By Robert Parker
Futures season, the opportunity to buy wine that is still in barrels and won't be released for a couple of years, is just getting under way for the 2006 Bordeaux vintage. People often buy futures from wine merchants to avoid paying higher prices later, but I wouldn't load up on 2006 futures, as the vintage is good but not great. Prices could be lower by the time the wine is released.
Still, some might want to lock up a case or two if 2006 marks some special occasion, such as a big anniversary or the birth of a child. Here are some wines that are good values if you can buy their futures for less than $45 a bottle. Since these ratings are for wines still in the barrel, I use a range instead of a specific score.
92-94 points.A deep ruby/purple hue precedes a perfumed nose of sweet boysenberries, black cherries, minerals, spring flowers, and a hint of pain grillé. Fresh, savory, medium- to full-bodied flavors coat the palate with beautiful purity, ripe tannin, and intense fruit. From the St.-Julien appellation, this offering will be at its peak between 2012 and 2025.
92-94 points.This Margaux possesses sweet cherry and cassis notes intermixed with spring flowers, underbrush, and licorice. Medium-bodied and beautifully concentrated with soft acids as well as sweet tannin, the overall impression is one of opulence. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2025.
91-94 points.This Pessac-Léognan boasts a dark ruby color along with a bouquet of charcoal embers with sweet black cherry and black currant fruit. It has subtle oak, medium body, and a gorgeous texture. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2030.
91-93 points.This blend of 70% cabernet sauvignon and 30% merlot exhibits notes of crème de cassis, pain grillé, and black cherries and undertones of loamy earth, herbs, and spice. Copious richness and up-front fruit along with good freshness and liveliness suggest this Pauillac will be at its best between 2012 and 2025.
91-93 points.The 2006 is a blend of 75% merlot, 15% cabernet franc, and 10% cabernet sauvignon. Its deep ruby/purple color is followed by a flowery nose offering notes of black fruits, crushed rocks, and spicy oak. Medium- to full-bodied, elegant, pure, and precise, this stunner from St.-Emilion falls just short of rivaling the fabulous 2005. It should drink well for 10 to 15 years.
91-93 points.A blend of 70% merlot, 20% cabernet franc, and 10% cabernet sauvignon, the 2006 is an elegant effort with hints of blueberries, raspberries, cherries, pain grillé, espresso, and smoke. Sweet tannin, medium- to full-bodied deep flavors, and superb purity are found in this overachieving St.-Emilion. It should drink well for 15 or more years.
91-93 points.The beautiful 2006 exhibits aromas and flavors of earth, graphite, sweet cassis, cherries, smoke, and spice. Medium-bodied with admirable concentration, soft tannin, and impressive purity, texture, and length, this Pessac-Léognan wine should mature between 2012 and 2025.
90-93 points.A sleeper of the vintage, the Clos de L'Oratoire reveals notes of smoked meats, blueberries, raspberries, cedar, and spicy oak. Opulent, fleshy, and rich, this well proportioned St.-Emilion is ideal during its first 12 to 15 years.
Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.
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.