I am a complete novice to Bordeaux. I had a few friends over for some steak over the weekend and one of them brought a $12.00 Bordeaux - 2019 La Rose de Virtrac - from the Total Wine at the retail level of my apartment complex. I was expecting a harsh, green wine. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It took a four hour decant to open up, but when it did, it was supple with brambly fruit, violets, and subtle earth and graphite notes, and a shockingly resonant finish. Is this indicative of Bordeaux at this price or did a good vintage just lift all tides? I don’t think I have ever tasted a red wine at this price point that was of such quality. Could find almost no information about this wine or estate online.
As someone who was recently in the same boat, I would call it a “gateway” wine, though the vintage certainly helps. It’s a wine that opens your eyes to a style and makes you wonder how high it goes. Unfortunately for the cash-strapped novices, the peak of Bordeaux is pretty high. Not Everest high (Burgundy) or K2 difficulty (probably also Burgundy), but certainly up there.
I recall mine in 2017:
2010 Chateau Larose-Trintaudon Haut-Medoc Cru Bourgeois
I immediately went out and blindly bought a bunch of random Bordeaux in the $20-50 price range and 2013-2015 vintages, knowing nothing about the vintages, appellations, or Chateaux. No regrets, it’s what got me “into” wine.
Green Bordeaux in the 2000’s? Harsh (tannins)?
I wish there still were Bordeaux wines that had firm tannins and showed any herbaceous qualities. Haven’t seen one in a long time.
So, yes, definitely indicative of contemporary Bordeaux. The more expensive bottles can have impressive tannic structures, but can’t remember a Bordeaux that had noticeable greenness that wasn’t from the 1990’s or older.
You started with a perfect example! By coincidence I opened one last night - at peak but with plenty of time left. L-T is one of my bankers, which I buy almost every year. Excellent value and very reliable, better than many CCs at a fraction of their prices.
I’d never heard of it so I looked it up - in fact there was a slight spelling mistake:
It’s one of a myriad of similar domains, producing generic wines like this one - they seem to be based in Entre-Deux-Mers. Often they do indeed provide great value, but vintages do play a role at this level.
Money does make a difference and especially with non classified wines. The difference between a $30 and $50 wine can be very small, or inexistent, whereas there is usually a big difference between a $12 and a $20 wine. For example, the previously mentioned Larose-Trintaudon, costing around $20, will give you really quite a classy drink for only a little more. There are lots of alternatives which I’m sure have been mentioned in other threads.
Pichon Lalande still has a slightly green profile, although muted. Ditto Sociando Mallet. Most of the wines I loved for that green edge have gone for ripeness, including Figeac. Not necessarily a poorer wine, but some of the tension from more angular tannins has been lost.
Scott, to try to answer your specific questions: In general, inexpensive red Bordeaux is a great place to look for bargains, regardless of vintage. It may be unusual to find a great bargain at $12, but there are lots of good bottles for less than $20. Look, for instance, at the wines of Cotes de Castillon – Chateau Joanin Becot, Chateau d’Aiguilhe, Chateau Ampelia, Chateau Cote Montpezat (roughly in order of preference) are all excellent and all less than $20 in recent vintages.
There are 4,000 producers in the Bordeaux appellation alone – that’s the lowest category in the appellation hierarchy – and there are many overperformers in that crowd. Obviously, it is very difficult to navigate, but a good wine store will do a lot of the hard work for you. (If you are near Boston, note that the Wine Cask in Somerville is a shop that cares about inexpensive Bordeaux.)
Thanks, Ted. I was able to procure four different vintages of the Becot today, starting with the 2014 vintage. Looking forward to a little exploration.
Interesting thread. I was a tad confused by the title “value” vs the thread mainly dealing with inexpensive. Value can be had at all price points I think, eg Ch Batailley rewards the patient, it’s a long haul wine, and is a VG value in its bracket. So many others.
Def agree that inexpensive Bordeaux is often a delight for those seeking balanced, refreshing wines to go with lunch or mid week dinner. I pray it continues to stay out of the limelight.
Take a look at @William_Kelley 's latest report on Bordeaux. There are a number of highly regarded (both in terms of scores and verbiage) wines that can be had for well south of $50.
I haven’t had many at all. But I have really liked the Les Griffons de Pichon baron 16 and 18 for 50 bucks.
For a pretty good thread on less expensive Bordeaux (although one that is several years old), see Tasting of Wines from the Crus Bourgeois du Medoc - WINE TALK - WineBerserkers
I just bought 2007 Lanessan from K&L from $18. Values abound, just ignore the vintage and buy freely. You’ll find both duds and gems and will learn a lot.
My favorite value Bordeaux are Senejac, Lanessan, Lillian Ladouys, and Cambon Pelouse. All in the $20 range.
Bought some 2008 Cantermerle last week - really good and well priced in our market.
I had a 2009 Castegens last night - a wine that in its current vintage is retailing for $14.95. I can’t say I enjoyed it that much. It was overly extracted and heavy on prune flavors, for my palate, but was objectively a good wine with what I assume is a long life ahead of it. I’m fascinated by how age worthy even the most entry level wines are.