Maritime Bordeaux in the west of France is a large producer of quality wines. Although saying that there's a large gap between the top few who produce ultra-premium wines with hefty price tags (Lafite, Margaux, Y'Quem, Petrus….) and the rest of the field.
The Left Bank with its gravelly composition of soils is more suited to Cabernet Sauvignon while the Right Bank is made up more of clay and this is where Merlot and Cabernet Franc dominate (as they are earlier ripens and don't mind getting their feet wet). In the middle, the Entre Du Meurs provides a slew of whites and reds made for early drinking.
On the right bank outside of St Emilion and Pomerol, there are a lot of well-priced merlots made that are more for early consumption. These come from the satellite Bordeaux regions.
The English built up a thirst for the better Bordeaux reds which they have coined 'clarets'. These are often tucked away for a while in their cellars to age and drunk with a few years under their belts. But not all Bordeaux is built for aging, so choose wisely.
For whites, there are the crisp and easily quaffed whites from Entre De Meurs, or the more ambitious oak-aged Semillion Sauvignon blends from Pessac Legonan. The queen of dessert wines, Sauternes can also call Bordeaux home. French oak maturation is a common thread amongst the elite reds, whites and sweet wines.
White:Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle
Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot
Some of the most highly rated recent vintages are 2005, 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2018.
Montrose, Pichon Lalande, Poitevin, D'Yquem, Coutet,
There's plenty to take in round here, from the winding roads of the Amalfi coast, to the glamour of Capri and a day trip to explore remnants of the ancient civilisation at Pompeii. And whilst the Romans might think they've got pizza bragging rights, the province of Campania is home to mighty Naples. World famous for San Marzano tomatoes and also the epicentre of silky buffalo mozzarella, there really is no competition. The secret to the sauce? The sunny Mediterranean climate and the special volcanic soils of Vesuvius.
Red or white?
Local grape varieties of both colours are believed to have evolved from ancient Greek origins, so they know how to thrive in the heat of the Med. For inky wild reds with structure, tannin and depth there's Aglianico (al-ee-yah-niko). Whites are dominated by textural, nutty and fleshy Fiano from the little town of Avellino.
Aglianico is known as the Nebbiolo of the south, for its capacity to keep acid and tannin in these warmer parts. The best come from Taurasi and full bodied, savoury wines capable of ageing and evolving with some years in bottle. The most successful white is Fiano. Its honeyed florals and waxy style make it a great friend of the aforementioned buffalo mozzarella, as well as firm fish and salads. Special mention too to Greco, for its crisp whites with green apple, flint and citrus notes.
Aglianico, Fiano, Greco di Tufo, Falanghina
Quintodecimo, Mastroberardino, Feudi di San Gregorio, Pietracupa, Antonio Caggiano, De Conciliis, Petilia, Montevetrano
Chateau Montlandrie 2016 1500ml
CASTILLON-CÔTES DE BORDEAUX
The 2016 Montlandrie is a blend of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon picked between 3-17 October. It was picked at 40 hectoliters per hectare and raised in 60% new oak (although my sample was from a one-year-old barrel). It is the first vintage to include more than 80% of the vines that were planted by Denis Durantou after 2008. This has a more broody bouquet than the two Lalande-de-Pomerols, just a touch of leafiness originating from the Cabernet Sauvignon that enhances the complexity. The palate is medium-bodied with fine structure, more saline than the Les Cruzelles, backward at the moment, but the Cabernets impart some lovely graphite notes on the saline finish. Superb. Expect this to land towards the top of my banded score once in bottle. (91-93) NEAL MARTIN
The 2016 Montlandrie is powerful and bold to its core. Layers of dense, dark fruit, chocolate, lavender spice and sweet oak saturate the palate. Dense and voluptuous, this racy wine from Denis Durantou is packed and ready to deliver maximum pleasure upon release. Tasted two times. (88-91) ANTONIO GALLONI2016Cabernet Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, MerlotFrance356Special Price $108.00 Regular Price $135.00
Sociando Mallet 2015 1500mlOne of the standouts of the vintage, the 2015 Sociando Mallet is all finesse. Light on its feet, gracious and super-expressive, the 2015 speaks to class above all else. The flavors are bright and beautifully lifted in this polished, sophisticated Haut-Médoc. Although a touch light, the 2015 is very pretty. The blend is 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. 90 ANTONIO GALLONI2015Cabernet MerlotFrance356Special Price $195.00 Regular Price $230.00
Haut Bages Liberal 2016 1500ml
PAUILLAC - 5th Growth
The 2016 Haut-Bages Libéral has turned out beautifully. Rose petals, lavender and sweet red cherry are some of the notes that grace this fine, translucent Pauillac. Medium in body and precise, with exquisite finesse and nuance, the 2016 is incredibly expressive today. This is a fabulous showing from proprietor Claire Villars Lurton. (95) ANTONIO GALLONI2016Cabernet MerlotFrance356Special Price $204.00 Regular Price $255.00
Montrose 2017 1500ml
Saint-Estèphe 2ème Cru Classé
4 MAGNUMS remain at time of offer
Extremely aromatic with currant, wild-herb and fresh-violet aromas. This is regal cabernet sauvignon at its finest. The palate has unwaveringly long and defined tannins that carry such fresh, piercingly pure, redcurrant and cassis flavors. A twin to the superb 2015? A blend of 76% cabernet sauvignon, 20% merlot, 3% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot.(97) JAMES SUCKLING
The 2017 Montrose is a very pretty, polished wine that speaks much more to finesse than power. Expressive floral and spices notes add an attractive inner sweetness to a Montrose that in 2017 leans more into the red fruit spectrum. Gracious yet deep, with terrific overall balance, the 2017 Montrose is a total winner. What impresses most about the 2017 is its freshness and sophistication. I won't be surprised if Montrose turns out to be even better than this note suggests further down the road. Graphite, licorice, menthol and sage lead to a finish with real grip and freshness. The 2017 is such a classy and promising wine. (95+) ANTONIO GALLONI
The 2017 Montrose was so impressive from barrel and now, bottled since July, it continues to put in a strong case for being one of the best Left Bank wines. It has a very pure and intoxicating bouquet with intense blackberry, light cassis, juniper and violet aromas, almost Margaux-like in terms of personality. Although there is a patina of new oak after bottling, it is in sync with the fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with gentle grip on the entry. Tightly wound at the moment but supremely well focused, this is a classic Montrose, "cool" and reserved, demonstrating impressive tension and precision towards the finish. It will require less time in bottle than the 2016 for example, so broach this superb Saint-Estèphe after five or six years and then it will give 25 to 30 years of drinking pleasure, and knowing Montrose, probably longer. Tasted twice with consistent notes. (95) NEAL MARTIN2017Cabernet MerlotFrance356Special Price $632.00 Regular Price $790.00