These days, many people see the wines of Bordeaux as the vinous equivalent of Manhattan apartments: as something obtainable only by the superrich. Over the last decade or so, prices for many Bordeaux wines have soared; a bottle of, say, Chateau Latour can now easily set you back $1000. Many oenophiles have written off Bordeaux entirely. That’s unfortunate, because there are plenty of good, affordable Bordeauxs still around, wines that can offer a lot of pleasure for not a lot of money. Even better, some of these wines have some age on them.
For instance, there’s no shortage of the 2005 Chateau Lanessan ($30) on retail shelves even though it is an almost nine-year-old wine. Lanessan has long been a terrific value wine, and 2005 was a sensational vintage in Bordeaux – probably one of the best the region has ever had, with an almost Platonic balance of ripe, crisp fruit, acidity, and tannins. So this is what’s known in wine circles as a no-brainer – a chance to drink a really good wine from a really great year, and also to see what a Bordeaux with some age on it tastes like.
First, though, notice the color: at nearly nine years old, the wine has shed its deep ruby glow and is taking on a brick-like hue, which is what happens with red wines as they age. On the nose, the Lanessan, a classic Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, and petit verdot, shows a leathery note – another sign of maturity – plus red currants, a tar-like aroma, and an enticing whiff of flowers.
The wine is medium-bodied and supple, with a Bordeaux elegance about it and a long, graceful finish. It is a very pleasant Bordeaux, and given its age, the Lanessan is a relative steal, too. There may not be any more bargains in Manhattan real estate, but there are still a few left in Bordeaux.