I started collecting wine with a case of Bordeaux wine almost exactly 30 years ago… The case in question? A 1983 Château Kirwan – magical wine indeed! It was expensive, but worth the investment and over the years, Bordeaux has remained one of my favorite regions. It is also fairly easy to understand from an appellations perspective and the many classifications make it fun to collect.
No shock, the prices in Bordeaux continue to escalate with a string of strong, vintages serving as the primary driver. My advice has always been to look at lesser labels, or second labels of “classified growths” in really strong vintages, because you can find some really tremendous values that have great aging potential and great drinkability. One needs to be careful, of course, but generally this approach has garnered some real gems in the cellar.
Another strategy is to look to the many sub-regions of Bordeaux that lack name recognition and notoriety. In these smaller, less-well-known areas, wine makers craft some really nice wine and sell it at very fair prices.
To me, Puisseguin-Saint-Émilion is one of those lesser-known regions; a small satellite of the more well-known Saint-Émilion region, which has the potential for producing really nice wine, usually at very reasonable prices. Puisseguin-Saint-Émilion itself is on the right bank of the Dordogne River, northeast of Saint-Émilion proper, and was granted its AOC status in 1936. There are a little less than 2,000 acres under vine producing a little less than 1 million gallons of wine. Not prodigious, but enough. Only red wine is produced in the region, and while all of the five grape varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot) allowable in Bordeaux can be and are used, it is Merlot that dominates the blends.
Château Côtes de Saint Clair is a bit of a mystery… I could find almost no information about the property, but that does not diminish my enjoyment of the wine. A definite winner, which underscores the validity of my aforementioned Bordeaux wine-buying tip.
My tasting notes:
Lush nose with plum, blackberry and minerally hints. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity and firm, dry tannin – well balanced. Dark fruit core with tobacco leaf, cocoa dust and black currants – very nice. Long finish – smooth with layered complexity – anise and bittersweet chocolate on the aftertaste. Drinking well now and should continue to improve for another 5 to 7 years in the bottle, at least. Great value!
At an average retail cost of $14.99/bottle pre-discount, this wine is a fantastic value!