In the wine trade we’re not really supposed to play favourites. People often ask me my favourite vintage, style, region, producer, and I generally can’t answer. I like all sorts of wines for different purposes. For different times of year, at different price points, with different foods, or for different moods.
However, if I’m being honest I do have one favourite. If you ask me for my number one château in my beloved Bordeaux, I won’t hesitate to say Grand-Puy-Lacoste. A photo of their barrel room is the background on my phone, a drawing of the château is my desktop background, and the only souvenir bottles that I keep in my house are ‘GPL’.
There is simply no other château on the Left Bank capable of soaring to such heights at such reasonable prices. Their wines can capture that logic defying combination of elegance and power that defines Pauillac and is perhaps best typified by Château Lafite. Unless you’re regularly in the market for bottles with prices in the four figures, Grand-Puy-Lacoste is the most reliable way to touch the sky when it comes to proper claret.
There are a few stunning vintages on the market at the moment. In the great years of 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2016 their wine is obscenely good and I believe almost first growth quality. While the latter remain excellent buys as futures, the vintages with any age on them are no secret, and their prices have risen significantly.
However, for a while I’ve been on the hunt for a parcel of one particular vintage that I think offers unbelievable value at this point, the 2008, which is an underrated vintage in general and a superb Grand-Puy-Lacoste. I’m pleased to say that I’ve found it, and I believe this is as good as it gets in terms of bang for your buck classified growth. I’ve written before that the perfect time to buy wines like these is just as or just before they slide into their drinking window, and that’s just what we’re looking at here. Neal Martin put a window of 2019 to 2033 on this. Drinkable now? Yes. Improving? No doubt. He also wrote in another (very complimentary) review of this wine that it does not currently ‘reach for the stars’ as some other GPL vintages do, and I think this is fair as it stands today, though experience tells me this could be very different in a few years. We don’t have the fireworks of the 2005 or 2010 or 2016 here, but we have something that is utterly gorgeous, precisely made, wonderfully balanced, and oozes sophistication. This is just the kind of wine that Bordeaux can make better than anywhere else, Cabernet Sauvignon with power, elegance and balance in a restrained style that never feels as if it’s trying too hard. It is a wine that perfectly reflects where it comes from, and is a marvelous example of Pauillac.
Lovely, lifted bouquet of blackberry, blood orange, crushed stone, cedar and tar. The palate is medium-bodied is very supple on the entry with crisp acidity. Smooth and harmonious, the oak needing time to subsume into the fabric of the wine. The finish is fresh, vibrant, nicely poised with good grip and a fine, supple raspberry and briary.
92 pts., Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate