A lovely Bordeaux, for just £8

The other day I was in a convenience store over the road, under instructions to buy some Chewits Extreme for younger son, when a couple of bottles of wine caught my eye. Along with the usual brands, there were two bottles of Caronne Ste Gemme 2004, unpriced.

I asked, and after about 5 minutes, they figured the price was £7.99 (just a little more than half normal price). So I bought one, just out of curiosity.

Chris Kissack didn’t like it all that much (here), and the cellartracker reviews have it in the high 80s. But I really like it. It’s a classically styled Bordeaux, with some nice greenness and a bit of grip. This is what we come to Bordeaux for: no other region can make wines like these, save perhaps the Loire. With just a quarter aged in new oak, it’s very well balanced. No spoofiness at all. I’ll be going back for the second bottle tomorrow, and I’ll ask them whether they can get any more.

I genuinely prefer this modest (by Bordeaux standards) wine over much more lauded examples from the ripe 2009 vintage which often don’t really taste like Bordeaux at all.

Chateau Caronne Ste Gemme 2004 Haut Medoc, Bordeaux
12.5% alcohol. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot. Attractive, ripe, pure blackcurrant fruit nose with a fresh green edge and some notes of spice, herbs and minerals. Lovely tension between the sweet fruity notes and the savoury, leafy green tones. The palate shows fresh blackcurrants with some grippy, mineral, chalky, subtly tarry structure. It’s vital and sappy, balancing on the cusp of ripeness in the way that so many good Bordeaux wines seem to manage so well. It’s not a blockbuster, but it has adequate concentration and purity, and is beginning to drink very well now. It will peak in a year or two but then plateau for several years, I reckon. Great value for money. 92/100

Find this wine with wine-searcher.com

9 comments to A lovely Bordeaux, for just £8

  • Tony Bennett

    Brilliant phrase Jamie, “balancing on the cusp of ripeness”, summing up marvellously a thing I like about many Bordeaux wines. I’ve not managed to try the Caronne St Gemme 04 and haven’t had any for many vintages (probably had the 97), but will look out for more.

  • nice pick – was there this year during en premieur. this was the vineyard that was vandalized. http://goo.gl/Wy8lI

    congrats – glad to see blogging isn’t dead. Not yet

  • Dan

    Great when you find a gem like this that just suits your palate. My 2004s are all drinking pretty well right now.

  • Michaelb

    I suspect that if they get you some more, the price will not be £7.99!

  • Ed

    Many pleasant surprises to be found in lower ranked 04 Bordeaux.

  • I’m always a bit confused when the 2009s come in for the “don’t really taste like Bordeaux at all”. They’re so obviously Bordeaux when you taste them. Bordeaux from a ripe vintage which is far superior to 2004, a vintage where there is much great value to be had (the most recent vintage in which the prices of old favourites such as Léoville-Barton, Pichon-Baron, etc. haven’t yet hit the stratosphere) but really offers very little of what 2009 promises. As the 2009s tighten up (as they were doing on my most recent look during May) they become more and more convincing. People with 2009s in their cellars have a lot to look forward to in 10-20 years.

    I seem to recall quite a few professionals complained that the 1982s weren’t proper Bordeaux as well.

  • Richard

    £13 in my (Birmingham) Londis but not in stock – guy looked the price up.

    A friend found a 1987 Chablis 1er cry, Goulley, Les Mortmains there today though. They let him have it for £5.

  • Paul Servian

    Great wine, congratulations!

  • Richard

    The Chablis was undrinkable!

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