It’s no surprise that the current issue of Wine Spectator (March 31, 2008) is devoted to the spectacular vintage of 2005 in Bordeaux, which the magazine ranks with such legendary years as 2000, 1990, 1989, 1982 and 1961. It’s no surprise that eight of the top chateaux from Bordeaux’s renowned growing regions merited perfect 100-point scores, with many others in the mid and high 90s. Nor is it a surprise that prices for properties with glittering reputations and impeccable appeal are horrendous. Look at the figures that WS quotes: Ausone $2,000 a bottle; L’Evangile, $260 a bottle (the bargain of this group); Haut-Brion rouge, $930; Haut-Brion blanc $510; Lafleur, $2,000; Leoville Las Cases, $315; Margaux, $1,080; Latour, $1,110; Lafite Rothschild $850; Cheval Blanc $945 and so on. Chateau Petrus comes in at $4,975 a bottle, but before you unlimber your credit card to spring for one of those babies, remember that about $4,224.75 pays for water, while $750.25 pays for the stuff that makes wine, you know, wine. I’m just sayin’.

No, the surprise lies here, in this description, by James Suckling, WS’s longtime Bordeaux correspondent, of Chateau Caronne- Ste.-Gemme 2005, a $17 Cru Bourgeois wine from Haut Medoc. This is listed under the “Smart Buys” segment of the magazine’s caroone2.gif “Buying Guide” section. Here’s what Suckling says about the wine, scoring it 91: “Offers raisin and dried fruit, with very ripe fruit aromas and coffee and oak undertones. Full-bodied, with velvety tannins and a long finish. This is pumped up, but I like the flamboyant character.”

“Raisins”! “Pumped up”! “Flamboyant”! What’s scary about these notices concerning Bordeaux 2005 isn’t really the prices — let the plutocrats and robber barons sort that out in their clubhouses and playgrounds — but that the Bordeaux critic for WS tasted a red wine from Bordeaux, described it in a fashion that makes it sound like a hot-climate zinfandel from Lodi, and liked it. Somewhere in there is a hint of the beginning of the end.