Bordeaux red wines aren’t cheap. You can pay $900 a bottle or more for a recent-vintage Domaine de la Romanée-Conti or Château Lafite-Rothschild.
No surprise — these are some of the world’s finest wines. Unfortunately, most of us are priced out of tasting them, even once in a lifetime. It’s why I always advise young hedonists to make friends with someone who owns a boat and someone who has a fabulous wine cellar.
French producers are aware of this, and lately are launching ad campaigns making us aware of Bordeaux wines that are lower in price, more accessible.
One group of red Bordeaux wines offering good value for price these days are those classified as cru bourgeois. These traditional Bordeaux blends — with an average price of about $25 a bottle — are called “Left Bank” wines because they’re produced on the west and south side of the Garonne and Gironde rivers in Bordeaux.
Red Bordeaux wines can include cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, cabernet franc and petit verdot grapes. But Left Bank wines emphasize cabernet sauvignon, while Right Bank wines feature merlot. Cru bourgeois wines are reviewed and tasted blind by professional tasters before being sold.
Other, affordable, less-powerful red wines are labeled simply “Bordeaux AOC,” meaning they can come from anywhere in the 62-square-mile Bordeaux region. They are fruity and ready to drink young.
One advantage to the more affordable Bordeaux red wines is that they are lighter and less tannic, ready to drink earlier, while the top Bordeaux can need up to 10 years of age before they are entirely accessible.
These wine reds go well with white meats such as roast or grilled chicken or pork, or ham, or cheese as well as light red meat dishes such as meatloaf.
So while most of us won’t be drinking a $900 red Bordeaux with our $95, two-pound Wagyu Longbone Steak at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House in Manhattan anytime soon, most of us won’t be arriving in a $180,000 Bentley Continental GT, either.
C’est la vie.
2011 Château Maurac Haut-Medoc, Cru Bourgeois: hint of oak, lush and ripe, with sweet fruit flavors, anise and mint, smooth finish, ripe tannins; $28.
2012 Baron Philippe de Rothschild Mouton Cadet Red, AOC Bordeaux (65 percent merlot, 20 percent cabernet sauvignon, 15 percent cabernet franc): hint of smoky oak, aromas and flavors of black raspberries and black coffee, light body, crisp, soft tannins; $12.
2011 Château Aney, Haut Médoc, Cru Bourgeois (65 percent cabernet sauvignon, 25 percent merlot, 7 percent cabernet franc, 3 percent petit verdot): hint of oak, aromas and flavors of black plums, espresso and earth, ripe tannins; $24.
2010 Château Tour Saint Joseph, Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois, Bordeaux (50 percent merlot, 45 percent cabernet sauvignon, 5 percent cabernet franc): hint of oak, powerful flavors of black cherries and black peppers, ripe tannins; $25.
2012 Château Magnol, Haut-Médoc, Cru Bourgeois (48 percent merlot, 40 percent cabernet sauvignon, 12 percent cabernet franc): toasty oak, aromas and flavors of red raspberries and cloves; long finish; $25.
2010 Chateau Le Boscq Cru Bourgeois Médoc, Red Bordeaux (62 percent cabernet sauvignon, 26 percent merlot, 7 percent cabernet franc, 5 percent petit verdot): hint of oak, aromas and flavors of black cherries and black pepper, medium body, soft tannins; $22.
2009 Château Liversan Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois (50 percent merlot, 44 percent cabernet sauvignon, 4 percent cabernet franc, 2 percent petit verdot): hint of oak, aromas and flavors of red plums, espresso and spice, firm tannins; $19.
2011 Vignobles Andre Lurton Chateau Bonnet Red Bordeaux (50 percent cabernet sauvignon, 50 percent merlot): hint of oak, light-bodied, aromas and flavors of black cherries and black coffee, soft tannins; $13.
2012 Downton Abbey Bordeaux Claret, AOC Bordeaux (70 percent merlot, 25 percent cabernet sauvignon, 5 percent malbec): floral aromas, flavors of black raspberries and cloves, smooth and ripe, long finish; $17.