Unearthing the hidden gems, Bordeaux 2012

Before we begin digging into Bordeaux’s gravel, sand and clay to dig up some of her hidden gems, let’s first all agree on what qualifies as a gem and what makes it hidden.

Bordeaux is the largest high quality A.O.P. in France and the benchmark region for quality wine production in the world. With that comes classification of all her parts, as far back as the famous Classification of 1855 but even earlier. So the hierarchy is in place and rarely are any hidden gems found at the top. Sure, these are great wines, but not hidden, and often not priced smartly enough to be considered attainable gems. These wines are widely-written about and carry a price, especially in high priced vintages like 2012, where the dollar was not particularly strong as it was for the 2014 vintage. Luckily there are maybe 80-90 classified estates between the Médoc, Graves, Sauternes and St. Émilion, and thousands left unclassified. That’s where we should be looking!

I don’t believe that for a wine to qualify as a hidden gem it needs to have a 90+ rating or that it needs to retail under a certain price; it just needs to over-deliver. A nice $21 wine that drinks like a $40 bottle, or a $18 bottle with a 90 point score… now that merits your attention! I’m not much of a rating guy, but most of the people I sell Bordeaux to are very in tune to the ratings.

Since Bordeaux is such a large area, cut in half by the mighty Gironde, then divided again by the Garonne and Dordogne, vintage charts are of little use, too broad a brush stroke to rely on. Then we must consider the grapes themselves.; Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot on the Médoc, Merlot and Cabernet Franc on the right bank, and Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc in the Graves and Sauternes. Vintage chart? Not likely!

That being said, a search for hidden gems would begin in one of two places: the unclassified wines from more famous communes (St. Estèphe, Pauillac, St. Julien, Margaux, Haut-Médoc, Pessac-Léognan and Sauternes on the left bank or St. Émilion and Pomerol on the right bank) and the wines from satellite appellations. These include Médoc, Graves, Barsac, Fronsac, Bourg and  Blaye, and the Bordeaux Côtes (Castillon, Francs and Premier Côtes) as well as Bordeaux Superieur. It is in these areas where you often fine quality above the expected, sleepers in the vintage, hidden gems!

So, how about a few recommendations!

Pauillac

Chateau Pedesclaux 2012, Pauillac $45

Wine Advocate 89-92

St. Julien

Chateau Hortevie 2012, St. Julien $28

Wine Advocate 85-87

Haut-Médoc

Chateau Belle-Vue 2012, Haut-Médoc (coming soon)

Wine Advocate 86-88

Pessac-Leognan

Clos Marsalette rouge 2012, Pessac-Léognan (coming soon)

Wine Advocate 90-92

Chateau Haut-Bergey rouge 2012, Pessac-Léognan (coming soon)

Wine Advocate 90-93

Dry Bordeaux Blanc

Clos de Lunes d’Argent Blanc 2012, Bordeaux Blanc $20

Wine Advocate 88-90

St. Émilion

Chateau Fonbel 2012, St. Émilion $22

Wine Advocate 87-89

Satellites

Chateau Bolaire 2012, Bordeaux Superieur   (coming soon)

Wine Advocate 88-90

Chateau la Consellier 2012, Bordeaux Superieur $19

Wine Advocate 88-90

Chateau Croix-Mouton 2012, Bordeaux Superieur $17

Wine Advocate 87-89

Mauvais Garcon 2012, Bordeaux    (coming soon)

Wine Spectator 88-91

Chateau La Prade 2012, Côtes de Francs   (coming soon)

Wine Spectator 87-90

Chateau Puygueraud 2012, Cotes de Francs (coming soon)

Wine Spectator 86-89

*Coming soon – the remainder of the 2012 vintage is arriving now and over the next few months, retail prices available once the wines are in-store!

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