Last week the Union des Grands Crus—an association of top Bordeaux producers—held its annual wine fest in a New York ballroom. As nearly 100 properties showcased the 2006 vintage, a couple of thing struck me about the wines I was tasting. Firstly that while this is far from a great vintage, it is a very fair one, and the other was that more and more properties are making modern, international style wines designed for early drinking.
As John Laird, of the importers Diageo (DEO) Château & Estate wines, remarked to me: "2006 was originally lost in the swirl of enthusiasm surrounding the historic 2005 vintage. But now that the wines are arriving in markets around the world, their accessible quality is very apparent. Excellent colors, charming and very obvious fragrances, and mouth-filling and amazingly appealing flavors—already!"
This is not necessarily the good thing it might at first appear. In the process of making these wines so accessible the producers risk loosing something too—namely the traditional, classic Bordeaux that is angular and difficult in its youth but that can age for decades before eventually achieving that astounding depth and complexity that is great claret.
This is a big issue for Bordeaux but one that very few producers are prepared to acknowledge, yet alone to talk about. However, as a point of illustration, this week's Wine of the Week is a fine example of the modern, user-friendly, easy-drinking style, Château Cantemerle 2006 ($28), while next week's will be an altogether different, more traditional Bordeaux.
Cantemerle is an old favorite of mine because it always delivers a delectable, round, velvety, beautifully made wine just packed with ripe fruit beautifully balanced by soft tannins and just the right degree of acidity for real structure. Not of the first order, but terrific value for highly pleasurable current drinking.
When to Drink: Now, and for the next few years.
Breathing/Decanting: Half an hour breathing will help it open up nicely
Food Pairing: Roast meats, game, liver.
Grapes: 58% cabernet sauvignon, 33% merlot, 6% petit verdot, 3% cabernet franc.
Web Site: www.cantemerle.com/default2007.htm
See more wines at www.nickonwine.com
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 Forbes.com, in addition to which his work has appeared in such publications as Forbes, Discover, Town & Country, the Robb Report, the Wine Enthusiast, Saveur, Sky, and Golf Connoisseur. He is currently Artisanal Editor for Four Seasons magazine and contributes the Nick Passmore: Wine of the Week column to BusinessWeek.com. He is also a judge at the widely respected annual Critics' Challenge wine competition.