Bordeaux Supérieur Truly Is Superior…Especially These Days

Wine folks – myself included – often look skeptically upon Bordeaux Supérieur. What’s so superior about a few extra years of vine age in a region that actually keeps its vines quite young? Sure, Supérieur wines age at least nine months before release as well, often in some sort of barrel…but, they don’t have to. At least Supérieur doesn't refer to a half percent of extra alcohol here.

Having just spent two weeks in Bordeaux with several days focused on Bordeaux Supérieur wines, what I can vouch for most certainly is that these wines offer focus and refinement, flavor and value. Most may be wines for more relaxed, any day sipping, but that doesn’t mean the wines have to be sipped up within two or so years of their vintage, as a few of these wines will attest.

Château Lagrave Paran 2009 Bordeaux Supérieur Cuvée Geraldine 14.3% $25
This deeply colored wine composed of 40% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc has a beautifully smokey nose that dances between fresh and evolved. There’s a noticeably elevated level of alcohol as the fresh and boisterous young fruit subsides, but it’s neither detracting nor too distracting. The wine’s full body is attractive, round in mild acidity and easy on the gums with its integrated tannins. The finish lingers and offers classically Bordelais flavors, especially of tar, savory spice and lit tobacco.
Drink: 2015-17

Château Bolaire 2008 Bordeaux Supérieur 13% $25
This wine isn’t shy about its color given its near impenetrable blackish core. Nearing the rim, there’s only the slightest bit of rust-inflected mulberry. Still, the wine looks more youthful than it tastes as the cedar bark and old leather notes are definitively pronounced. The plump mid-palate gives loads of mulberries, sugar-rich cherries and fresh-cut logs. The tannins are totally resolved and the acidity is meek, but the whole of the wine is enticing.
Drink: 2015-16

Château Saint-Michel 2013 Bordeaux Supérieur 13.5% $20
Beautiful, clear maroon in color, this wine smells of dark plums, damp earth and asphalt under a hot sun. Its palate is easy-going with a wide-reaching splatter of red cherries, roasted red plums and blueberries on the softly tannic palate. Medium in body, this is a good by the glass wine in a bistro, though it is best paired with food given that its multi-layered flavors offer more than easy-going, youthful for simple sipping.
Drink: 2015-17