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Top 10 best value wines of Bordeaux 2016

The 10 clarets expected (or hoped) to be the ‘best value for money’ this campaign – as long as they stay under £500 a case.

In Liv-ex’s annual members’ survey of the latest Bordeaux vintage, as well as asking its international members what they consider the ‘best’ wines, it also asks which wines they think will offer the ‘best value for money’.

The question and concept of ‘value’ in fine wine is much debated but in this instance it is generally agreed upon that it is to be hoped the wines will cost under £500 a dozen – and it’s not always the case that this happens.

The wines cover a reasonably wide range of communes and price points but, interestingly, are all Left Bank. A sign of the year or just the Médoc’s inherent good value?

10. Lagrange

2015 release price: €28.80 p/b
Neal Martin: 94-96
Jancis Robinson MW: 16.5
James Suckling: 95-96

Saint–Julien is a very definite ‘sweet spot’ in 2016 and this third growth has certainly delivered.

Martin said it almost “’zings’ around the senses” and is certainly superior to the 2015.

The likelihood of it being below £500 a case is high, last year it was out at around £200 a case and one has to go back to 2000 before one finds a case costing above £500. Even with a price increase and the exchange rate therefore, there’s some wiggle room for this property in the pricing game.

9. Giscours

2015 release price: €36 p/b
Neal Martin: 93-95
Jancis Robinson MW: 17
James Suckling: 96-97

Another third growth, this time from Margaux which didn’t quite, as a commune, match up to the heights of 2015 in most people’s books.

Nonetheless, this is clearly a solid follow up to 2015 from an estate with a good track record of sensible pricing.

8. Beychevelle

2015 release price: €50.40 p/b
Neal Martin: 96-98
Jancis Robinson MW: 16.5
James Suckling: 94-95

Back to Saint-Julien for what is an increasingly up-and-coming estate. That is it not to say the quality of its wines hasn’t made it a firm favourite with merchants and collectors for years but its pricing has equally become a touch more ambitious.

Last year it was offered at just over £500 a case but 2016 is clearly something special, Martin even going so far as to say it, “leaves all other Beychevelles in recent years standing”.

With €50 a bottle ex-négoce as a starting point and critical praise rolling in, is it too much to hope that this ‘good value’ wine will be below £500 a case?

7. Langoa Barton

2015 release price: €32 p/b
Neal Martin: 91-93
Jancis Robinson MW: 17.5
James Suckling: 94-95

The third Saint-Julien wine on the list which speaks not just of the quality of this commune in 2016 but also, it might be argued, of the fact that so many of its estates are hugely overlooked.

Understatedly classic rather than an electric boogaloo, like Giscours and Lagrange, Langoa Barton can probably be expected to remain squarely in the £300+ a case category once it emerges.

6. Cantemerle

2015 release price: 19.80 p/b
Neal Martin: 90-92
Jancis Robinson MW: 15.5
James Suckling: 94-95

An oft forgotten about fifth growth from the Haut-Médoc, Cantemerle is very much in the ‘proper/ drinkers/ lunchtime/ buyers’ club school of ‘clarets’.

Never the most blockbuster of Bordeaux but geared towards drinking pleasure, it may break £200 a case on release due to the exchange rate.

5. Branaire-Ducru

2015 release price: €37 p/b
Neal Martin: 92-94
Jancis Robinson MW: 17
James Suckling: 95-96

Yet another Saint-Julien and one that in fact is already out AND… was under the £500 limit.

Somewhat by the skin of its teeth though, at €39.60 p/b it was 6.5% up on the release of its 2015 and therefore 17% more expensive when offered in London at £465 a dozen.

Clearly, however, it is an excellent effort from the fourth growth and if more expensive than a number of back vintages, it certainly has the critical clout to back that price up. The word on social media did not seem dead-set against it and perhaps that’s enough but maybe it hasn’t sold as much as it might otherwise. We shall see.

4. Angludet

2015 release price: €18 p/b
Neal Martin: 89-91
Jancis Robinson MW: 16.5
Tim Atkin MW: 90

Another lunchtime claret of increasing renown and as a wine made solely for drinking the likelihood of this breaking £500 a case is as remote as Pluto.

In fact it’s already out at a wallet-friendly £250 a dozen and Berry Bros & Rudd’s Bordeaux buyer, Max Lalondrelle, recently told the drinks business that the merchant sold out of its 900 case allocation in one afternoon.

3. Clerc Milon

2015 release price: €43
Neal Martin: 92-94
Jancis Robinson MW: 17.5
James Suckling: 94-95

From the Mouton stable alongside d’Armailhac (which of course is already out), this again is a fifth growth Bordeaux and exactly the sort of wine that merchants want clients to ‘fill their boots’ with.

The 2015 was out at £440 a case which is certainly at the upper end of the spectrum for this list, and it’s possible that with a large-ish increase the exchange rate will take it over £500. If that does happen though, it’s in danger of being a missed opportunity.

2. Calon Ségur

2015 release price: €53 p/b
Neal Martin: 95-97
Jancis Robinson MW: 17+
James Suckling: 98-99

This revitalised Saint-Estèphe property (a commune likewise something of a star in 2016) is on the up rather like Beychevelle and its sister property Capbern (formerly Capbern-Gasqueton).

The scores alone show this is a wine to watch out for in this campaign, Martin saying it’s a “step up” from the 2015 and Suckling that it’s the wine “we’ve been waiting for” from the property, but perhaps it would have been better to include Capbern on the list instead.

Not that Calon Ségur will get its pricing ‘wrong,’ but the 2015 was released at a hefty £560 a case and there’s no indication that the estate will lower its price for the 2016. Factor in the exchange rate and a sub-£500 Calon is likely wishful thinking.

1. Grand-Puy-Lacoste

2015 release price: €48 p/b
Neal Martin: 95-97
Jancis Robinson MW: 17
James Suckling: 96-97

For the seventh consecutive year in a row this Pauillac fifth growth has topped the (hoped for) ‘best value’ list.

There’s perhaps a chance that GPL won’t go over the £500 mark, like Calon Ségur almost certainly will, but it will be by the skin of its teeth.

Released in 2015 at £487 a case, even if it holds its ex-négoce price at the same level as its 2015, the exchange rate alone may take it irrevocably upwards.

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