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Wine of the Week

A Bargain Bordeaux From Sotheby's

I discovered the latest Wine of the Week, the Château Maucamps Haut Medoc 2003 ($23), while being shown around Sotheby's (BID) elegant new retail wine shop on the ground floor of its New York digs by Jamie Ritchie, head of North American wine sales for the auction house.

Yes, in addition to selling old masters and old premium wines at auction, Sotheby's has a new retail shop. A swank place it is, too. While the store certainly has its share of star names, the primary focus has been to assemble an intriguing selection of wines from generally small, artisanal producers.

As Ritchie explained to me: "I don't think we're ever going to be a wine warehouse. We're looking for producers who are true to the terroir, true to the site—who make wines that have an elegance, a lightness of touch, a finesse, but the value-for-money equation is always part of a wine purchase."

As he spoke, he pulled from the rack a bottle of the Maucamps for us to drink over lunch. It turned out to be exactly the kind of wine he was talking about.

2003 is generally regarded as a modest vintage in Bordeaux. Ritchie believes it was better than that in the northern Medoc—and if this wine is anything to go by, he is absolutely right. It's a classic claret with ripe, finely concentrated dark fruit and a deep earthy finish weighty with blackberries, coffee, dark chocolate, and minerality.

The wine is exclusive to Sotheby's, so those of you who live in New York State can order directly from them— Unfortunately, everyone else will need to employ more elaborate strategies to savor this modestly priced gem.

When to Drink: Now

Breathing/Decanting: Half an hour really helps.

Food Pairing: Richer meat dishes, especially roasts.

Grapes: 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 35 percent Merlot, 5 percent Petit Verdot

Appellation: Haut Medoc

Region: Bordeaux

Country: France

Price: $23

Availability: Limited

Web Site:

Nick Passmore is an independent wine writer and consultant based in New York. For five years he contributed a widely read monthly wine column to, in addition to which his work has appeared in such publications as Forbes, Discover, Town & Country, the Robb Report, Wine Enthusiast, Saveur, Sky, and Golf Connoisseur. He is currently artisanal editor for Four Seasons magazine and contributes a twice monthly column to He is also a judge at the annual Critics’ Challenge wine competition.

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