A pair of elegant red wines

The other day I was fortunate enough to taste two very different wines. They were like chalk and cheese in many ways and yet I think they would appeal to the same sort of drinker.

One was a really classic wine, I know this term is overused, but the wine in question is a Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux that I have tasted on and off throughout my career and one that is much loved by the UK wine trade – Château Caronne Ste Gemme.

The harvest at Château Caronne Ste Gemme

Located just to the south of the commune of St Julien in the Haut-Médoc (number 3 on the map), Caronne Ste Gemme often has some of that famous village’s cedary style, which to many Brits is the quintessence of claret. Unlike the mass of estates further north, this property is on its own, but it occupies some impressively deep, superbly drained, gravel soils which help it to produce concentrated wines from its 45 hectares of vines that are made up of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot and 37% Merlot. Continue reading

Affordable Claret: Château Tour St Bonnet 2006

Every now and then I get a craving for Claret. Sometimes I can stave it off with a good bottle of something similar, but different – a good Cabernet, Rioja or Chianti, or something slightly odd perhaps. That can only work for so long though, then I have to drink a bottle of claret. The trouble is, nowadays that means money.

So, I was thinking what sort of wine do consumers actually get for the moderately priced Clarets that adorn the supermarket shelves? It is a long time since I tried any, so I decided to set that right.

In a branch of Morrisons I came across a real blast from my past: Château Tour St Bonnet. I used to sell this wine over 20 years ago and it had always proved popular, indeed had been a bit of a star, but that was the 1985 vintage.

In those days it always represented stunning value for money and gave a real bottle of Château bottled Claret for not much more than a basic branded Bordeaux – that is still true. Continue reading