Exorbitant prices for the top chateaux give a false impression that Bordeaux is out of reach for most wine consumers. But most Bordeaux is actually priced more down to earth and can be a terrific value, especially in strong vintages such as 2009 and 2010. So there’s a good reason to listen to vintage hype: Great vintages mean good wines can be found at all price ranges.
Chateau Larose-Trintaudon Cru Bourgeois 2009
2.5 Stars GREAT VALUE
Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux, France $23
This blend of 60 percent cabernet sauvignon and the rest merlot is textbook, and should be anyone’s introduction to Bordeaux. It features flavors of blackberry and plum, spiced with what Bordeaux lovers call “pencil shavings.” Yes, that sounds weird, but if you’ve ever felt a writer’s satisfaction honing a No. 2 to a fine point, you’ll know what I mean. Alcohol by volume: 13.7 percent.
Chateau la Cardonne Cru Bourgeois 2009
2-1/2 Stars GREAT VALUE
Medoc, Bordeaux, $20
Give this beauty some time to open up – by decanting two hours or so before dinner or even by “letting it breathe” on the counter for a few hours. This wine is rich and supple, ripe with soft tannins that grip your palate and lift the wine up, like a gymnast on a balance beam.
Chateau Cantelaudette 2010
1-1/2 Stars GREAT VALUE
Graves-de-Vayres, Bordeaux, France, $16
Bright red berry flavors and a nice balance of fruit and oak give this Bordeaux structure and balance. It’s nice enough to drink by itself but prefers to play with comfort foods such as burgers or even roast chicken. ABV: 13.5 percent.
(Wines are rated on a 3-star scale, with 1 star = Very Good, 2=Excellent, and 3=Exceptional. This is a subjective rating meant to convey my enthusiasm for the wine. If I recommend it, I believe it is a good wine for the price, whatever the rating. GREAT VALUE means the wine especially over-performs for its price.)