Online Extra: More of Parker's Picks

Wine from Bordeaux has become increasingly expensive over the past decade as more and more people drink, and collect, the best vintages from the best chateaux. One way around that is to buy wine futures. That means you can buy the 2006 vintages before they are even bottled. The upside is that you can obtain the wine before everyone else for less money than you would pay once the wine hits the stores. The downside is that the vintage may not only turn out to be a weak one, thus affecting the price from an investment point of view, but it will also be some time before your drink the wine (if you ever drink it). However, if you can afford to wait—and have the appropriate space to store the wine—wine futures are great way to create a cellar for less.

Chateau Quinault l'Enclos Rating: 92-95 Price: $38.00-$49.00

Proprietor Alain Raynaud has produced a beautifully elegant, noble, racy 2005 Quinault l'Enclos that ranks alongside his 1998, 2000, and 2001. A blend of 77% merlot, 17% cabernet franc, and 6% cabernet sauvignon (the average age of the vines is 50 years), it was cropped at 32 hectoliters per hectare, and receives the Burgundian treatment of malolactic in barrel, aging on its lees for 6 to 10 months, with no filtering at bottling. The inky/blue/purple-tinged 2005 reveals a pure nose of charcoal, spring flowers, sweet raspberries, black cherries, and cassis. The wine is gorgeously textured, medium-bodied, and elegant, yet intensely flavored with a power and texture that build on the palate. The tannin is sweet, but noticeable, and the finish is long. Anticipated maturity: 2010 to 2030.

Chateau Sanctus Rating: 92-95 Price: $38.00-$48.00

Sanctus is the luxury cuvée of Chateau La Bienfaisance, and the 2005 is unquestionably their finest effort to date. A 90% merlot/10% cabernet franc blend fashioned from yields of 30 hectoliters per hectare, this blockbuster boasts an inky/purple color with scents of graphite, blueberries, blackberries, cassis, and espresso roast. Dense, rich, and pure, with high but sweet tannin, amazing levels of glycerin, and a 40+ second finish, it should drink well young yet age effortlessly for 15 to 18 years.

Chateau Joanin Bécot Rating: 92-94 Price: $24.00-$30.00

Joanin Béecot's amazing 2005, a sleeper of the vintage, should be priced realistically. This stunning blend of 75% merlot and 25% cabernet franc (32-year-old vines) achieved 14.5% natural alcohol. A saturated purple color offers up scents of graphite, blueberries, blackberries, smoke, and charcoal. Dense, opulent, and full-bodied, with stunning concentration, sweet but noticeable tannin, and terrific purity as well as nuances, this is unquestionably one of the finest wines I have ever tasted from the Côtes de Castillon. Drink it over the next 10 to 15 years.

Chateau Destieux Rating: 92-94 Price: $35.00-$44.00

After Destieux's brilliant 2003, I thought proprietor Christian Dauriac may have hit the highest peak possible at this old vineyard (average age: 45 years). However, the blockbuster 2005 may well eclipse the 2003. Consultant Michel Rolland's final blend consists of 66% merlot, and equal parts cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon. A flamboyant, muscular, seriously concentrated wine of great intensity, it possesses a dense black/purple color as well as a gorgeous nose of smoke, truffles, blackberries, earth, new saddle leather, and grilled meat juices. The wine is amazingly dense, rich, and powerful, yet also elegant and fresh. The 14.5% alcohol is the highest this estate has achieved. Blame the 2005 drought for that characteristic. Anticipated maturity: 2011 to 2025+.

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