Drinking Well: Episode One – Bordeaux
Join us as we delve into Bordeaux – our most-collected fine wine region. In this episode, you’ll hear from Buyer Max Lalondrelle and Account Manager Henrietta Gullifer as they share their tips and advice on which vintages to open, producers to look out for and more.
To listen via Spotify or Apple Music, follow the links below. Alternatively, search “Drinking Well with Berry Bros. & Rudd” in your preferred podcast platform.
About Max Lalondrelle
Max is a leading authority on Bordeaux. He joined Berry Bros. & Rudd in 2000; today, he runs the Buying team, looking after the purchase of wines from around the world. A native Frenchman, he has a deep knowledge of Bordeaux’s wines and producers.
About Henrietta Gullifer
As one of our experienced Account Managers, Henrietta works with customers to build and shape their wine collections. She joined Berry Bros. & Rudd in 2016, initially working in events, tasting and learning about wines from across the fine wine world. Henrietta has a particular love of Bordeaux, Champagne and collectable spirits.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE EPISODE
Discover Max and Henrietta's wine recommendations, vintage notes and top tips.
Which bottle sparked your passion for Bordeaux?
Max It was a 1987 bottle of Ch. Haut-Brion. My uncle poured it; I was 17 and it was one of the most extraordinary things I’d ever tasted. It was intellectual; something you start to think about. It made me realise there is something more than a simple beverage; there is a story here.
Henrietta I was helping at a Long Room dinner. Before every event, we check the wines to see if they are corked; I opened a bottle of 2000 Ch. Conseillante. I’d never tasted anything like it.
Which Bordeaux vintages should I drink in 2022?
Max At the lower end, the 2008 and 2011 vintages are drinking very well. At home, I’m drinking my 2008 Ch. Chasse-Spleen, which at the time I paid around £13 or £14 a bottle for; it’s fantastic. For the big boys, you should look to 2005 – and anything older than that. At the top end the 2005s are showing extremely well.
I had a special birthday for my wife recently; we had a few bottles of 1996 Ch. Palmer – which was absolutely delicious, and I was lucky enough to have bought that at the right time. The 1996s are drinking extremely well, especially for the First and Second Growths. It’s one of those vintages that’s classic and any 1996s at that level are fantastic – very reminiscent of the 2016 vintage.
Henrietta I’m seeing a lot of people starting to bring out their 2009s, particularly from middle- or lower-rated châteaux. For some, you can go a bit later – the 2011s and 2012s – there are just certain producers that are more approachable in a younger age. At the very top level, we’re also seeing people pull out their 2000s and 2005s.
Recently, I’ve tried the 2007 Ch. Haut-Bailly and 2004 Clos de Marquis, which were really delicious. They’re not from lauded vintages, but are drinking very well at the moment. The last really special bottle – 1996 Ch. Léoville Las Cases – it had that really nice balance: a hint of pure fruit, and that lovely, savoury edge that you get in mature Bordeaux.
You can hear more from Henrietta what to drink in 2022 here.
Which Bordeaux back vintages should I add to my collection?
Max Of the great vintages, 2016 is probably – in my lifetime – the best vintage ever made. Bordeaux has the great vintages, and it has the rest. There are some that are wines for collecting and some that are more for drinking and it gives consumers the chance to play in both camps.
I think its interesting to have things that are stylistically different. I am a big fan of lighter vintages, such as the 2014s and the 2011s, 2017s and – probably –2021 which is upcoming. These are my go-to vintages that I like drinking at home. Affordable and well made.
And then you want to have the big ones too: 2010, 2009, 2005, 2000 – or 2016: these are the big vintages which will last for 30 or 40 years.
You can add back-vintages to your collection with BBX, our fine wine exchange. Find out more here.
Looking ahead, what about Bordeaux 2021 En Primeur?
Max How are producers feeling about the 2021? “Relieved” is probably the most interesting word to use. Across France, last year was a tough year – the weather pattern was very similar to the UK; we had poor, grey rainy weather. It started in the spring in Bordeaux with a lot of frost. It was probably one of the worst frost events since the 1960s. Those who were not well protected by being in the right place or by having the technology have been massively hit.
And the season had rain at the beginning of flowering which means that there were lower levels of production. Then the summer wasn’t very hot but towards the end of the summer, they had more luck. From the end of August, things got a bit better; they finished on a high. Overall, it’s been tough across the whole of France.
The beauty of Bordeaux compared to Burgundy is that they have very big vineyards; they can more easily use what they need to make the perfect wines and leave the rest – the level of production by the bottle will be affected but the quality of the wine is still going to be fairly strong.