|A storm gathers over vineyards in Bordeaux. Credit: Vins de Bordeaux|
About a decade ago, when I was a struggling newspaper reporter with a flashy new ID to purchase wine and a measly budget with which to purchase it, I cut my teeth on inexpensive Bordeaux. These wines didn’t need years in the cellar (which I didn’t have) — these were cheap, zesty Sauv Blancs for salads and fish and fresh and Merlot-tinged reds for everything else. I found a lot of fun wines, but even as a wine newb, I was turned off by some of the acidic, weak, and stemmy wines. Flash forward to today, and I think it’s fair to say the overall quality of entry-level Bordeaux has made an impressive leap.
While I still taste some wines I’d much rather avoid, those wines seem fewer and farther between. There is plenty of juicy and fresh blanc and rouge out there. If you’re dropping cash on some grand vin from a respected Chateau, it’s probably a good idea to give your palate a primer on the vintage. 2013 is widely disparaged as a vintage, but some of the wines have a fresh and tangy, early-drinking presence that I find attractive. And the 2014s are overshadowed by the hype of 2015, there are some really good wines that you may be able to snag for less. And wines from less prestigious appellations can give you an idea on what to expect from the serious stuff.
A few weeks ago I pointed out a few bargain-heavy, tasty, accessible Bordeaux reds from the Cotes de Bordeaux appellations. I’m back this week with a case of Bordeaux (white, red and sweet) from Vins de Bordeaux, the region’s trade group.
These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.
2015 Château du Champ des Treilles Vin de Passion - France, Bordeaux, Entre-Deux-Mers, Sainte Foy Bordeaux
Medium yellow color. Smells of sea breeze, chalk and nettle on top of orange and lime peels. Medium-bodied, tart and bright but some slight creaminess to the mouthfeel. Tart lime, kiwis, oranges, topped in honey, saline and chalk dusty. Bright, balanced and exciting for the money. Equal parts Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle grown in clay soils of the Sainte-Foy commune. (87 points)
2014 Château Marjosse Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Entre-Deux-Mers
Medium yellow color. Aromas of pineapple and kiwi, lemongrass, chalk and honeycomb. Medium-bodied with a bright and crisp appeal but some slightly creamy texture, too. Lemongrass, white pepper, sea salt and tonic water flavors on top of grapefruit, lemon and pineapple. A slight note of minerals on the finish. Not too deep or complex but very nice and fresh for the money. 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon, 15% Sauvignon Gris and 5% Muscadelle. (86 points)
2014 Clos des Lunes Lune Blanche - France, Bordeaux
Pale yellow color. Aromas of lemon curd, lime peel, pineapple, some cut grass and nettle. Tangy acidity on the palate with a moderately creamy palate. Tart limes and apples mixes with pineapple slices, and the fruit is topped in white pepper, lemongrass and mountain stream-style minerals. A bit tart, almost bracing, but very tasty and vibrant. 70% Semillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc aged six months on the lees. (87 points)
2014 Château Les Charmes-Godard Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Bordeaux Côtes de Francs
Light yellow color. Really fresh and juicy aromas with a tropical blast of papaya and peach with some lime zest, sea salt and honeycomb. Creamy texture on the palate but precise acidity balances it out. Plump melon and peach meet tart lime, lots of crust sea salt and mineral flavors, too, with a well-blended honey and cream element. Quite complex but so fresh, I’m interested to see this in a few years, but it’s very good now. 65% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Gris and 15% Muscadelle, feremented and aged in 1/3 new oak. (89 points)
2013 Château de Cérons Graves - France, Bordeaux, Graves
Rich yellow color; Juicy aromatics of white peach, papaya and apricot, with lots of chalk dust, white pepper, floral perfume and honeyed tea. Plump texture on the palate but vibrant, lip-smacking acidity, and the balance is on point. Juicy white peaches, lime drizzled on papaya, the fruit is very pretty and laced with notes of green tea, honey, chalk dust, clover and mineral. Complexity is impressive but it’s so delicious and easygoing at the same time. 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon, 10% Sauvignon Gris. (90 points)
2010 Château de Reignac - France, Bordeaux, Bordeaux Supérieur
Deep purple color. Very concentrated, takes a long time to coax out aromas of black currant doused in pine needles, cedar, loamy soil and dark roast coffee. Full-bodied (14.5%), tight grip, medium-low acidity, this shows compact structure. Black currant, dark plums, dense fruit with tart, smoke, charcoal, pencil lead and loamy soil. Needs time but solid stuff. 75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% of the grapes spend time in new oak. (88 points)
2011 Château La Grave (Paul Barre) - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Fronsac
Rich, dark ruby color. Aromas of spicy red cherries, darker plums, graphite, tobacco, grilled rosemary and leather — the aromas get quite complex with air. Medium/full-bodied with sturdy tannic grip and bright acidity. Juicy black cherries and tart plum flavors, laced with smoky herbs, loamy soil, charcoal, leather. Tart but not lean. Some serious development potential for the cellar. Merlot with 36% Cabernet Franc and 8% Malbec. (88 points)
2012 Château Mauvesin Barton - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Moulis en Médoc
Vibrant purple color. Aromas of spicy green and black pepper, spice rub, leather and eucalyptus on top of bright red and black currants. Medium-bodied with some moderate grip to tannins and medium acidity, and it’s balanced quite nicely in a smooth package. Juicy black currants and cherries topped in spicy tobacco, black pepper, oregano, and the cedar and cigar box notes blend in very nicely. Still plenty of life ahead. 48% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, aged 12 months in 1/3 new oak. (87 points)
2012 Clos du Jaugueyron Haut-Médoc - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
Vibrant purple color. Aromas of tart black currants and cherries, plum pits, some leather and incense sticks. Medium-strength tannins on a medium-bodied frame, bright acidity. Tart but well-ripened fruit (black cherry, plum), with a complex dose of bell pepper, leather, anise, black tea and cedar shavings. Solid structure but it opens up nicely. One of the most “serious” Bordeauxs in the tasting, and I think it’s worth holding onto for two to five years to see what happens. 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, aged 12 months in 25% new oak. (88 points)
2014 Château Tire Pé DieM - France, Bordeaux
Bright purple color. Deep black cherry and rich plum aromas along with coffee, sweet herbs, cedar and pencil shavings. Tart but structured with dusty tannins. Black cherry and tart red and black currant fruit blend well with coffee grounds, charcoal and spicy tobacco. Pretty but quite structured, I think this could stand a few years of sleep. 100% Merlot, aged eight to 10 months in concrete. (87 points)
2013 Clos Puy Arnaud La Cuvée Bistrot - France, Bordeaux
Pale ruby color. Smells of tart cherries, pomegranate and rose hips with some spicy salad greens. Medium-bodied, tartly acidic, light tannins like fine dust. Tart cherry and under-ripe strawberries mix with iron, quinine and stemmy notes. Tastes too biting and green for me. Tried to let it open up and evolve, but not much changed. 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc that undergoes some carbonic maceration. (79 points)