That Bordeaux makes the very best red wines in the world is certainly a cliché, many would probably also say a truism. But while the connoisseurs wax lyrical over bottles that can cost as much as the average monthly salary, what about those of us who buy most, or even all, of our wine at the supermarket?
Good value claret* for the price-conscious buyer is so rare as to almost be a paradox. If you’re prepared to accept a generalisation, claret tends to be left looking like a weird, uninvited guest in the sub-£10 market. In fact, I’m not even sure that it’s much more at home in the sub-£20 a bottle market. I recall sampling two red Bordeaux wines at the top end of that bracket and being left thinking, “well, I might buy them if I see them on sale at a fiver!” No wine should leave you feeling it’s only just worth a quarter of what it costs. Shameful.
So what hope for this example, priced at a sober £7.99? And given the little tale I’ve just recounted, why even bother?
It started with a bit of blind faith that Bordeaux must be able to do better, without the ‘fine wine’ price tag. I dared to hope that I’d been rewarded for my faith when I spotted that Chateau Laubès had won a silver medal at the IWSC. Despite harbouring concerns that this could be a fluke, an anomoly, I thought it was worth a punt.
First impressions, particularly those of my nose, suggested I was in for a disappointment. Apart from a little, slightly sweet and woody oak, I wasn’t really picking up on any noteable character. Two or three sips later and my opinion slowly began to evolve. Not because of any exciting flavours, but because of a charming, silky and seductive texture.
No really, I mean it. I’m not just getting poetic (at least not deliberately anyway). If this wine were a shape, it would be a perfect sphere. Absolutely no rough edges anywhere. Not even a mould line.
There was more to come, but sadly, not until I’d nearly finished the glass. This is one of those wines that needs plenty of time and air to ‘open up’. But once it does, there’s some delightfully ripe, yet mellow, plummy fruit to enjoy.
Can Bordeaux do good red at £8? In general, still not so sure about that. But Chateau Laubès can.
*This is an umbrella term for Bordeaux red, but the term is not used in France