Bordeaux on the Table or Under the Tree for $65 or Less
Whether you need to shop for your table or for under your tree, Bordeaux will impress. There’s a sad misperception that Bordeaux is either utterly unaffordable or really, really bad. It’s true that most of us don’t buy much of super fancy stuff these days as their prices are, indeed, dizzyingly high. However, even in difficult vintages, Bordeaux – like the rest of the world – generally makes darn good wine today.
Still, it’s the time of year to put your best foot forward, so here are some ideas from the terrific 2010 vintage that are all village level wines, yet that cost $65 or less. They will all hold well for several years to come, but they are all drinking well now, too.
Château Graves de Pez 2010 Saint-Estèphe 13.5% $40
This savory wine has a reserved nose yet a deeply rich palate packed with boysenberries, tart cherries and blueberries. With air and time, charcoal and charred campfire wood work to the surface, too. It’s a fairly weighty wine with gentle tannins and middling acidity. The finish is modest, but the wine works well with hearty, bistro-esque dishes. This is a pleasantly chewy combo of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot whose highly integrated wood use makes this a very accessible and food-friendly wine.
Château Les Ormes 2010 Saint-Julien 13.5% $60
Deeply colored, this fresh-scented wine smells of coffee, spice rack and black currants. Youthful blackberries and black cherries dance across the palate and are accented by smoky charcoal and charred fireplace wood. The substantial but not heavy mid-palate provides a delightfully creamy texture balanced by drying, steeped tea-like tannins. Crunchy, lively acidity pulls the complex array of flavors into a medium finish. Smartly clean yet packed with character, this is archetypal Saint-Julien with its offer of a bit of each of the predominant features of all the major Médoc villages.
Château Ségur de Cabanac 2010 Saint-Estèphe 13.5% $55
This is a classically styled Bordeaux rouge. Its nose tempts with cedar, spice rack, fallen autumn leaves and peat, and its palate tastes of red cherries, mulberries and raw black currants. It becomes more expressive as it opens up, so take your time and savor each sip. The wine’s layered complexity unfolds into a moderate finish with a lightly tugging texture all the way through. A mix of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, this is a very fine value that is easy to throw back and yet pairs easily with a wide array of foods.
Château Chantelune 2010 Margaux 13.5% $55
This wine has a dynamic, rough-and-tumble bouquet packed with forest berries, licorice and peat bricks. Medium-plus in body, it has plenty of oomph on the palate without feeling too weighty. It has creamy tannins, low-impact acidity and a light mouthcoating texture that lingers on the palate on the moderate finish. I love the modern label with the dog howling at the moon (a reference to “Chantelune”, meaning singing or howling at the moon.) It’s a highly atypical Bordelais vibe for this 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot blend.
Château Moulin de la Rose 2010 Saint-Julien 13.5% $65
This wine’s impressive black currant nose cues in the Cabernet Sauvignon lovers. Its lifted and forward aromas are beguiling. There are rose petals, black currants and a whiff of tobacco. The rather mild tannins are moderately dusty and leave the palate just a touch dry, making the wine perfectly suited for the table. Interestingly, this château is one of the few in Saint-Julien that isn’t a classified property. Nonetheless, it is unmistakably delicious. It has a nicely deep and richly youthful color, charasmatic aromatics and a well-balanced palate to make it highly drinkable.