Sunday, July 11, 2010

How About Bordeaux Futures?

There is widespread agreement among wine critics that 2009 is an excellent vintage for red Bordeaux wines. So even though the wines are not yet in the bottle, trade in these wines is taking place through the futures market. I have bought Bordeaux on futures for similar vintages in the past--1982, 1986 and 1990--always ending up with good wine at an incredibly low price. For example, I bought a case of the 1986 Cos d'Estournel for $345--less than $30 a bottle for a wine that sold for about $50 when it reached the store shelves. If you want the 2009 Cos, the futures price is $4,200/case. The swing could go the other way, of course, particularly if the Euro crashes against the U.S. dollar, but futures purchases are usually a good idea in excellent vintages, as long as you avoid the highest-priced, most highly hyped offerings.

I'm not buying any 2009 wines on futures myself (mainly because of my age), but if I were, these are the wines I would go for:
1. Tour St. Bonnet at $139/case (see note below) would be my top choice. I have found wines from this estate consistently good over several decades--as fine as wines selling for two to three times as much. And they age fantastically. Parker calls Tour St. Bonnet a "sleeper of the vintage" with "the finest potential of all the offerings I have ever tasted from this estate."

2. Fourcas Hosten at $199/case. I have bought and enjoyed Fourcas Hosten wines from the 1975, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985 and 1990 vintages. And again, they are always at least as good as wines costing two or three times as much. Jancis Robinsons says: "Seems like the sort of wine that should be a pleasure to drink all its life. The best Fourcas Hosten I can remember tasting."

3. Pitray at $119/case is an incredible bargain. I bought Pitray by the case in 1982, 1983, 1985 and 1986 and never regretted it. Parker says this is the best Pitray he's tasted, and I take his word for it. Pitray will drink best about 2012 to 2015; it's not a long ager like Tour St. Bonnet and Fourcas Hosten but very enjoyable.

4. Chateau Caronne Ste. Gemme, $179/case. My experience with this wine is not as extensive as with the above wines, but every Caronne Ste. Gemme I've had has been very good. This wine is highly regarded by British wine experts and often overlooked by Americans.

5. Pontoise Cabarrus, $179/case, is another reliably good value that I have purchased and enjoyed in 1979, 1981 and 1983. It's recommended by Decanter as a "fleshy, firm wine." Can be enjoyed young but will keep for many years.

6. Poujeaux at $399/case is more expensive than the rest but still an incredible bargain. According to one story, Baron Rothschild, when given a glass of the 1953 Poujeax at a state dinner, insisted that he was tasting his own wine, Chateau Lafite...until he was shown the label. I bought Poujeaux in 1982 and 1985 and have been equally impressed. Why buy Lafite when you can get Poujeaux for a fraction of the price? The Wine Spectator says the 2009 may be the best Poujeaux since 1929. I'm dubious because I've tasted the superb 1982. (The futures price for the 2009 Lafite, by the way, is $18,349/case.)

That's by no means an exhaustive list, just a few of the wines that would tweak my attention if I were certain I would still be alive and enjoying wine (at age 101!) in 2040. The prices (and the compilation of notes) are all from Village Corner in Ann Arbor, MI. Pitray at less than $10 a bottle?? I'm truly tempted.

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