France may have established that the grapes of Bordeaux go very well together, but that essential blend can now be found in excellent wines worldwide, from South Africa to Washington State.
California does particularly well with the black grapes of Bordeaux: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. California Bordeaux blends include some of the biggest names in Napa, like Harlan, Colgin and Opus One. Harlan Estate currently retails for more than $750 a bottle, while Colgin tops $400. But those high-priced bottles aren’t my focus here. Instead, I’m concentrating on the very best Bordeaux blends available for $125 or less.
The top values here are the Ridge Estate, at about $44; the Wallis Family Estate Little Sister at $45; the Rockpile Winery Buck Pasture at about $50 and the Justin Isosceles, which averages about $56 for a bottle of the 2009.
While this list is dominated by Napa Valley based producers, it also includes Paso Robles’s Justin, Santa Cruz Mountain’s Ridge and Northern Sonoma’s Rockpile Winery (Mauritson).
1. Spring Mountain Vineyard Elivette, Napa Valley (Spring Mountain District) This winery has incorporated four historic, contiguous vineyard properties that were each quite large on their own: Alba, Chevalier, La Perla and Miravalle. The total holdings are now 845 acres, including 225 acres of vines planted in 135 discrete hillside blocks at elevations running from 400 to 1600 feet on the eastern slope of Spring Mountain. The winemaker is Jac Cole and the vineyard manager is Ron Rosenbrand. The Elivette is basically a barrel selection each year of the best lots from the different blocks of Bordeaux varieties.