Monday, November 20, 2017

Plenty of Quality & Value to be Found in Côtes de Bordeaux

If you’re looking for moderately-priced, accessible Bordeaux reds, Côtes de Bordeaux is a great place to start.

Wine made in the Côtes appellations, in aggregate, make up just 10% of Bordeaux wines, and they’re almost entirely red (with a few Sauvignon Blanc-dominated blends in the mix). Merlot is dominant here, backed up by Cab Sauv, Malbec, and other red Bordeaux grapes. Blaye is the largest of the appellations, producing more than 5 million cases, while the smallest, Sainte-Foy, produces only about 110,000 cases. In 2009, these non-contiguous appellations joined forces to create the
Union des Côtes de Bordeaux to collectively promote their wines.

The region’s calling card are small, family-owned estates who produce quality wines at moderate prices. Sourced from predominantly clay soils on the right banks of the Garrone and Dordogne rivers, these juicy, fruity wines offer a great Bordeaux introduction for new or intermediate wine drinkers, especially those seeking to snatch up a lot of wine for a little money. If you’re not sure of the style of Bordeaux wine you like, you can get adventurous without spending a ton — the wines in this report all retail for $12-$21.

Unfortunately, I don’t come upon a lot of these wines here in the U.S., but hopefully that will change. I for one would love to see more and more of these wines on by-the-glass lists at wine bars and restaurants.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2016 Château Peybonhomme-les Tours Le Blanc Bonhomme - France, Bordeaux, Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux
SRP: $21
Rich gold color. Lovely notes of honey, lemon curd, baked apple, mixed with chalky, floral, spicy herbal notes. Creamy texture on the palate, bright acidity, this is wonderfully balanced between richness and vibrancy. Lemon curd, yellow apple, spiced apricot jam, this is delicious with complex notes of spiced tea and floral potpourri. Impressive amount of depth and complexity for a wine at this price point. 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 50% Semillon. (91 points)

2014 Château Hyot - France, Bordeaux, Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux
SRP: $15
Deep ruby color. Aromas of black cherries, red and black with some nice savory spices (clove, bay leaf, black pepper), with violets and charred earth. Medium-bodied with some solid grip to the tannins, medium acidity keeps it fresh. Pretty and juicy with black currants and cherries, laced with cocoa powder, dark roast coffee, some potting soil and smoky charcoal notes. It really opens up nicely with air, and could improve for a few years. Very impressive for the price. Merlot with 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. (87 points)

2014 Château Biac Felix de Biac - France, Bordeaux, Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux
SRP: $25
Deep ruby color. Nose shows black cherries and tangy plums, lots of earthy, spicy, savory qualities here, some bacon fat and bell pepper, too. Medium+ bodied frame, really tight tannic structure with moderate acidity. Impressive concentration of black and red plums and cherries, mixed with cocoa, violets, graphite and wet rocks. Can drink well now (air will help) or cellar for a few years and let it unwind. 58% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc. (89 points)

2014 Château Carbonneau Cuvée Classique - France, Bordeaux, Sainte Foy Côtes de Bordeaux
SRP: $12
Medium ruby color. Aromas of black currants, tart red and black plums, loamy soil, cedar and sweet espresso. Moderate grip on the palate, fresh acidity, impressive depth on the palate for a wine at this price point. Pencil shavings, earthy, violets, incense sticks, pepper. Not super complex but seductive for the price. 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec. (87 points)

2014 Château Puygueraud - France, Bordeaux, Francs Côtes de Bordeaux
SRP: $18
Deep ruby colored. Aromas of red and black currants, dark plums, rich but exotic with notes of violets, clove, eucalyptus, anise, and fallen leaves. Full and nicely balanced on the palate with hard tannins for a wine at this price point, fresh acidity. Black currants galore, topped in cedar, roasted herbs and smoky charcoal. Impressive depth and concentration, this could age for at least a few years. 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec. Aged in 40% new French oak. (89 points) 

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