy to get muddled up here.

  • There are similarities, and there are differences. The pair of the wines make for an intriguing compare-and-contrast (and great go-to wines in their own right, of course).
  • They’re both 2019s and both are from the exact same vineyards. In vineyard terms alone, they are the same wine.
  • Both wines are predominantly (85%+) Merlot, as this is what the Côtes de Blaye and Chateau Bourdieu specialise in. The balance in both wines is mainly Cab Sauv, with the wines differing in their use of 3% Cab Franc or Malbec (that ancient Bordeaux variety).
  • Both, then, have that black fruit softness for which well-grown Merlot is known: damsons, brambles, plums, black cherries and a sumptuous softness. But, being young, and with a Cabernet component, there is acidity and bite and just that hint of cassis.
  • The key difference lies in the winery and in the (albeit fairly short) elevage/ageing. Essentially: one sees no oak contact to maximise the full fruit forwardness, directness and appeal; the other sees some 5-6 months of oak ageing to bring in complexity of flavour.

We're recorded a video tasting of the two - click here to take a look.

To the unoaked version first. This – confusion alert - is the Platinum-winning ‘standard’ Chateau Bourdieu 2019 (actually the Chateau’s main wine). At the price, the DWWA panel could not have been much more emphatic about its qualities and characteristics:

“Flamboyant and deep, with ample, lush and fresh forest fruits, bramble and cassis, with cascading sweet spice swiftly following. A super, brooding wine which will shine brighter with time”.

(On the matter of drinking windows/when to drink, we’ll be back in a moment).

Chateau Bourdieu

Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux, 2019

£12.95

For those who seek a little more complexity, and all the vanilla-y goodness of oak, you seek the oaked version, which goes by the name of Chateau Bourdieu No. 1 2019. Again, DWWA held back very little in their praise:

“Pristine definition of pure and driving damson, cherry and plum, with understated vanilla oak. Deep and long, the palate reveals a cascade of fleshy black fruits over ripe, fine-grained tannins and fruit-bonded acidity. Lovely stuff”.

Chateau Bourdieu No 1

Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux, 2019 

£13.45

There are two matters to conclude with:

Drinking windows: the two wines are made for immediacy and approachability. That’s the Merlot talking. They do not need – and neither are they intended for – long ageing. After some correspondence with the Schweizers, their view (and I support this) is that the optimum drinking windows for the wines are:

Chateau Bourdieu (unoaked) – now until end 2024.

Chateau Bourdieu No. 1 (oaked) – now until end 2027.

Which makes pretty good sense, with the combination of slight pre-oxidation and wood tannins in the No. 1 affording that bit more lengevity.

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Arrival: the two wines are on their way in again. We expect them here in the first few days of March.

<as approved by the Exel office cat>

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