Today’s ‘second wine’ from Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste is the latest in a series of winners from our buying trip to Bordeaux nearly a year ago. The grand vin, or ‘first wine,’ from Grand-Puy-Lacoste received strong critical acclaim from the critics in 2007, but from a price-to-quality perspective, we were blown away by this superb second label, which we managed to direct-import and offer for less than $40. This is classic, Cabernet-driven Pauillac from one of the most historic properties in the Médoc, deeply evocative of place and immensely satisfying to drink now. Enjoying a mature, world-class red at its peak is an experience every wine lover deserves to have, and if you think such an experience is necessarily expensive, think again. We’ve got you covered!
Lacoste Borie is so named for the Borie family, who have owned and run Grand-Puy-Lacoste since 1978. Designated as a cinquième cru classé (“fifth growth”) in the famed 1855 Classification of Bordeaux châteaux, Grand-Puy-Lacoste has, like many of its fellow fifth-growths from Pauillac (Lynch-Bages; Pontet-Canet; Haut-Batailley), regularly out-performed properties of higher “rank”’—and yet the Bordeaux hierarchy still mostly holds when it comes to pricing, which, as you know, grows astronomical in a hurry. The gorgeous Grand-Puy-Lacoste property sits on a plateau (puy means “hillock” in French) of deep gravel, with the vineyards in a single contiguous block surrounding the château. Their lineup is the classic one-two punch of grand vin and second wine, sourced from a total of about 55 hectares of vines.
The passionate steward of Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, François-Xavier Borie, gleaned the art of viticulture from his father, Jean-Eugène, at his home, Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. He then embarked to study business and enology before working with négociants and the Christie’s auction house. In 1978, when his family acquired Grand-Puy-Lacoste, he came on as director of the estate, where he has been faithful to its historic legacy ever since. Vines have been replanted with “precision,” which leaves the average age at 38 years. Use of chemicals has been reduced by more than half under François-Xavier’s guidance and today, one-third of the property is farmed organically. Hand-harvested fruit is derived entirely from the estate in its original boundaries. The 2007 Lacoste-Borie is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc, which is slowly macerated over 3 weeks and aged in 30% new French oak barrels for 14-16 months.
Now with close to a decade of aging under its belt, the 2007 Lacoste Borie is evolving into an aromatic, supple, and textbook expression of Cabernet Sauvignon from Pauillac. Rarely does this much Cabernet “breed” shine through at this price point: In the glass it’s still a deep ruby with ever-so-slight bricking at the rim, with an aromatic profile that combines still-fresh primary fruit aromas (cassis, plum, blackberry, currant) with the intriguing ‘secondary’ notes that emerge over time (cigar box, leather, cedar, cacao, and dried violets). Medium-plus in body and as smooth and elegant as Emmanuel Macron, this is drinking beautifully now, especially after about 30 minutes in a decanter. I expect it to continue improving through 2020, likely peaking around then, so don’t hesitate to lay some bottles down—this will make a reliable go-to for casual and more-formal meals alike. Serve it in large Bordeaux stems at 60-65 degrees and pair it with something similarly regal—a classic like Steak Diane (see recipe) would be great way to showcase this wine’s (and your) smooth sophistication. Enjoy!