Wine Talk

Snooth User: dannar

Looking for a "starter" cab-dominated French Bordeaux

Posted by dannar, Jul 12, 2009.

I'm interested in expanding my horizons from American, Argentinian and Chilean reds to European reds. I recently tried Ch. Magdelaine 2002 St Emilion and I was disappointed. It was just "ok", much too mellow for my taste. Perhaps it is too strongly merlot dominated for what I typically enjoy(?) On the other hand, I've had two bottles of Cotes du Rhone which were fantastic (not to mention that they cost a fraction of what the Bordeaux cost). I would like to try another Bordeaux red, but one that is perhaps more cab. dominated. I tend to enjoy very complex, meaty, spicy reds with a long long finish. I enjoy cab, zin, malbec and carmeniere wines. I'm very interested to hear suggestions on a more 'spicy' bordeaux. Also, eventually I'd like to explore more Italian and Spanish wines, so any suggestions on where to start there would be appreciated as well. It can be intimidating (not to mention expensive!) trying to learn European wines with the wines being named by region rather than varietals!


Reply by dmcker, Jul 12, 2009.

Not sure that 'spiciness' is necessarily a primary attribute of many Bordeaux cabs. Perhaps you might take a detour through more Rhone Hermitages, Cote Roties and Chateauneuf du Papes blends, as well as nebbiolos from the Piedmont and sangioveses from Tuscany, before then approaching Bordeaux. Maybe even throw in some Spanish reds from the Priorat and elsewhere. Get weaned a bit off New Worldism before approaching the old, I suppose.

If you give some examples of specific bottles you've liked, as well as a price range, I imagine detailed proposals will be forthcoming from forum readership....

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jul 13, 2009.

Dm's suggestions are a good start.

i would suggest you take a look at wines from southern Italy for wines that are similar to Zin and Malbec. Spain is also full of Grenache based wines that offer up rich, intense, and frequently spicy from oak, flavor profiles.

As far as a Cab dominated Bordeaux I would suggest Ch. Poujeaux of Ch Lafon Rochet. Bother offer good value in a slightly rustic style that can be a bit punchier than many, more elegant and polished examples..

Can you give us a budget, and they maybe we can begin to make some specific reccomendations. And where are you located?

Reply by donloah, Jul 13, 2009.

A great Italian "spicy" variety is Montepulciano from the Abruzzi region. Not to be confused with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is a light but punchy red that goes great with pasta and a heavy red sauce.

Availability is somewhat of a problem, even in Italy it isn't widely available but it is normally modestly priced (10-20$) a bottle. It definately sounds like what you're describing though.

Reply by ChipDWood, Jul 14, 2009.

Two quick suggestions:

1) Go Spanish, young man:

The Ercavio is a $13 bottle that acts like a $20, easy, and has all that you require plus a surprisingly lush, smokey sense of character to it that grows & blooms as it breaths. Spain: Where it's at. Cheap.

2) SOME of the Bordeaux has come down. Two picks, left-bank, claret style (which is my leaning) would be the 2003 Chateau Lilian Ladouys (St.- Estephe, around $40), and the 2005 Chateau Puy La Rose (Pauillac, $35)- which both give a great example of the terroir and varietal aspects of their appellations without busting bank. They both also reflect sound vintages for both estates, most definitely benefit and reward the patient (see: laying down or decanting)- and are worth the ticket for the ride.

They're impressive wines for the buck. Spain's still gottum beat though, IMHO, especially for value.

Reply by Ballstein, Jul 14, 2009.

Hey dannar,

It should be noted that most value-oriented Bordeaux is going to be Merlot driven with the higher-end bottlings reserved for Cabernet- dominated wines. I like the suggestion of easing yourself into old world wines with more modern expressions. Inevitably, warmer climate locales of the old world will suit these needs, such as the aforementioned Southern Italian and Spanish reds. Good luck.


Reply by VegasOenophile, Jul 25, 2009.

I'd say anything fro St. Estephe, they're pretty burly cab-driven bordeaux wines. I have had No 2 Lafon Rochet and that was a nice example. Mouton Cadet by the Rothschilds is a nice easy bordeaux for about $7-$11. Or a red from Graves, like Olivier...

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