The Languedoc-Roussillon is larger but remember that a large portion of what the Languedoc produces is shipped in tankers.
Almost all of what Bordeaux produces is sold in a bottle with a chateau name (an actual ‘chateau’ may or may not exist).
The region has a variable climate and you should try to learn a little about vintages, and although the better producers now have lots of tricks I have yet to taste a 2007 that I liked (including some famous names).
The best of the recent vintages include 2005, 2008, 2009, and 2010 with 2014 and 2015 also worth considering. Be more careful about what you buy from 2011, 2012, and 2013.
The magic of Bordeaux for me however is how well it goes with food and the fact that it develops complexity with age like no other wine.
I had a son born in 2000 and I bought a number of wines from that vintage and I expect to be opening some of the better wines on his 30th and even his 40th birthday (I might even give him some for himself!)
In no way could I afford to do the same now as the price of top tier Cru Classé Bordeaux has soared in the past decade — wines I bought at €25 to €35 in 2002 now cost €75 to €150.
Branded Bordeaux from famous houses used to be rather poor value although Michel Lynch was always one of the best of the crop.
These days quality is even better and it now compares very well with most petit-Chateau at the same price.
A recent tasting of the range threw up some very drinkable wines with a lot more fruit than you would expect for the price.
Obviously you can’t compare the wines to their stable-mate Chateau Lynch-Bages — but then a bottle of Lynch-Bages will cost you a minimum of €120 and more than €200 for top vintage with a bit of age such as 2005 or 2000.
A love affair with Bordeaux can be an expensive thing so the accessibility of Michel Lynch is to be praised and it represents a good starting point for the region while you save for the Lynch-Bages and Léoville-Barton.
O’Briens, Dunnes, Tesco, SuperValu
This is a blend of 90% Merlot with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, bright purple-red colour with aromas of plums and black cherry and hints of chocolate.
Fruity and fleshy with decent structure and good spice touches on the finish. This has enough tannins to cope with steak but will also sit happily alongside a simple Bolognese or lasagna.
O’Briens, Dunnes, Tesco, SuperValu
This is 100% Sauvignon Blanc sourced mainly from the Entre-Deux-Mers region. Given white Bordeaux’s mellow character we sometimes forget that Sauvignon is the main white Bordeaux grape (it is often blended with Semillon).
Ripe tropical fruit tinged aromas, sweet pear and bright apple, crisp, clean, and refreshing.
Molloys Liquor Stores www.molloys.ie
‘Cru Artisan’ is a recently revived classification for small owner-operated estates (there are just 44 listed).
This is classic Médoc with pencil paring aromas, cedar and spice and bright juicy fruits with a structured frame to give body and balance. Great value and part of Molloys French wine sale.
Sourced only from the Médoc on the left bank of the Gironde estuary this is a bit more serious as it is 50% Cabernet but is still very drinkable.
Warm spice-tinged aromas of blackcurrants and plums and some hints of cedar and pencil lead, structured but integrated tannins and lingering red fruits. This probably needs some lamb or beef but I recently drank it with pizza!
O’Briens, Independents, www.winesoftheworld.ie
The Cazes family are looking seriously at organic viticulture which really does improve the quality of grapes (partly due to reduced yields).
This Merlot is soft and fruity with black cherry and blackberry flavours with espresso hints. This will be sold under the ‘Nature’ label once the current vintage runs out.
O’Briens, 1601 Kinsale, Redmonds Ranelagh, Indpendents
It surely must be getting warm enough for Rosé and the light fresh Michel Lynch Rosé can be found at www.winesoftheworld.ie.
This however is probably my favourite Bordeaux rosé Ò pale salmon pink colour red currant and raspberry aromas, solidly fruity on the palate and a dry fresh finish. Try withgrilled seafood or with pork escalopes in a cream sauce.