2009 Le Baron de Brane, Margaux

Let's talk for a second about Bordeaux. Some of the most expensive, highly demanded wines in the world come from this region. Unlike the rest of France where the vineyard is king, in Bordeaux, the Chateau that makes the wine is often the driving factor regarding price. Names like Mouton, Petrus, and Lafite go for top dollar, but at hundreds (to thousands) of dollars in price, these wines are out of the price range of many wine drinkers.

What are we to do?

Lucky for us, these same top producers make a second label wine. They reserve their top grapes in any given vintage for their top wines, but use the rest of the grapes, often from newer vines or less-choice blocks for these second labels.

Which is exactly the case with tonight's Baron de Brane, the second wine of Château Brane-Cantenac in Margaux.  Château Brane-Cantenac is a Second-Growth Bordeaux that usually runs around $100 a bottle (more or less depending on the quality of the vintage and the age of the wine) while a bottle of Baron de Brane can be gotten for about a third the price. This is good news to fans of Bordeaux who can't spring for top bottles.

The wine itself is very nice, black currants, cherries and plums are on the nose with quite a lot of minerality, cloves, green tobacco and a just a hint of earthy barnyard. There's firm tannin, nice acid, and a decent finish. The wine is well-made and balanced, if lacking in the power and complexity I'm sure would be in a Château Brane-Cantenac. It was quite tasty with dinner tonight, and if you are looking to understand what the fuss is about when it comes to Bordeaux, the Baron de Brane is a good entry-level wine to get you started.

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