I’m celebrating what my daughter calls a ‘big birthday’ today - by which she has in mind one with a zero in it.
In my case, it means I join the ranks of the septuagenarians, more generally known as doddery old men.
But thanks to a recent tasting, I know exactly what I shall be sipping tonight to mark the occasion, in the form of one of my all-time favourite Bordeaux bottles.
Back in the 1970s, Hugh Johnson referred to the wines of Paulliac as ‘striking and brilliant,’ in his authoritative World Atlas of Wine, and he hit the nail right on the head. Even just saying the name starts me salivating.
Majestic Wine Warehouses is currently offering reduced prices on a range of wines until April 23, when you buy two bottles, and I immediately spotted Pauillac de Ulysse Cazabonne 2008 (13.5 per cent, down from £19.99 to £17.99) on the list.
What a pleasure to drink - silky, soft, intense, blackcurrant, oak and cigar-box, and at under £20 a bottle it puts the icing on the birthday cake. I am happy to drink this on its own to really savour these tastes, but it would grace any dinner-table.
Along with the wines of Margaux and St Julien, in the same part of Bordeaux, it can be enjoyed any time over the next five years or so, for those able to wait.
Other new arrivals at Majestic this spring, with the reduced price offer, include Bordeaux Superieur 2009 Marquis de Belleville (13.5 per cent, down from £7.99 to £5.99), a decent, drinkable claret, with full, ripe flavours and a smooth character, at a bargain-basement price.
I was pleased to taste a product of a great vintage year – Plan de Dieu Le Mistral 2010 Remy Ferbras (14.5 per cent, down from £9.99 to £6.99).
This powerful wine, from the Cotes de Rhone Villages area, has plenty of complex black fruit flavours, from a blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre. A good accompaniment for robust meat dishes and strong cheeses.
Back in Bordeaux, and a rich, plummy, very dark wine with hints of spice – Chateau Beaulieu 2006 Lalande de Pomerol (12.5 per cent, down from £14.99 to £9.99), which calls out for roasts or stews to go with it.
As well as the Paulliac mentioned above, I also resolved to invest in a couple of bottles of Chateau Meaume 2007, Bordeaux Superieur 2007 (12 per cent, down from £9.99 to £7.99). This is already an established favourite with this retailer’s customers, not a new arrival, and displays a stylish, deep fruity character, with touches of cedar. Soft and fulsome, it has echoes of the oak barrels in which some of it was aged. It’s at its peak for drinking right now, up to 2013.
In the midst of all this redness, I thought I should slip in a reference to a newly-arrived white – Cres Ricards Marsanne Roussanne 2011 Pays d’d’Oc (13.5 per cent, down from £9.99 to £7.99). This is made from the two grape varieties, and suggests ripe apples, melons and pears, with little hints of honeysuckle and vanilla. A wine to partner fish or fowl – or to drink as an aperitif.
Minimum order at Majestic is six bottles.