Bordeaux Wines That Won’t Break The Bank

Arianna & Jess tasted Bordeaux wines for the first time at the BevMo 100th Store Mega-Tasting in Rolling Hills Estates. At this type of event (a large mixed-beverage tasting at a “big box” store) it’s unusual to encounter a real wine experience. But to BevMo’s credit they lined up 100 2007 Bordeaux’s for tasting, and brought in the owners from many of the wineries to introduce the BevMo customer to Old World winemaking and wine-drinking. It seemed a strange juxtaposition (elegant wines poured by elegant French people in a SoCal parking lot), but in the end, we tasted a wide spectrum of 2007 Bordeaux wines across a broad price range and now we feel a little less intimidated by French wine in general and by Bordeaux specifically.

Jessyca’s ignorance of wines from outside of California has been discussed before, so the following revelations should not be interpreted as wine snobbery, but rather sharing what she learned…

1. Bordeaux is not a grape. While most people who drink wine know this, Jessyca did not. Or at least not officially. Grapes grown in the Bordeaux wine region of France are predominantly Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Side note: Similarly, Chateau Neuf-du-Pape is not a winery, but also a wine region in France. Not all Chateau Neuf-du-Pape wines are worth the reputation.

2. They like to mix their grapes in Bordeaux. Most Bordeaux wines that we tasted were primarily Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, but nearly all were blends of 3 or four different varietals.

3. French people aren’t all snobby. The manager at BevMo found it important to tell us how unusual and special it is that this level of wine proprietors would be present at such an event, much less doing the pouring. I found the proprietors to be charming, patient, and knowledgeable. One even spent several minutes teaching Jess how to pronounce Pouilly-Fuisse and Pauillac. They were eager to expose the American consumers to their wines and had much better attitudes about the heat and crowds than the other winery owners present at the event.

World famous for some of the oldest and highest regarded wines on the planet, Bordeaux wines are full-bodied, rich and delicious. The wines we listed here are a great value and will age beautifully for the next 5 – 10+ years.

2007 Chateau La Chenade, Lalande de Pomerol. $16 – $20

Bright, dark red. This wine smells of strawberry and is a little firm on tannin. This is a value price for a wine from the Bordeaux region, and while rich and delicious, it tastes “younger” and “greener” than some of the others on this list. However, La Chenade is a good place to start and will improve (although not a ton), by aging.

Drink by 2015

70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc.

Jessyca really enjoyed this wine and after tasting 12 different Bordeaux wines, feels this one in particular is of good value. It also says something interesting about the power of winemaking because she’s not a fan of Merlot.

2007 Chateau Chasse-Spleen, Moulis-en-Médoc. $25 – $35

Although the property’s history dates back to 1560, it is likely that the vines from which these grapes descended are much, much older. The vineyard is widely held in high esteem, despite being one of the smallest producers in the area.

Deep red. Tastes of dark fruit, minerals and chocolate. This is an excellent wine at an excellent price. Drink now until 2025.

73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot.

2007 Chateau d’Issan, Margaux Bordeaux. $35 – $45

Dating from the 15th century (and possibly even the 12th), Château d’Issan is located in Margaux, 30 minutes’ drive from Bordeaux. The chateau is still surrounded by a moat, and is frequently described as the most romantic in the Medoc appellation.

Mild at first with a strong finish, this lighter-colored red is fruity on the nose, with a nice, full structure and hints of tobacco.

70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot.

2007 Brane Cantenac, 2nd Grand Cru Classé, Margaux. $35 – $50

A Bordeaux blend middleweight, this is a softer, more “feminine” wine. Well crafted, earthy, with tastes of chocolate, strawberries, and raspberries. This isn’t one to age for long, but it’s an excellent value.

As a less robust wine, this might be a good choice for those who are just beginning to dabble in Bordeaux.

Drink now until 2015.

53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc.

Another of Jess’ favorites from the group–this was a smooth, flavorful wine that was pleasant in the mouth and had a long, enjoyable finish.

Duluc Ducru Dulicious

Duluc Ducru Dulicious

Chateau Branaire Duluc-Ducru, St. Julien. $40 – $55

Oak-y, earthy, fruity and balanced. Nicely integrated tannins. Hints of mocha, blackberries and violets. 2007 was not a great year for the region, but this shows a delicious fruitiness for the vintage. Very nice finish. This one is a good choice for the holidays, and should definitely be a crowd pleaser. Drink now until 2017.

63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc.

At GrapeSmart we like to talk about how you can get more value out of your wine purchases, but sometimes we want to share wine experiences that defy the “Under $25” ethos and extend into the “If I had a million dollars” dreamscape…

The Tale of the Two Longueville Wineries – And Bordeaux Futures
(by Jessyca)

Those in-the-know went straight for the uber-expensive Bordeaux wines (and in retrospect, we should have done this, too) because these were only futures not yet available for purchase.

All day long people were talking of terroir, a concept that has much deeper meaning in France than it does in California. When the following two wines were poured, an explanation included that these two wineries are right across the street from one another so that they should have much in common with one another, and also, the particular area of Longueville in Pauillac is desirable, so the wines are higher-priced.

The 2007 Chateau Pichon Lalande ($100 – $120) and the 2007 Chateau Pichon Baron ($90 – $115) could not have been more different. The Lalande is 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Easily one of the best wines I’ve ever tasted, smooth and luscious. It was easy to see what winemakers the world over are trying to achieve when I had the opportunity to taste such deliciousness. The Baron on the other hand, 74% Cabernet Sauvignon and 26% Merlot, was more acidic and less special. It felt extraordinarily overpriced, especially in comparison to the Lalande.

This experience really solidified for me the importance of winemaking in the whole process, and rather downplayed the terroir impact. These wines shared little other than their name and their price tag. Ultimately only you can say if a wine is good or bad for you. You just have to try a lot to know what you like and what you don’t.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that K&L Merchants has a MUCH better price on these two wines than BevMo is offering which suggests that perhaps when you want premium wines, it still pays to shop around before you buy.

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Wine Tasting Trips

2 Responses to Bordeaux Wines That Won’t Break The Bank

  1. Richard

    I was browsing the web to get information on 2006 Bordeaux and came across your site. We were at the same 100th store party and what a party it was. I tasted many wines that day, but the Bordeaux was my favorite, particularly the Brane Cantenac. I was enjoying it so much I kept telling friends passing by the table that they had to try it. The French people that were pouring had to leave to catch a plane to Paris and they said since I liked the wine so much, they gave me a bottle. I shared this with other wine club members along with a companion bottle that had been given to me by Jeff who was then store manager. Everyone agreed that it was exceptional and what we found interesting was there was no vintage date to be found on the label or cork. It makes me wonder that it might have been an older wine, as it was so drinkable at the time, or perhaps a blend of vintages. Regardless, it was fabulouse and the BevMo party was lots of fun.

  2. Arianna Armstrong

    Hi Richard and thanks for your comment. I love that we were both there that day.

    I think you’re right that it was an older wine if the vintage wasn’t on the cork. Brane-Cantenac is great stuff; you’re lucky to have had an older one!

Add a Comment