Red Bordeaux – There is so much to discover
by JJ Buckley
Next year will see JJ Buckley celebrate its tenth anniversary, a chance for us to look forward to our next decade and look back at some of the foundations for our success. Among those reasons is the passionate embrace of Bordeaux wines by our clients. At a time when statistics indicate a slight dip in the previous year of the amount of Bordeaux wine exported to the United States, our customers have snapped up Bordeaux in ever increasing amounts. We would like to think it’s about our great prices and excellent service but it’s probably a bit more than that. Each year, wine writers frequently focus on the price and quality of the top grand cru classé châteaux that dot the Médoc as well as the merlot dominant appellations of the Right Bank.Yet the Bordeaux region is actually made up of thousands of small, family owned estates that weave a varied fabric of compelling wine styles. These wines are accessible yet multi-dimensional and, affordable. And more importantly, these wines have never been better. How has this happened?
The admittedly high prices that the top châteaux have been able to attain over the years have allowed the estates to reinvest in their effort to improve their final product. And the most successful techniques have filtered down to wineries throughout the region. What are now common practices in the vineyard, like green harvesting or leaf plucking, or decisions made in the cellar such as grape selection and the creation of second wines to improve the quality of the grand vin, were all techniques first developed by the grand cru classé estates many years ago. It’s exciting to think of the improvementsthat lie ahead.
The constant improvement in the quality of Bordeaux's wines at all price ranges has come from a never ending quest to improve winemaking and viticultural practices. While tradition plays an important role in Bordeaux, vignerons are constantly experimenting with the latest technological and methodological developments in the wine world. Whether it's new types of fermentation vats in the cellar or the use of drones to locate plots of land prone to water stress, these efforts to improve quality may be unheralded and take place behind the scenes but they are a constant reminder that Bordeaux's wineries are always in motion in the pursuit to make better wines.
If anything, Bordeaux is about its people and their stories. At a time when some wines are more akin to mass-produced marketing efforts, many of Bordeaux’s wineries possess a historical lineage that has shaped the wines they have made over the years. Learning which grapes work well in particular portions of their vineyards can take generations to understand. Respecting the work and legacy of those who came before you while adapting to new technologies and commercial demands is another challenge faced by Bordeaux producers today. Bordeaux’s rich historical tradition is a huge strength as the region faces thedemands of the global wine market in the 21st century. Bordeaux and those who love their wines can rest assured knowing that the industry’s ability to face so many challenges in the past leaves them well equipped going forward.
Whether it's the latest releases from estates in the Médoc, the Côtes de Bordeaux, the satellite appellations of the Right Bank or second wines made by many of the grand cru classé châteaux, this holiday season is a great time to explore the diversity of red wines made in Bordeaux. Join us as we highlight the great values to be found amongst the red wines of Bordeaux!