In my 14 years in the wine trade, I have never experienced as much excitement surrounding any vintage from any region as the illustrious 2005 Bordeaux. With record-setting prices (some more than $2,000 per bottle), and incredible consistency from the top First Growths to the "petite Chateaus," this is a vintage everyone should be looking at. What makes it so special? According to Wine Spectator's James Suckling, "A great year produces great wines that are always great, no matter when you drink them, young or old, and 2005 is exactly like that."
For me, the thrill of buying wine is in finding the best wines at the best prices. After tasting more than 200 of the classified growth 2005 Bordeaux at the annual "Grands Cru de Bordeaux" tasting in Manhattan, I realized that while many of the classified growths of Bordeaux require a small home equity loan, there are secrets to finding thousands of hidden gems that won't break the bank.
While Bordeaux can have a dizzying array of labels, regions and Chateau, buying good to excellent wine from 2005 is easier than you might think. Simply ask your neighborhood wine shop about the location of the particular vineyard. They can suggest "the guy next door" who is producing wines as good, if not better than, their more famous neighbors. For example, Leoville Barton is more than $300/bottle, but their highly rated neighbor, Chateau Langoa Barton, is less than half the price. For those of us with Chateau Lafite tastes, but Chateau Bob budgets, there is a whole world of wines to be explored.
My favorite thing is finding the "satellite" villages on the outskirts of famous winemaking regions, such as Montagne-St. Emilion, or Lalande de Pomerol. If you had a major anniversary or milestone in 2005, there are hundreds of great wines that will easily age for two or more decades. In this great year, you can afford to buy cases of delicious age-worthy wines and still have grocery money left over to buy that nice roast to complement your new discovery. Cheers to that!
Tips for buying 2005 Bordeaux
Look for satellite appellations: Lussac St. Emilion, Montagne St. Emilion, and Lalande de Pomerol
For aging: Ste. Estephe, St. Julien, and Pauillac
For drinking and aging: Pessac Leognan/Graves, Margaux, Pomerol, Medoc, and St. Emilion.
Top picks for 2005 Bordeaux
Under $15: Chateau le Calvaire, Grand Colombier Montagne St. Emilion, Grand Claret de Lagrange Clinet
Under $30: Chateau Lanessan Haut Medoc La Violette Cotes de Castillon, La Fleur de Surget Lalande de Pomerol, La Violette Cotes de Castillon
Collector's Best Bets: Pichon Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac, Chateau Laforge St. Emilion, Domaine de Chevalier Blanc Pessac Leognan