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Should you buy ‘en primeur’ 2014 Bordeaux from Marks & Spencer?
As you may have already picked up Marks & Spencer is selling 32 top 2014 Bordeaux It bought bought two years ago en primeur.
It includes some of the regions biggest names such as Chateaux Cos d'Estournel, Palmer and Lafite. The excitement is due to the fact that these wines are not only not yet in general distribution but are rarely available singly.
How can I get my hands on them?
Few of us would be able to afford the £420 it would cost for a bottle of Chateau Lafite, even if we could get our hands on one (there are only 5 six bottle cases in total). Most of the more expensive wines are only in limited distribution online or in the 20 larger stores that stock the fine wine range - mostly in London. Some of the less expensive ones are more widely distributed. Call the customer care line 0333 014 8555 who I’m told should know where they are to find a branch near you.
How do the prices look?
On the whole it’s not so much that you’re getting these at very cheap prices but that you’re getting them at all. You can’t make a direct comparison for the 14s, a decent but not a great vintage, with other retailers as they only have them in bond. But you can compare them with the prices of earlier vintages such as the 2012s or the brilliant 2010s which are in circulation and are in some cases quite a bit cheaper than the the ones M & S are selling. For example if you’re a member of the Wine Society you can get the 2012 Chateau Calon Ségur for £59 (which incidentally they don’t recommend drinking until 2022) instead of the £70 M & S is charging for the ’14 (online only)
That said if you buy a total of six bottles in store this month you should gain the advantage of a 25% discount and that makes the prices look much more attractive. (I’m told there is one at the time of writing and that it does include the Bordeaux)
When do you drink them?
The other factor is that almost none of the wines is ready to drink straight away. Obviously you can but you won’t get the best from them if you do. Frankly I would tuck most away for a special occasion. A big birthday in 2020, say, or even 2025 assuming you have the a space with the correct temperature and humidity to keep wine in good condition which most of us don’t. (There’s a useful article on the subject on Jancis Robinson’s website)
What should you pair with them?
Nothing fancy. A good roast of lamb is hard to beat maybe with a gratin dauphinoise on the side…(But hold the mint sauce!). Cheese probably won’t do these young clarets any favours either.
So should you buy?
Let’s face it a lot of this is about the experience of being able to pick a famous bottle of wine off the supermarket shelf at the same time as you’re buying your groceries. If you wouldn’t normally go into a wine merchants it’s a chance to get your hands on a wine you’ve maybe only read about or seen on a pricey wine list. But do check the prices of earlier, and perhaps more immediately gratifying, vintages. And be prepared to hang on for the 2014s!
Here are the wines I’d be tempted to buy with a comparison to earlier vintages which are being sold elsewhere. Drink dates are Marks & Spencer's own with my comments.
Château Angludet, Margaux £27 (80 stores) The 2010 is £38.95 at Connolly’s £49 Frazier’s. The 2012 is £42 at Tanners
56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot 1% Petit Verdot. Aged for 12 months and bottled without filtration. Ripe, lush sweet intense fruit
Drink 2018-30 (though personally I wouldn’t broach it until 2020 at the earliest)
Connétable de Talbot, St Julien £27 (80 stores). The 2012 is £32.50 at Hennings
55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot
Very smooth, ripe, well balanced
Drink 2017-2022 (Would hang on for at least a couple of years - should last 10 FB)
Marquis de Calon-Ségur, St Estephe £28 (80 stores)
2012 is £24 at Roberson
2nd wine of Calon-Ségur - 64% merlot and 36% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged for 17 months in oak.
Fresh, fragrant, supple, charming. One for the shorter term though still a little tannic
Chateau d’Issan, Margaux 2014 £53 (20 stores)
2010 is £70.50 a bottle at Fareham Wine Cellar, £115 at Frazier’s
77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot
Deliciously fragrant, elegant, almost feminine. Expensive but a good buy at this price. Probably my favourite of the six, barring the Pontet-Canet
Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste 2014 Pauillac £65 (20 stores, doesn't appear to be online)
2010 £72 James Nicholson, £75 Cadman Fine Wines
Fine textured, elegant but with massive, locked-in power. One for the long haul
Chateau Pontet-Canet, Pauillac £95
Laithwaites has the 2011 for £80 but 2009s and '10s are at least twice that. You can also buy the 2008 from Lea & Sandeman for £95
Gorgeous lush heady, thrilling, even at this age. Organic, biodynamic. Not in my league but if it was I'd be tempted.
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