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My First $10K Sell: A Tasting Guide to First Growth Bordeaux Wine

Last weekend, I was working in my restaurant when I was approached by a Casino Host before the dinner rush. This lady wanted to bring in her top client and family to my establishment wanting to buy high-end French wine. I asked, “Would your client prefer Champagne, Burgundies like Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, or Cabernet-based Bordeaux wine?” She replied back, “My client wants the very best Bordeaux!”

(When someone utters “wine” and “very best” without mentioning the price at the end of the sentence, I go straight to the top!)

Did She Really Want the Best Bordeaux Wine?!

I showed the host our casino’s premium wine list and stated the wines that are ready to drink now. I also mentioned that there are newer vintages of Bordeaux available but will need many hours of decanting in order for the wine to be ready. As we glanced at the wine list, I slide my finger into our 5 finest Bordeaux wines, which happened to be the only ones that were ready to drink now. She said, “I want all five of these! How much is that?”

Bordeaux Wine

I answered, “$9,995. When would you like to have the wines ready by?”

Why are these wine so expensive? These are the most sought-after wines in the world. You will only find these selections in high-end wine lists, cellars, and in wine auctions. Bordeaux, France first created a 5-tiered system (or growths) of 51 wines that they deemed “The greatest” of all wines back in 1855. This 1855 Classification of Bordeaux Wine was created by Napolean Bonaparte to create the tradition of having the best Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot blend in the Left Bank of the Bordeaux. Because of the aging potential, the rarity of product left, its prestige, and the cost of making these wines makes the price so steep. Of the 51 wines, only 5 are considered First-Growths, which were the wines purchased. These wines are listed below.

1990 Chateau Margaux

Bordeaux WIneThis is the softest of the 5 First Growth Bordeaux. This Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot blend expresses delicate raspberry, plum, cedar, and sandalwood perfumed aromatic with a soft, extremely long finish. If you are a Pinot Noir lover, there are many similar traits to make the transition into trying this wine. The price: $1450!!! I know the price tag is really expensive, but there are second and third tiered wines are more approachable at around $50 a bottle. Make sure you decant the wine for 2 hours minimum if you have a Margaux after the 2005 vintage!

1995 Chateau Haut Brion

Bordeaux WineThe 1995 Chateau Haut Brion only needs to be decanted for 20 minutes in order to achieve the best flavor. The current vintage is 2013, which needs 7 hours to decant minimum! Once the funk of the aged wine goes away, you’ll receive the perfect balance of cedar, ripe plum, tart blueberry, pencil shavings, and cherries in the aromas and flavor. The wine is a touch heavier and dryer than the Chateau Margaux from the previous post. If you are a fan of Syrahs and lighter Merlots, then this is the wine for you. There are less expensive options for other wines from the Pessac Leognan appellation so you don’t have to pay $1,450 for this bottle.

1995 Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Bordeaux WineChateau Mouton Rothschild is known for having artists from around the world design their label in every vintage. Antoni Tapias is the Artist and Designer from Barcelona, Spain who created the image. His trademark, “battlefields where wounds are multiplied to infinity” uses ruptured etches of all of your senses to get an idea of what the wine smells and taste like. Whenever I taste this wine, the aromas and flavors are completely different! The aromas offer blueberry, chocolate, tar, cherry, and sandalwood. The flavor finishes a touch dry, medium-bodied (whole-milk feel), and ripe blackberries. Love it!

1995 Chateau Latour

Bordeaux WineThe design on the label of Chateau Latour is a garrison fort that was used in Bordeaux in the Hundred Year’s War from 1337 to 1453. This war lasted 116 years for the French to eventually defeat English army. The war also featured the famed Joan of Arc, who fought in Northwest France 100 miles north of where Chateau Latour is today.

Chateau Latour is for the wine lover that enjoys Cabernet Sauvignons from Sonoma, California without the heavy fruit extraction. The aromas offer heavy gravel, tar, blackberry, cedar, and plum with the finish of a medium-bodied and dry finish. While the finish is short, the flavor is rugged yet relaxing at the same time. This is ready to drink now as oppose to decanting the wine for a day for its 2014 vintage!

1996 Chateau Lafite Rothschild

Bordeaux WineOf the 5 First-Growth Bordeaux that is deemed “The greatest red wines of France”, Chateau Lafite has the longest aging potential than any other wine in the area. Here, the 1996 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, are the driest and least fruit-forward of any of the 5 wines showcased this week. Only 35% of the grapes are qualified to be part of the Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Once bottled, this wine can age for up to 50 years with its strong tannic structure. I need to decant the wine and let rest 2 hours after opening. The current vintage of the 2013 needs 18 hours minimum to decant!

I rarely post wines that I sell, but this will never happen again. I hope you have the opportunity to one day try these wines. Just let someone else purchase it!

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