Wines from France’s famous Bordeaux region have a reputation for being pretty expensive. And it’s often true.
Chateau Cheval-Blanc, for example, is one of the world’s finest wines, but it’ll set you back $700 or more a bottle.
Less well known is the fact that Bordeaux also produces some very nice inexpensive wines as well. And with its customer countries’ economies still struggling, the region is making new efforts to let people know about them.
Did you know you can buy a bottle of Mission St. Vincent Bordeaux Rouge, light-bodied but chock with flavors of red berries and vanilla, for $7? And a Clarendelle Bordeaux Rouge with flavors of cassis and earth and a bit of complexity, for $19?
These are not First Growth wines, not famous chateaux. Many of them are labeled simply “Bordeaux,” meaning they might come from any of the 10,000 chateaux, putting out 700 million bottles a year from the 520 square miles that make up that region southwest of Paris.
These are pleasant wines, ready to drink when purchased, probably not benefiting from more than a year or two of cellar aging. They won’t pucker you up with monster tannins and acids. But they’re crisp enough to go well with food — burgers, lasagna, pizza, meat loaf, roast chicken and such.
And, if you need to impress your friends, consider that the labels look nearly as fancy as those from the region’s most expensive wines.
But you don’t care about that sort of thing.
• 2007 Clarendelle Bordeaux Rouge, Bordeaux (57 percent merlot, 33 percent cabernet sauvignon, 10 percent cabernet franc): floral aroma, powerful spicy cassis and earth flavors, firm tannins and acids, smooth finish; $19.
• 2011 Chateau Bonnet Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon-Muscadelle, Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux (50 percent sauvignon blanc, 40 percent Semillon, 10 percent muscadelle): lemon-lime aromas, grapefruit flavors, creamy, long finish; $13.
• 2010 Chateau Bois Noir Grand Vin Rouge de Bordeaux, Bordeaux Superieur (80 percent merlot, 20 percent cabernet sauvignon): deep purple color, light body, aromas and flavors of black cherries and black pepper; $9.
• 2009 Chateau de Beauregard-Ducourt Bordeaux Rouge, Bordeaux (80 percent merlot, 20 percent cabernet sauvignon): hint of oak, spicy cassis flavors, light body; $13.
• 2010 Chateau Pierrail Bordeaux Superieur Rouge, Bordeaux (85 percent merlot, 15 percent cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc): firm tannins, black plum and coffee flavors, light body; $16.
• 2010 Mission St. Vincent Bordeaux Rouge, Bordeaux (70 percent merlot, 20 percent cabernet sauvignon, 10 percent cabernet franc): aromas of red fruit and oak, flavors of vanilla and earth, smooth, light body; $7.
• 2009 Chateau Le Grand Verdus Grand Reserve Bordeaux Superieur Rouge, Bordeaux (65 percent merlot, 25 percent cabernet sauvignon, 10 percent cabernet franc): soft and round, with aromas and flavors of black plums, anise and spice; $15.
• 2010 Chateau Roquefort Bordeaux Rouge, Bordeaux (90 percent merlot, 10 percent cabernet sauvignon): aromas and flavors of black cherries and black pepper, medium body, smooth; $8.
• 2011 Dourthe La Grande Cuvee Blanc, Bordeaux (100 percent sauvignon blanc): light and lively, with rich green grass and flint flavors; $15.
Fred Tasker has retired from the Miami Herald but is still writing about wine. He can be reached at email@example.com.