Top 15 California Bordeaux Blend Wines Under $125

New world meets old world

3. Justin Vineyards & Winery Isosceles (Central Coast, Paso Robles) -Justin and Deborah Baldwin were the original proprietors who bought their property in Adelaida Valley in 1981, but the winery is now owned by Roll Global. Their primary focus is on the Bordeaux varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. My favorite of their lineup has always been the Isoceles, which usually contains from 70 to 85% Cabernet Sauvignon. Their Right Bank inspired wine is Justification, based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Fred Holloway, formerly of Kendall-Jackson Artisanal Estates, is currently in charge of production.

Rich blackberry and black fruit nose; very tasty, blackberry, cassis, vanillin oak palate; medium-plus finish. 93+ points
2006Plush berry and plum nose; poised, tight, cassis and berry palate; medium-plus finish (86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot). 93 points
2004Rich, sexy, cassis, blackberry nose; tight but tasty, cassis, plum palate; medium finish (79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot; 18 months in 34% new French oak). 92+ points
4. Realm Cellars The Bard (Napa Valley) - Realm was launched in 2002 by Juan Mercado and Wendell Laidley. The winemaking team is Benoit Touquette and Michel Rolland. The Bard is their Left Bank inspired blend dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon from a blend of vineyard sites throughout Napa Valley.

Bricking, opaque red violet color; intense, blackberry, berry, lavender nose; tight, plush, blackberry, berry, mulberry palate; long finish (90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot). 93+ points
5. Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian (Napa Valley, Oak Knoll) - Blackbird Vineyard was planted to Merlot in 1997, and its fruit originally sold to a variety of producers. In 2003, Michael Polenske purchased the 10-acre property and launched Blackbird Vineyards as a premium label for Bordeaux blends, based on the estate Merlot and Bordeaux varieties sourced from other vineyards. The talented Aaron Pott is the winemaker. The Contrarian is their Right Bank inspired offering, based primarily on Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

Very dark red violet color; poised, ripe currant, light coffee, tart blackberry, tart black fruit nose; plush, tight, silky textured, tart blackberry, tart black fruit, tart cassis, tart raspberry palate with polished, sweet tannins; accessible now; medium-plus finish (38% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon). 93 points

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  • Snooth User: poefar
    206246 1

    Great article. BLENDS for the nice price of less-than-$125.

    Very helpful.

    Feb 19, 2013 at 4:20 PM

  • Snooth User: rayeverett
    144418 19

    Excellent piece and seeing as how you managed to hit on several of my favorites, I'm all the more reinforced in my high opinions of these. And curse you for adding more to my list of must-trys! :-) Thanks again Richard!

    Feb 19, 2013 at 4:55 PM

  • Snooth User: JAB34
    1038844 40

    Have tried a few ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Still dont fit the budget!!!!

    Feb 19, 2013 at 7:42 PM

  • Snooth User: blackwa
    1131505 551

    How about the Madrigal Napa Valley Sonnet #63? A great Cab Franc and Cab Sauvignon blend for just about $48.

    Feb 19, 2013 at 11:21 PM

  • Snooth User: moldavi33
    150558 5

    Justin's Isosceles is a very tasty bottle, but my preference is their Justification, which is a Cab Franc heavy Right Bank-style blend. Great fruits, impeccable balance, and only around $40 - $45 a bottle. My highest recommendations!

    Feb 20, 2013 at 11:20 AM

  • Snooth User: annwine
    296752 1

    The "Amelie" 75% Cab 25% Merlot from Mankas Hills Vineyards in the Suisun Valley 5 miles east of the southern slopes of Napa is one of the best buys at $14.00 a bottle.
    The 2005 won the Platinum award, in the 2008 Critics Challenge.

    Feb 21, 2013 at 11:47 PM

  • Snooth User: Gene Barry
    1124102 8

    I love the Trinchero Meritage from Napa, really tasty!

    Feb 23, 2013 at 4:26 PM

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