Despite an unbelievable amount of hype around the en primeur campaign each year, Bordeaux is largely irrelevant to many restaurateurs. The problem is that while Bordeaux, the region, remains the largest fine wine region in the world and Bordeaux the wine is pretty hard to beat for sheer quality at the top end, there is a lot of mediocre lesser Bordeaux around. High end Bordeaux is rarely bought for cellaring by restaurants these days, so wine for listing and presumably drinking tends to be purchased from merchants, often on the basis of reputation and critics’ scores rather than taste. So an invitation to taste fifty of the best wines from the iconic 2000 vintage was not too difficult to accept.
The wines were arrayed by commune with “First Growth & Equivalents” left until last, as a lure. Not that there were many duds to work through in the line-up at Bordeaux Index’s glamorous Hatton Garden HQ. With prices ranging from £280–33000 per case in bond, there was – almost – a wine for everyone. What struck me was that while the big boys were unsurprisingly expensive, there were any number of instances where price did not seem to have any obvious correlation to quality. Take the sexy, exotic, almost-Burgundian Le Pin. While I would be delighted to drink it I can’t see, at £30,000 that it is worth 30 times its stable mate Vieux Chateau Certan.
Clearly this has everything to do with scarcity and the aforementioned critics and reputations but the smart restaurant buyer can pick up some excellent wines at reasonable prices. While the majority of the 2000s ideally need another ten years at least, these days there are plenty of drinkers who will drink youngish wines quite happily. Leoville-Poyferré, for example was a steal at £800 and approachable too.