Surprisingly Affordable Wine Region: Bordeaux! #Winophiles

#Winophiles Need Affordable Wines Too
Our August meeting of our French Winophiles group has us digging around for good, affordable French wines.
Sure, some of the world’s most expensive wines come from France (I’m talking to you, Burgundy. And you, Bordeaux!), but there are also great values to be found if you know where to dig. Take a look further down in this post to see a bunch of great suggestions from my fellow French wine fans.

2016 en primeur Chateau Mouton Rothschild

OK, this is affordable Bordeaux if you happen to be Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. Otherwise, move on, nothing to see here.

Is Affordable Bordeaux an Oxymoron?
Some of the world’s most expensive wines come from Bordeaux.  It’s been that way since Thomas Jefferson’s time, and the famous classification of Bordeaux wines in 1855 was based on price, not on quality.  Bordeaux is a big region though. There are 7,375 winemaking chateau’s in Bourdeaux at a recent count. Sure, the top wines are so expensive, us mere mortals will be lucky to ever taste one. So what? Even if the top 1000 wineries in Bordeaux were expensive beyond reach, that would leave over 6000 wineries to explore, many of which are making affordable wines, and good ones at that.  I took “Affordable Bordeaux” as my challenge, and to be honest, it was all too easy.

A full range of affordable, under $20 Bordeaux wines

A selection of every major type of Bordeaux wine, and all were purchased locally for less than $20 per bottle. That’s affordable!

Sparkling Wine
We love starting a meal or gathering with sparkling wine, and there is a bit of Crémant made in Bordeaux, but we don’t see much in Minnesota. I was so excited to see it in a local shop I didn’t even notice it was labeled “demi-sec” which is sweeter than I would usually like. I needn’t have worried, this was a wonderful apéritif.

Bayle Carreau Cremant de Bordeaux Rose Demi-Sec ($17 at France 44)
Eye: Clear, bright salmon-orange with abundant fine mousse
Nose: Clean, fresh underripe strawberries, floral.
Mouth: Surprisingly dry considering it’s labeled demi-sec. Comes off as maybe dry or extra-dry. Fresh, fruity strawberries and underripe melon. A touch of mineral / bitter in the finish. I found it better as a before dinner apéritif rather than a dessert wine, it was sweet enough for a grilled peach and whipped cream, had the dessert been sweeter, it would have seemed too dry.
Merlot 80%, Cabernet Franc 20% – a normal Bordeaux blend, but unusual for sparkling wine, and what a color!

Bordeaux Blanc (Dry)
90% of wines in Bordeaux are red, but some very nice white wines are made as well. White Bordeaux wines are made from a combination of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle, and it’s pretty easy to find one for under $20.

Monsieur Touton Bordeaux Blanc AOC “Sauvignon” 2015 ($10 Sunfish Cellars)
Eye: Clear, pale lemon, just barely off-white.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity grapefruit & grass, and a bit floral.
Mouth: Dry, medium- body, medium+ acidity. Refreshing, lean and clean mouthfeel. Grapefruit and grass with a medium- length finish. All in all, leaner and drier as compared to a New World Sauvignon Blanc, and not as overtly grassy as a typical New Zealand wine. Easy to find under $20, this wine squeaks in at $10. Gluggable, we bought a case….

Bordeaux Rouge
Admittedly, you won’t find “affordable” from the fabled communities of Margaux, St. Julien, Pauillac, or Pomerol, but if you go just around the corner, or across the river, you can find some very nice wines that won’t break the bank.  Look for lesser communities, or larger sub-regions such as: Medoc, Haut-Medoc, Blaye, Côtes de Bordeaux, Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux.  You can also find great values in AOC wines in just adjacent communities such as Lussac St. Emilion.

Chateau Maison Blanche Medoc AOC Cru Bourgeois 2014 ($19.99 at France 44)
What a lucky find this was! The Medoc consists of land immediately next to some of the high rent communities like Margaux, but it doesn’t have quite the same great gravel as the famous neighbors. The Bouey Family owns several estates in the area and they are dedicated to producing wines reflecting their unique land. To that end, they have enlisted the help of Stéphane Derenencourt to help them in their quest. Because they don’t have the amount of gravel needed to guarantee ripe Cabernet Sauvignon, their wine is Merlot dominant, although it includes a hefty chunk of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. Finally, their wine is labeled “Cru Bourgeois”, which is a sign of quality in the Left Bank and one you rarely see at this price point.  If you see this wine, snap it up!

Eye: Clear, medium+ intensity, almost deep. Ruby center and dark out to a thin ruby rim. Legs are colored lightly.
Nose: Clean, deep ripe blackberries with stony graphite and mineral behind, a bit of eucalyptus or rosemary in the background.
Mouth: Bone dry, medium body, medium acidity, medium tannins. Nice deep blackberry flavor persists in a medium finish. Perfect with a casual Entrecôte (steak) frites.

Dessert Wine
Sauternes is a unique, sweet wine made in a very small region within the larger Bordeaux wine region. Sauternes wines are made from late harvested, shriveled (botrytis infected) grapes. The vineyard practices and winemaking are all much more labor intensive for Sauternes, so the wines are expensive to begin with. Luckily, a little Sauternes goes a long way, and 375ml (half) bottles are often available. And if you stay away from the super highly regarded wines (e.g. Chateau Y’quem), you can often find a nice example for $20 or less.  You can also look for wines labeled “Loupiac” which sits across the Dordogne river from Sauternes, it has a little less favorable conditions, and the wines are more affordable.

Chateau Tuyttens Sauternes AOC 2011 ($18 France 44)
Chateau Tuyttens is part of a family owned trio of estates by the name of Vignobles Philippe Mercadier. Philippe had been in charge of a Grand Cru Classé Sauternes Chateau for 25 years when it was sold. Philippe patiently acquired several smaller properties in the area, such was his deep love for Sauternes. These estates weren’t classified in 1855, so the wines don’t carry the premium, although they are made with equal attention to detail.

Eye: Clear, medium+ intensity, beautiful deep gold color.
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity, very ripe apricots, cantalope, white flowers,
Mouth: Sweet, rich body, luscious, medium+ acidity. lingering flavors of ripe cantaloupe, apricots, medium+ finish

Let’s Have Some Fun with a Casual Bordeaux Inspired Dinner
Since we acquired a full suite of Bordeaux wines, we decided to enjoy them all in a casual but classic Bordeaux oriented meal. Join us!  (click on any photo for a full size slide show, “escape” to return)

Other Affordable Choices as Presented by the French Winophiles
Plan to join our twitter chat (always fun) at 10:00 am CDT on Saturday, August 19th, 2017. Look for our hashtag #Winophiles and please join in. We love visitors!

Here is the slate:

Cooking to the Wine: Casa Rossa Rosé with Sardine & Roasted Zucchini Penne by Nicole at Somm’s Table

An Affordable Red and Tapenade, Languedoc-Style by Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Exploring the Languedoc with Domaine Magellan by Lauren at The Swirling Dervish 

4 French Wine Finds $20 and under with Croque Monsieur and Monte Cristo from Gwen from Wine Predator

Each day should be a celebration by Wendy from A Day In the Life on the Farm

Surprisingly Affordable Wine Region: Bordeaux! by Jeff at FoodWineClick!

My Favorite Under $20 Pet Nat; Patrice Colin “Les Perles Gris” by Martin at ENOFLYZ

Affordable French Wines Paired with Simple Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner by Jane at Always Ravenous

Two Bargains from Bordeaux and Bergerac by Lynn at Savor the Harvest

Mapping France in Wine Bottles: Where to Get Affordable French Wine by Jill at L’occasion

Surprise! Lots of Affordable Wines from Bordeaux www.foodwineclick.com

 

 

Comments
16 Responses to “Surprisingly Affordable Wine Region: Bordeaux! #Winophiles”
  1. Lynn says:

    I’m drawn in by your food (as always!), and also your selection of wine this month. Interesting to hear about Philippe Mercadier, love supporting the small folks and based on your review, he’s producing a fantastic Sauternes. It’s truly unbelievable the number of wineries in Bordeaux. Thanks for uncovering some affordable gems.

    • Thanks, Lynn. I suspect there’s more to the Mercadier story. His family owned Chateau Suduirat, but they sold in 1992. So much of the time there is a problem at generation change between siblings and inheritance taxes, it seems difficult to keep even historic properties. So they sell and start all over, a shame really.

  2. Again…what’s your address! Wow! An affordable Bordeaux and food pairing tour de force Jeff!

  3. What a spread! Everything looks great. I have quite a few <$20 wines from Bordeaux!

  4. Nice Bordeaux-centered meal! You’ve reminded me how much these wines have to offer and how affordable they can be. And I’m obsessed with that rosé sparkler!

  5. I have not tried a Crémant from Bordeaux, the Bayle Carreau looks beautiful with the unique color. Like you, always like to start things off with a little bubbly. AND your food looks heavenly!!!!

  6. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    So many wonderful options to try! The sparkling demi-sec with the grilled peaches really struck my fancy, as did that beautiful Tuyttens Sauternes. And I’m always down for oysters. I guess I’m just in love with the entire feast!

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