Fine Living | The Reconnoisseur

Great wines at terrific prices from a Bordeaux petit chateau

This Bordeaux vineyard is an undiscovered gem

Great wines at terrific prices from a Bordeaux petit chateau

June 14 2010
John Stimpfig

Oenophiles will no doubt be aware that Bordeaux’s 2009 vintage has been hailed as “historic” and another “annus mirabilis”. And having tasted the wines in March, I can agree that the Bordelais may not be too far wrong.

Of course, whether I will be willing or able to buy many of the fabulous wines that I covet from 2009 will be a different matter. This year, prices are expected to go through the roof. So the best labels will inevitably be “allocated” rather than sold. Consequently, buyers with much deeper pockets than mine will end up disappointed in the en primeur bunfight that is unfolding.

But there are plenty of petits chateaux which will provide terrific drinking and delicious value for money in 2009 precisely because they aren’t sufficiently lauded to enable them to mug punters like me for several thousand quid a case.

One such chateau is Clos Cantenac, which I discovered by accident in Bordeaux in March. My coup de coeur occurred over a dinner when I was offered the second wine of the Chateau’s 2007 – not the greatest of vintages. Then I tasted the Grand Vin, which left me gagging for more, particularly when I discovered that it’s selling for £288 a case, including tax. Apparently, the Cambridgeshire wine merchants Private Cellar has just three cases left – or make that two. The same goes for its toothsome 2009, which Private Cellar has released at £280 a case under bond (ie, excluding tax).

This St Emilion Grand Cru remains a tiny (about seven acres) and largely undiscovered Right Bank gem. It’s owned by Martin Krajewski, wine lover, art collector and bon viveur, who made a fortune in the recruitment business. Krajewski and fellow wine enthusiast Marcus Le Grice bought Clos Cantenac in 2007 and they have since ploughed money in to it – hence the rapid upward curve in quality.

So if you can’t beg, steal or borrow a case of 2009 Latour or Lafite, you could console yourself with a dozen bottles of Clos Cantenac which you can actually drink for pleasure rather than trade for profit. After all, I reckon a case of its 2009 will probably end up at almost the same price as a single glass of Lafite.

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Wines