2012 Château Canteloup, Médoc, Bordeaux, France (Alcohol 13%) LCBO $19.95 (750ml bottle)
Back when I was living in the UK I have fond memories of enjoying copious quantities of what was commonly referred to as Claret, and by that we usually meant a decent and inexpensive Bordeaux. Twenty years ago it seemed as if it were almost the law of the land that every restaurant worth its salt would have a Claret by the glass. Whilst it appears that this is no longer the case, I often long for those long Edinburgh afternoons spent in cheap French restaurants, sharing Claret with my friends and associates, and making a single cheese platter last for upwards of three hours. Halcyon days!
Today I often bemoan the lack of accessible red Bordeaux in restaurants and wine bars, the old guard having thoroughly fallen out of favour with a whole generation of wine buyers and, by dint of that, wine drinkers. And this is a great pity.
The first time I visited Bordeaux for Vinexpo some two decades ago, I recall being amazed at just how much inexpensive Bordeaux the Bordelais consumed themselves, and yet we saw so little of the stuff in the Canadian market. And since then I have been on a constant quest to keep a steady supply of “house” Claret on tap. Unfortunately I have had little luck over the years, having much more success back in the United Kingdom, where the charmingly archaic term Claret is still thrown about with gay abandon (See our friends at St. John’s superb bottling or Majestic Wine Warehouse’s Definition Series Claret).
After so many years of what was, for the most part, a Claret-less existence, imagine my joy upon discovering Château Canteloup, a tight little package from the Médoc that goes a long way towards satiating my almost primal need for not-too-expensive juice in my preferred style.
As the second wine of the Cru Bourgeois Château La Gorce, the Château Canteloup comes with adequate pedigree. This wine really manages to straddle that gap between ripeness and elegance with ease, the dense fruit core in harmony with an architecture of considerable finesse considering the bottle price. A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, with Merlot dominating, gives us a bouquet of blackcurrants, mocha, cedar, and spice. The palate is one of black berry fruits, with a defined tannic profile, and a pronounced hit of Médoc graphite on the back of the palate, a characteristic that I truly crave.
For under $20 I don’t think that you’ll find a better Claret than this.
(Four apples out of a possible five)
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he likes a well-priced bit of Claret.