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How does one start a foray into Bordeaux without first acquiring a ski mask, automatic weapons, and safe-cracking skills?

While there are certainly wine budgets that exceed my own (many on here in fact), I do spend a fair amount on wine and can’t seem to figure a way to taste enough Bordeaux to make intelligent purchasing decisions.

As background, I started like a lot of people who went to college in the bay area as a fan of Napa Cabs. I also spent some time in the NW and developed a taste for Oregon pinots. More recently, I started to learn more about and buy more French wine. Based on friends’ generosity and advice I started drinking and purchasing Rhone wines (north and south) and some new world Rhone blends (e.g. Ridge’s Syrah and Syrah/Grenache blends). All that said, I have recently tried and loved some Bordeaux and some Bordeaux style wines. Now, I would like to learn more about Bordeaux, what areas' wines I enjoy, what is worth buying, what is worth holding onto, etc…. My lone experience with a first growth was a revelatory bottle of 1990 Margaux. It was two years ago and I swear I can still smell it.

All that said, I have played around on Wine Bid and taken some shots at 2nd and 3rd growths from Margaux and Pauillac with a little age. They seemed well priced based on winesearcher and cellar tracker, but they are by no means cheap and I would love some suggestions as to obtaining or tasting wines that will give me a good roadmap to the region and allow me to learn best what I like so I can prioritize my purchases - until I learn to rob banks at least.

There may not be a correct answer, but if anyone has suggestions I am all ears.

Thanks-


Fruit on the bottom - hope on top.
 
Posts: 88 | Location: Alexandria, VA | Registered: Oct 07, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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i'd skip it

I acutally almost never buy bordeaux at all anymore except when i have an offline with someone at the boards.

not worth the price of admission in my opinion (to brag to your wino friends) and i can't be bother "hunting" for those "cheap but good" bordeauxs


This is my sig -> www.brownteacup.com
www.wsqwine.com
(Wine distributor)
 
Posts: 12125 | Location: NYC | Registered: Feb 16, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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but as a more helpful note,

i personally enjoy wines with a softer fruitier edge to them.

traditionally it meant a heavier merlot mixture in the blend.

so i personally stick with pomerols and st emilions.


This is my sig -> www.brownteacup.com
www.wsqwine.com
(Wine distributor)
 
Posts: 12125 | Location: NYC | Registered: Feb 16, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by g-man:
but as a more helpful note,

i personally enjoy wines with a softer fruitier edge to them.

traditionally it meant a heavier merlot mixture in the blend.

so i personally stick with pomerols and st emilions.


+1. Some good values from St. Emilion as well.
 
Posts: 5471 | Location: Aurora, IL | Registered: Jul 29, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks for the advice. I suppose it would have been too good to be true if you just knew a cheap website... sigh.


Fruit on the bottom - hope on top.
 
Posts: 88 | Location: Alexandria, VA | Registered: Oct 07, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by billhike:
quote:
Originally posted by g-man:
but as a more helpful note,

i personally enjoy wines with a softer fruitier edge to them.

traditionally it meant a heavier merlot mixture in the blend.

so i personally stick with pomerols and st emilions.


+2

+1. Some good values from St. Emilion as well.


"The hardest thing to attain ... is the appreciation of difference without insisting on superiority" George Saintsbury
 
Posts: 1595 | Location: DC Suburbs, Potomac MD. | Registered: Dec 12, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by MapleFan:
Thanks for the advice. I suppose it would have been too good to be true if you just knew a cheap website... sigh.


The absolutely best investment an internet wine shopper can have......

PH
 
Posts: 15133 | Location: Maryland, USA (DC suburbs) | Registered: Nov 22, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks. I use that and cellar tracker so I am pretty sure I am not over paying. I appreciate the responses though.


Fruit on the bottom - hope on top.
 
Posts: 88 | Location: Alexandria, VA | Registered: Oct 07, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by MapleFan:
Thanks. I use that and cellar tracker so I am pretty sure I am not over paying. I appreciate the responses though.


Have you been doing most of your purchases online or have you found any retailers in DC that have a good selection?
 
Posts: 47 | Registered: Sep 28, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If you are only talking about Bordeaux purchases, I buy primarily through the internet, but Calvert Woodley has what appears to be a great Bordeaux selection – along with a great selection generally. Pearsons and Schneider’s also seem to be pretty good spots.

Outside bottles of Bordeaux, I buy my wine through the internet, through a few wineries (e.g. Maples Vineyard, Ridge, and Torii Mor), and from local wine shops. In addition, I will always support Unwined in Alexandria near my house because the staff is tremendous. When my wife and I closed on our house a few blocks away, we got take-out to eat on the kitchen floor (the place was completely empty). We saw Unwined and decided to grab some Champagne. They wouldn’t allow us to use our paper cups Miles style and loaned us stems to use instead. We brought them back the following day and now pick up a bottle or two there fairly regularly.

I couldn’t resist this opportunity to sing their praises as I really believe in supporting good local businesses and excellent customer service.


Fruit on the bottom - hope on top.
 
Posts: 88 | Location: Alexandria, VA | Registered: Oct 07, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by MapleFan:
If you are only talking about Bordeaux purchases, I buy primarily through the internet, but Calvert Woodley has what appears to be a great Bordeaux selection – along with a great selection generally. Pearsons and Schneider’s also seem to be pretty good spots.

Outside bottles of Bordeaux, I buy my wine through the internet, through a few wineries (e.g. Maples Vineyard, Ridge, and Torii Mor), and from local wine shops. In addition, I will always support Unwined in Alexandria near my house because the staff is tremendous. When my wife and I closed on our house a few blocks away, we got take-out to eat on the kitchen floor (the place was completely empty). We saw Unwined and decided to grab some Champagne. They wouldn’t allow us to use our paper cups Miles style and loaned us stems to use instead. We brought them back the following day and now pick up a bottle or two there fairly regularly.

I couldn’t resist this opportunity to sing their praises as I really believe in supporting good local businesses and excellent customer service.


I agree with your sentiment in supporting local shops. I'm getting into Bordeaux and Barolo but outside of Total Wine I can't find any local shops with a great selection. Might have to check out Unwined after work.
 
Posts: 47 | Registered: Sep 28, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I hope you like the shop. Just to clarify, they don't have a tremendous Bordeaux selection, but they are nice people.

Obviously I am not the most qualified as I posted the question originally, but my limited experience has led me to believe Calvert Woodley is the best bet to get selection plus knowledgeable staff locally. As for price, it seems like it is always expensive.


Fruit on the bottom - hope on top.
 
Posts: 88 | Location: Alexandria, VA | Registered: Oct 07, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by mhb:
quote:
Originally posted by MapleFan:
If you are only talking about Bordeaux purchases, I buy primarily through the internet, but Calvert Woodley has what appears to be a great Bordeaux selection – along with a great selection generally. Pearsons and Schneider’s also seem to be pretty good spots.

Outside bottles of Bordeaux, I buy my wine through the internet, through a few wineries (e.g. Maples Vineyard, Ridge, and Torii Mor), and from local wine shops. In addition, I will always support Unwined in Alexandria near my house because the staff is tremendous. When my wife and I closed on our house a few blocks away, we got take-out to eat on the kitchen floor (the place was completely empty). We saw Unwined and decided to grab some Champagne. They wouldn’t allow us to use our paper cups Miles style and loaned us stems to use instead. We brought them back the following day and now pick up a bottle or two there fairly regularly.

I couldn’t resist this opportunity to sing their praises as I really believe in supporting good local businesses and excellent customer service.


I agree with your sentiment in supporting local shops. I'm getting into Bordeaux and Barolo but outside of Total Wine I can't find any local shops with a great selection. Might have to check out Unwined after work.


Bassins and Schneiders are good on Bordeaux and Italy. Not great, but good. Pricing in DC has never been stellar. Witn 10% sales tax, it makes it even worse. Great people at both stores. I favor Bassins, but I have friends there!

PH
 
Posts: 15133 | Location: Maryland, USA (DC suburbs) | Registered: Nov 22, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks PH, I will give Bassins a try too.


Fruit on the bottom - hope on top.
 
Posts: 88 | Location: Alexandria, VA | Registered: Oct 07, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I've dealt with Bassins a few times, but not recently. They had wines they advertised in stock and were easy to deal with.


Just one more sip.
 
Posts: 36840 | Location: NY | Registered: Oct 18, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by MapleFan:
Thanks PH, I will give Bassins a try too.


Bassins is really well stocked. Nice selection of bordeaux, Rhones (esp CDP) and good italian selections as well. Kind of weak on Napa cabs and US Pinots, IMHO.


"The hardest thing to attain ... is the appreciation of difference without insisting on superiority" George Saintsbury
 
Posts: 1595 | Location: DC Suburbs, Potomac MD. | Registered: Dec 12, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by RightBankFan:
......... Kind of weak on Napa cabs and US Pinots, IMHO.


That's because the guy in charge of that department is focused, quite properly I may add, on the acquisition of Champagne! Cool

PH
 
Posts: 15133 | Location: Maryland, USA (DC suburbs) | Registered: Nov 22, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
quote:
Originally posted by RightBankFan:
......... Kind of weak on Napa cabs and US Pinots, IMHO.


That's because the guy in charge of that department is focused, quite properly I may add, on the acquisition of Champagne! Cool

PH


+1 Big Grin
 
Posts: 30131 | Location: Dallas, TX & Santa Fe, NM | Registered: Feb 21, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
quote:
Originally posted by RightBankFan:
......... Kind of weak on Napa cabs and US Pinots, IMHO.


That's because the guy in charge of that department is focused, quite properly I may add, on the acquisition of Champagne! Cool

PH

I love Bassin's. It's a 'must stop and browse' any time I'm in the area. Great people (owner and workers). Often, I'll actually browse their website prior to my arriving in town so I often know exactly what I want. I've found some excellent deals preparing that way.

And now, being right next door to Black Salt, it's a double-hitter (thanks for introducing both of these to me, PH) Cool
 
Posts: 15522 | Location: Montreal, QC | Registered: Feb 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Next introduction is Dogfish Head Brewpub on the veranda with a Cohiba Genios Maduro. Banana

PH
 
Posts: 15133 | Location: Maryland, USA (DC suburbs) | Registered: Nov 22, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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MapleFan some good retailers around the country who I have purchased Bordeaux from would be Binnys (Chicago), K&L (Cali), Garys Wine (New Jersey), Sherry-Lehmann (NYC), The Chicago Wine Company (Chicago).

Try attending some Union Des Grands Cru tastings, although the closest might be NY. These large Bordeaux only tastings give you a good opportunity to try the wines from all the different regions.

With regard to price I would suggest staying below $100....unlike Burgundy you don't need to spend $$$ on a good bottle of Bordeaux, although the opportunity will always exist. Also, more recent vintages don't require such extensive aging, unless you are purchasing the 1st Growths or certain 2nd Growths. Most wines are ready to drink upon release or maybe 5-6 years after the vintage date.

I have a huge cellar of Bordeaux, and my favorite regions are Margaux and the Pessac.
 
Posts: 2207 | Location: Chicago Suburbs | Registered: Oct 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks for the very helpful response. My biggest problem has been getting my wife understand the expense. I am winning that battle though as she was really into a 97 Montrose I found at auction. A few years ago she was strictly a Pinot Grigio at parties type wine drinker and last week she was picking up the tobacco and cedar on the nose of the Montrose and thought it was delicious. I couldn’t have been happier.

Devilish


Fruit on the bottom - hope on top.
 
Posts: 88 | Location: Alexandria, VA | Registered: Oct 07, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by MapleFan:
Thanks for the very helpful response. My biggest problem has been getting my wife understand the expense. I am winning that battle though as she was really into a 97 Montrose I found at auction. A few years ago she was strictly a Pinot Grigio at parties type wine drinker and last week she was picking up the tobacco and cedar on the nose of the Montrose and thought it was delicious. I couldn’t have been happier.

Devilish


Nice...if only i could get the fiance to be ok with the addition of a EuroCave on our wedding registry
 
Posts: 47 | Registered: Sep 28, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Congrats on the upcoming wedding and good luck with the EuroCave. Not that it sounds like you need a recommendation, but I have one and LOVE it.


Fruit on the bottom - hope on top.
 
Posts: 88 | Location: Alexandria, VA | Registered: Oct 07, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by MapleFan:
Thanks for the very helpful response. My biggest problem has been getting my wife understand the expense. I am winning that battle though as she was really into a 97 Montrose I found at auction. A few years ago she was strictly a Pinot Grigio at parties type wine drinker and last week she was picking up the tobacco and cedar on the nose of the Montrose and thought it was delicious. I couldn’t have been happier.

Devilish


Montrose is a nice wine, but there are others priced much lower that still offer a good experience. I like the more classic styled Bordeaux with leather, structured tannins, cedar and herbal characteristics (vintages like 1999,2000,2001,2002,2004,2006 & 2008). If you like more upfront fruit then enjoy the wines young. 2003 was good young, but I'm not crazy about how they are aging, and 2005 is very tannic and difficult to assess for me.
 
Posts: 2207 | Location: Chicago Suburbs | Registered: Oct 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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