2000 deemed a good year for red Bordeaux — at all price levels

Robert M. Parker Jr., the world’s most influential wine critic, declared 2000 “a phenomenal year that might turn out to be one of the greatest vintages Bordeaux has ever produced.” The Wine Spectator magazine called it the best vintage for red Bordeaux since 1961.

The marketplace must agree because the prices of these wines, high when they were sold as futures three years ago, continue to rise. (Unlike commodity futures, people who buy wine futures want to take delivery. They buy the wine the spring after the harvest, even before it’s bottled, at a lower price, and take delivery about two years later.) The wines from the most famous properties – such as Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Mouton Rothschild, which started at near $300 a bottle – are currently selling for more than $600 a bottle. And these are wines that will not be ready to drink for another decade at least.

One of the great aspects of the 2000 red Bordeaux is that they were excellent across the board, at all price levels. An advantage of the less prestigious properties, in addition to their affordability, is that their wines are ready to drink sooner. Since Bordeaux chateau make relatively large quantities of wine, at least compared to Burgundy, much is still in the marketplace.

The French government has classified the chateau of the Medoc, a major subregion of Bordeaux, according to quality. The top group, known as the Cru Classe, includes just 60 chateaux, about 3 percent of the properties.

Be prepared to pay for these wines and have patience, since they need years of aging before they are ready to drink. The next level down, the Cru Bourgeois, encompasses roughly another 10 percent of the properties and represents great value. These chateaux often make higher-quality wines than their prices suggest.

Chateau Plagnac, one such Cru Bourgeois, made a great wine in 2000, whichis enjoyable now.

A blend of roughly two-thirds cabernet sauvignon and one-third merlot, it conveys ripe, broad flavors supported by supple tannins.

Try it the next time you are grilling steaks.

Chateau Plagnac, 2000; about $15 (distributed by Ruby Wines, 508- 588-7007)