Bordeaux under $15

The search for value begins in Bordeaux!

 


I’m kicking off this year's series on value wines by taking a look at one the regions least commonly associated with value: Bordeaux. Now that’s not because Bordeaux doesn't offer value, it’s just that their value wines get little attention from the media. I’m not sure why that is. Why the big names glom all of the media’s attention. I think back to my formative years with wines and how fortunate I was to have Meyney, Poujeaux, and Patache d’Aax as my introduction to Bordeaux. All remarkable values at the time, and while Poujeaux and Meyney are well into the $30 range these days, Patache d’Aux can still be found for under $20 and is worth seeking out.

Those wines, smaller scaled but classic Bordeaux, served as my introduction to what Bordeaux was and what it can become. When young, classic Bordeaux is a little stern, and moderately tannic. It possesses fine acidity which contributes to it’s early rigid feel. With time, say three years in the cellar, even a modest little Bordeaux begins to flesh out as the tannins soften. The aromas of herb and black fruit are joined by hints of earth, leather and spice. They never will become big, fruity and jammy, and that is their appeal.
These wines are destined to remain lean, elegant, and with a wonderful affinity for food. Simply prepared beef and lamb is a classic pairing but the structure of Bordeaux really serves to refresh the palate and is worth experimenting with at the table. You see what unites Bordeaux, both cheap and dear is their terroir. While many expensive wines strive to overcome what is seen as a limitation, these more modest wines tend to celebrate it. They celebrate the edge of unripeness that comes from a cool climate like Bordeaux. They celebrate the edgy structure that can come from a normal sized crop. They celebrate the complexity and elegance that one can achieve when skillfully blending varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
 
Yes, all that sounds grand, but can you expect it of a value priced bottle of Bordeaux? You bet your sweet bippy you can. In fact, a vast quantity of Bordeaux falls under the value pricing limit I’m using here: $15 a bottle. I chose this price, the actual price I paid for these bottles at retail, because the price of wines vary greatly across the country. You might very well find that $15 bottle for less, either on sale or by taking advantage of the mixed-case discount that most retailers offer. 
 
So what can you expect from value Bordeaux? First off, as with all value priced wines, expect variability, though in quality more than style. For the most part these wines are pretty simply made. No space in the budget for lots of new oak or fancy machinery tends to do that. Expect fruit that is fruity but not frooty. Herbs and mineral, and hints of bitter cocoa and yes some oak are all part of the package. it can be a bit of shock trying these wines. They are not soft. Not sweet, frankly a bit tannic and hard. But that is, to my mind, what Bordeaux is. 
 
If it’s not for you, then it simply is not for you. But if you enjoy more traditional styled wines, this value segment is becoming one of your last refuges. I can’t say that these would be my first choice at a party, unless that party was filled with hanger steaks and duck fat fries. But i would say that I would certainly stock up on a few of these to be enjoyed with dinner when the moment is right. As a group they are lovely wines which illustrate the range of today’s Bordeaux and some very affordable, and competitive pricing. Vive la Value!
 
Where varietal content was listed on the label I have included it in the notes. 

1 2 3 4 next

Top Value Bordeaux Tasted 1/14

1.
Chateau la Pigotte Terre Feu Medoc (2010)
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2.
Montravel Comtesse de Segur Chateau Laulerie (2009)
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3.
Chateau Vieil Orme Bordeaux (2011)
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4.
Chateau Clos Moulin Pontet Bordeaux Superieur (2010)
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5.
Chateau Motte Maucort Bordeaux Rouge (2010)
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6.
Chateau Clement St-Jean Cru Bourgeois Medoc (2010)
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7.
Chateau Roc de Minvielle (2010)
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8.
Les Amorelles Coteaux de Peyriac (2012)
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Comments

  • If you want to try some great Bordeaux wines, then you should also look at our trip: Haut Brion, Comtesse LeLande, Chateau Margaux, Palmer, Pavie, Figeac...Mouth watering yet? Bliss Travels

    Feb 25, 2014 at 1:54 PM


  • Snooth User: duncan 906
    Hand of Snooth
    425274 1,974

    An interesting article. I have had some lovely wines from Bordeaux at some fairly modest prices especially on the right bank

    Feb 25, 2014 at 3:38 PM


  • Snooth User: stanpar
    1134169 22

    Surprised that the Mouton Cadet is not on your list

    Feb 25, 2014 at 10:26 PM


  • Snooth User: PMinns
    490679 14

    PMinns Living in France and fairly familiar with Bordeaux wines, I have not encountered any of the above, let alone tasted them...but will look out for them in the future! My personal favourites for many years come from the MILHADE winegrowing estate in Libourne. They have consistently good Bordeaux Supérieur ( Château Recougne and Château Tour d'Auron) a Lussac St. Emilion (Château Lyonnat) and a Lalande de Pomerol (Château Sergant). All reasonably priced at between €8 and €11. 2009 was an excellent year for all these and 2010 is shaping up well. I have seen them on sale in Asia (Seoul) but not yet in the U.S.

    Mar 03, 2014 at 12:29 PM


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