Wine Spectator - 11 Impressive Bordeaux Values New reviews of affordable reds and whites from Bordeaux - byJames Molesworth
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Tasting Highlights bring the best wines from our editors’ most recent tastings to WineSpectator.com members.
Bordeaux is the largest wine appellation in France, so if you go outside of the handful of storied names atop the prestige and price pyramid, you can find scads of excellent values. In the 2012 vintage, one that generally favored Merlot over Cabernet and the Right Bank over the Left for reds, some of the lesser-known appellations are fertile ground for tasty, ready-to-drink wines.
L'Etoile is a debut wine from François Thienpont, a well-respected négociant whose extended family owns and manages some of the Right Bank's glamour estates, including Châteaus Pavie Macquin and Vieux Château Certan. Thienpont is sourcing fruit from growers in Lalande-de-Pomerol, which neighbors better-known Pomerol. Thienpont's bottling from Manoir du Gravoux is also very tasty.
Both Les Cruzelles and Montlandrie are consistently delicious values from vigneron Denis Durantou, owner of L'Église Clinet in Pomerol. His wines brim with vivid raspberry fruit laced with enticing spice notes, but don’t rely on an overabundance of toasty oak.
Château Marsau is another value being produced from vineyards located out in the hinterlands of the Côtes de Francs. The home estate of négociant Mathieu Chadronnier is quietly putting together a very steady track record.
Here are 11 recently tasted Bordeaux wines, including a tasty white, providing great value. For more on the 2012 vintage, keep an eye out for my annual report in the upcoming March 31 issue of Wine Spectator.
L’ETOILE Lalande-de-Pomerol 2012 Score: 90 | $29
This has a lovely, fleshy feel, with dark raspberry and boysenberry fruit, laced with smoldering tobacco and backed by a lingering dark licorice note. Shows good depth for the vintage, and is nicely refined. Drink now through 2017. 300 cases imported.—J.M.
CHÂTEAU LES CRUZELLES Lalande-de-Pomerol 2012 Score: 89 | $25
Tasty, with dark, macerated plum and blackberry fruit studded with a light anise note that adds lift to the lightly smoky finish. A toasted style, but refined, with the fruit holding sway from start to finish. Drink now through 2017. 1,416cases made.—J.M.
CHÂTEAU MANOIR DU GRAVOUX Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux La Violette du Manoir 2012 Score: 89 | $24
Plush-edged plum sauce and blackberry coulis flavors glide along here, laced with subtle anise and charcoal hints. A toasty backdrop on the finish adds weight without being cumbersome. Drink now through 2017. 900 cases made.—J.M.
CHÂTEAU MONTLANDRIE Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux 2012 Score: 89 | $21
Solid, with a brambly spine driving the dark plum and raspberry fruit flavors along, while licorice snap and fruitcake notes fill in on the finish. Shows a judicious hint of roasted apple wood. Drink now through 2017. 2,500 cases made.—J.M.
CHÂTEAU LES CHARMES-GODARD Francs Côtes de Bordeaux White 2013 Score: 88 | $24
This has crunchy edges, with white peach, chamomile, straw and quinine notes forming the core. The lively finish lets a fleur de sel accent linger. Drink now. 850 cases made.—J.M.
CHÂTEAU MANOIR DU GRAVOUX Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux F. Thienpont 2012 Score: 88 | $18
A ripe, juicy style, with lots of raspberry, plum and boysenberry coulis flavors pumping along, carried by a nice anise thread and extending through the herb-tinged finish. Fresh acidity lets the fruit play out without becoming bombastic. Drink now through 2017. 3,500 cases made.—J.M.
CHÂTEAU MARSAU Francs Côtes de Bordeaux 2012 Score: 88 | $23
Sleek, with good cut and underlying iron notes carrying pure red currant and black cherry fruit. A backdrop of singed cedar and tobacco leaf emerges on the finish. Not big, but pure and fresh. Drink now. 300 cases imported.—J.M.
CHÂTEAU PUYGUERAUD Francs Côtes de Bordeaux 2012 Score: 88 | $18
Bright, with a lively mix of pepper, anise, tobacco, black cherry and mulled black currant flavors that mesh nicely through the medium-weight finish. Drink now through 2016. 10,250 cases made.—J.M.
CHÂTEAU ALCÉE Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux 2012 Score: 87 | $16
A ripe, fruit-driven style, with plum and boysenberry notes lined with a hint of warm fruitcake. The open, fresh, accessible finish is kept honest by a light anise twinge. Drink now. 900 cases made.—J.M.
CHÂTEAU LA PRADE Francs Côtes de Bordeaux 2012 Score: 87 | $20
A sleek version, with damson plum and cherry fruit laced with lightly chalky structure and carrying through a cedar-edged finish. Drink now. 2,200 cases made.—J.M.
CHÂTEAU ROQUES DE JEAN LICE Bordeaux Supérieur Cuvée F. Thienpont 2012 Score: 87 | $16
A gutsy version, with briary edges around a core of steeped plum and black currant fruit, showing a nice tobacco lining on the finish. Lacks range, but is solidly built. Drink now. 3,000 cases made.—J.M.