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Of all the Bordeaux vintages since the exceptional millennium year, 2001 offers the best bargains today. That's especially true of the 2001 St.-Emilions, made from two grapes, merlot and cabernet franc, that ripened better than cabernet sauvignon that year. The most prestigious St.-Emilions are never cheap, but the following wines represent the best values given their high quality. Many of them are close to their 2000 counterparts yet sell for a fraction of the price and can be enjoyed much sooner.
90 points. This medium-bodied wine possesses an inky/ruby/purple color as well as superb aromas of creosote, blackberries, currants, and licorice. It displays striking purity and loads of flavor and texture. As it sits in the glass, additional notes of melted licorice and smoky cassis become apparent. You can drink this beauty now or enjoy it anytime over the next decade. $28
Les Grandes Murailles
93 points. This small vineyard, under the same Reiffers family ownership as Clos St.-Martin and C?te de Baleau, has produced great wines over a number of vintages, particularly 1998 and 2000. Its fabulous 2001 is a dense purple color with glorious scents of blueberries, blackberries, crushed stones, and toasty oak. Medium- to full-bodied, it will be at its peak from 2007 to 2017. $45
93+ points. An impressive debut vintage made from 40% merlot, 40% cabernet franc, and 20% cabernet sauvignon, it has a dense purple color and aromas of chocolate, espresso roast, blackberry and cherry liqueur, and new oak. This full-bodied, surprisingly powerful 2001 is somewhat atypical of the vintage but is gorgeously textured and admirably pure. There is plenty of tannin in the finish, so two to three years of cellaring is suggested. $55
93 points. Not far off the pace of the spectacular 2000, the 2001 exudes a gorgeous perfume of plum jam, cr?me de cassis, flowers, licorice, black fruits, a hint of graphite, and well-integrated wood notes. This medium- to full-bodied St.-Emilion has superb texture, great flavor purity, and tremendous harmony. Remarkably approachable despite its impressive concentration and well-concealed tannin, this beauty is a candidate for "wine of the vintage." Anticipated maturity: now through 2017. $60
92 points. One of the finest products I have tasted from this winery, the ruby/purple 2001 merlot/cabernet franc blend offers up aromas of black truffles, black currants, licorice, and toasty oak. Its full-bodied, chewy personality reveals abundant fruit and extract. Heady and opulent, with low acidity, it should be consumed over the next 8 to 10 years. $65
91 points. The 2001, a blend of 60% merlot, 30% cabernet franc, and 10% cabernet sauvignon, is a flamboyant offering with a dense ruby/purple color as well as a big, sweet nose of licorice, dried herbs, smoke, black currants, and blackberries. Beautifully textured and medium- to full-bodied, this is a succulent, seductive claret to drink over the next 10 to 12 years. $65
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Robert Parker is the world's most influential wine critic. Visit www.eRobertParker.com to see tens of thousands of tasting notes, buy his books, or subscribe to his newsletter, The Wine Advocate.
Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.
By Robert Parker