If you want the richness of the 2009 Bordeaux wines without the exquisite prices attached to them, look to the lesser appellations and Château Lyonnat.
In June 2010, I spent a week in Bordeaux, blind-tasting more than 350 wines from the outstanding 2009 vintage. The wines were uniformly pungent, flavorful and velvety. Intense blackberry, mulberry and black cherry aromas rose from the glass and deep, rich black fruit flavors filled my mouth. For such young wines, the tannins were remarkably soft and integrated, and the wines were irresistible. I labeled the 2009 Bordeaux wines the Hedonistic vintage.
But such pleasure came at a price. The great châteaux demanded astounding amounts for the wines. But smart buyers turned to the less prestigious appellations and names, because in 2009, you had to be a completely incompetent winemaker to spoil what Mother Nature delivered.
Saint-Émilion might be the most renowned appellation in Bordeaux. It is the home of great châteaux and is a United Nations World Heritage village. It also is surrounded by smaller villages, referred to as "satellites" in the French wine world. Château Lyonnat is located in one of them, Lussac-Saint-Émilion.
Château Lyonnat is one of the oldest and largest in Lussac-Saint-Émilion. In the 17th century, it belonged to the local bishop and its wines were shipped to the Vatican. In 1961, Damase Milhade purchased Château Lyonnat; today, it is owned and managed by his grandson Gerard Milhade and his wife Brigitte.
Since 2008, the Milhades have retained Hubert de Boüard, the owner of Château Angelus, one of Saint-Émilion's most prestigious and internationally acclaimed châteaus, as a wine consultant. You can see his influence in the dark, opaque red - almost black - color of the 2009 Château Lyonnat. Black fruit and vanilla scents occupy the nose, as your palate receives rich blackberry and black cherry flavors underscored with vanilla from the aging in French oak barrels. The tannins and acidity are intertwined with the rich, dense fruit, making the 2009 Château Lyonnat eminently drinkable and structured for aging.
The 2009 Château Lyonnat offers you all the pleasures of this hedonistic vintage without any of the financial pain. It retails for about $20; it is distributed by Monsieur Touton Selection in Manhattan (212-255-0674).
Dry, white Bordeaux wines are but a passing thought for most wine consumers. Be more thoughtful about the 2012 Saint Glinglin Sauvignon Blanc.
Glinglin is the French idiomatic equivalent to "when pigs fly." The Saint part is the venerable tag to an otherwise cheeky wine label created by American sommelier Richard Betts and respected French winemaker and châteaux owner François Thienpont.
Thienpont is a member of the family that owns one of my favorite wines, Vieux Château Certan, and another that is for the 1 percent set, Château Le Pin.
But the 2012 Saint Glinglin Sauvignon Blanc is for everyone.
It's pure sauvignon blanc from Bordeaux's Entre-Deux-Mers region, the go-to place for crisp, fresh affordable white wines. Vinified and aged in stainless-steel - if one can call a few months in the tanks aging - the wine is delightfully citrus fragrant and fresh as lemonade.
A stop at your local wine shop for a few bottles or a case is a good strategy for making
your guests and your pocketbook happy. The retail is about $19; the distributor is Grand Cru Selections in Manhattan (917-261-6628).
A Glass of Wine appears every week in Savor/Today. John Foy may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.