Question: how many times can something be called “underrated” before it’s no longer true? The term seems to be many a claret-loving connoisseur’s watchword for the Bordeaux region’s 2011 vintage, but scanning opinion on the web leads to a more balanced conclusion: some Chateaux succeeded and others didn’t. Describing something as “underrated” might give us that exciting feeling of sharing a secret and being just a little bit clever, but it’s time to put the term back on the shelf and carry on with the tasting.
What to taste though? The stars of Bordeaux wine make us forget that it’s one of the most productive regions in the world, and that not all of it is expensive. Or good. Finding tasty Claret at a down-to-earth price is a real challenge for a wine buyer, and they’re bound to feel a little smug when they succeed. It seems unlikely to happen if they’re poking around in the all-too-famous appellation of Saint Emilion (an ‘overrated’ appellation?), but they might just strike gold in one of its four ‘satellites’, such as Lussac.
Almost inevitably for a wine from the ‘right bank’ of the Bordeaux region, Merlot dominates the blend. It’s brought along its delicately spiced, succulent, red fruits. Pure, refined and satisfying. Cabernet Franc makes up 15% of the blend and has introduced its trademark leafy notes. Distinctive, and a complementary partner to the fruit rather than an opponent. The 4% Cabernet Sauvignon just about makes its presence known with a gentle boost to the acidity and a few extra tannins, which are firm but ripe and not at all abrasive.
It’s all sounding rather like classic Claret. And that’s what it is. It’s the sort of wine that will so often set you back tens of pounds, but available in this case for a much more sensible £8.99. I’d be surprised if Lidl’s stocks last long.