Looking for value in Bordeaux
Published by Marie-Lou Galiana on 24/09/2019
Bordeaux is not often the first name that comes to mind when talking about value wines. However, this is only because less known appellations are not exported as widely as the big names. Everybody’s heard of Pauillac, Pomerol, Saint-Emilion and other famous wine regions of Bordeaux… But what about the unheard-of appellations? They remain unfamiliar territory for most of us.
To put it in simple words: each famous region of Bordeaux has a neighbouring appellation where you will find amazing value wines! Being born and raised in Bordeaux, I’ll take you on a trip through the South West of France and explore what else this beautiful region has to offer.
Cote de Bourg is the first region we’re going to have a look at. Often overlooked, and home of a lot of great wines. It was actually one of the first wine producing regions in France, due to its location next to the river, which made access to shipping very easy.
Cote de Bourg is typically dominated by Merlot and is one of the only Bordeaux areas still to use Malbec in their blends. Expect wines full of juicy dark berries and a bit of a spicy kick to them thanks to the Malbec.
They are incredibly popular amongst Bordeaux locals (and I can personally vouch for this, my favourite unplanned-evening-with-friends kind of wine) usually quite juicy and fresh, perfect when you crave a wine that has style but not too heavy to drink by itself or with light snacks. It is the perfect ‘Apéro’ red in fact!
Our pick - Chateau Falfas - A dense but elegant wine with great structure and fruit concentration. The dark berry aromas are followed by soft wooden and tobacco notes on the palate.
This is a family favourite. For as long as I can remember, there was always a bottle of Lalande de Pomerol on the table for any family reunions we had. A wine that brings people together (and never seems to run out from my grandad’s cellar!)
An appellation that only exists since 1954. You will find some famous Domaines from Pomerol producing their 2nd wine in Lalande de Pomerol which will therefore be more affordable. The soils are slightly different to the ones in Pomerol, but the most planted grape remains Merlot. It is only a small region that was once part of the Pomerol appellation hence benefits from the similar terroir and climate. It produces softer reds, with a lot of elegance and purity.
If you’re in the mood for a treat but it is only a Tuesday night, then Lalande de Pomerol is what you should look for.
Our pick - Chateau de Chambrun - red fruits and plum flavours are layered with cocoa notes and a hint of spice. A seriously good wine that is firmly structured and can age in bottle.
The smallest of all appellations in the Medoc. It sits in between Margaux and Saint-Julien and is home of the best reds in the great value category. It benefits from a variety of soils that complement each other and allows the region to grow both Merlot and Cabernet successfully, even though the wines from the region tend to be Cabernet Sauvignon dominant.
If you’re a lover of big powerful reds like I am, and a Left-bank aficionado in general, try the wines from Moulis, you won’t be disappointed! Just as full bodied as its famous neighbouring appellations and will reach their full potential usually after 7-10 years in bottle.
My personal favourite food match for Moulis wines: Duck magret on the BBQ and a Roquefort sauce. So delicious!
Our pick - Chateau Mauvesin Barton - cranberry, blackcurrant and cedar. A hint of smoke and polished tannins, this wine has depth and character.
Now these are probably the most commonly found on every wine shop shelves in Bordeaux. And the locals (I include myself in this) know that those wines are incredible value for the quality they offer. Lucky for us, they have made their way to the English market now and are not kept a secret anymore!
Just like in Saint-Emilion, the dominant grape here is Merlot. Their difference in style comes mostly from the slightly cooler climate. Generally, you can expect full bodied but very mellow reds, with flavours of plums, prunes and leather.
Some really outstanding wines are produced in that region. They are the perfect alternative; you’ll be astonished by the elegance and perfumed character typical of the region.
Our pick - Chateau Lyonnat - Deep cherry flavours, prunes and dark chocolate. A hint of mint on the palate and fresh vibrant acidity to contrast with the velvety texture.
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