Greetings, Wineaux: I have a new “cheap and fancy” wine find: Côtes de Bordeaux! Not only is it delicious French wine, but it is NOT EXPENSIVE! Want to know more? Yeah, you do, come on.
First, let’s talk about the differences between Bordeaux and Côtes de Bordeaux. Fancy, classified Bordeaux wine is super bougie and requires a ginormous wallet. But there are other wines made in Bordeaux that let you drink cheap and fancy any night of the week! I gushed about Cru Bourgeois wines a while ago – those are wines from unclassified wineries in the Médoc or Haut Médoc on the Left Bank of the Gironde River. Delicious.
And I’ll ‘fess up: my familiarity with Côtes de Bordeaux til now was sweet white dessert wines from Cadillac. Until Teuwen Communications, which represents Côtes de Bordeaux, stepped up and shared some samples with our French Winophiles group.
The AOC (appellation original controllé, which is French for “a wine area that must meet strict standards for growing and producing wine) Côtes de Bordeaux was created in 2009, and includes five appellations: Blaye, Cadillac, Castillon, Francs and Saint-Foy. Together, these Côtes de Bordeaux appellations make about 10 percent of all Bordeaux wines, and it’s hard to spend more than $30 per bottle, with many tasty ones clocking in at the $15 mark. Cha ching!
Welcome to my “lightbulb Bordeaux moment.” So I think you know, I knew very little when I started in wine not so long ago and now I’m a bad-ass, thanks to simple tidbits like this:
BORDEAUX: If it’s red, it’s either Cabernet or Merlot and if it’s white, it’s Sauvignon Blanc.
When I learned this, it was like a wine lightning flash went off in my head. All of a sudden, when staring at a wall of French wine in a store, or the Bordeaux section of a restaurant wine list, I knew what was going on. You’re welcome. (Sure, it’s not totally true all the time, but it’s generally the situation.) Okay, on to the Côtes de Bordeaux beauties.
So what are the wines like? They’re mostly red (89 percent of all Bordeaux wines are red) and mostly delicious! The five magic grapes of any Bordeaux blend are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet France. The Right Bank leans toward Merlot (whereas the Left Bank leans toward Cabernet Sauvignon). The whites are going to be Sauvignon Blanc maybe with some Semillon added (yummy).
I popped the cork on a 2014 Château Ampélia from Castillon with a grilled strip steak, sauteéd mushrooms and steamed asparagus. Whenever I’m not totally sure of what a red will be like, I often defer to grilled meat, because I defy it to be anything but delicious with red wine plus – if the wine does suck, at least you’ve got a steak to eat! This wine definitely did not suck, and was perfecto with steak, but it also would be great with a sausage pizza, a burger or lamb. The wine is 95 percent Merlot and 5 percent Cabernet Franc and 100 percent delicious!
It’s big, bright and elegant, with an alluring scent of blackberries, super-ripe cherries, leather, graphite (because don’t we all smell pencils all the time?) and an underlying note of salinity. Maybe some spices like cardamom snuck their way into the aroma, too. It draws you in for a sip, which made me sigh with happiness. It is SO FREAKING GOOD! Light and lush at the same time, with a richness that slayed me, a silky texture and very nice tannins. This wine reminds me of a feisty puppy eager to make friends with you, with lots of enthusiastic personality just bursting from the bottle. $15, for cryin’ out loud! Adore.
The next night, someone (uh, that would be me) had leftovers and did a total repeat dinner with another Côte de Bordeaux: 2014 Château Puygueraud from Francs – Côte de Bordeaux. This one is 75 percent Merlot, 20 percent Cabernet Franc and 5 percent Malbec. It was much more herbal and earthy with huge tannins and darker, more brooding but no less delicious.
At first, I liked it less than the Château Ampélia, but on second sip (after two days corked in the fridge), guess what? I really like it quite a bit and am having some now with caramelized onions on water crackers because I made caramelized onions for a dip and saved some leftovers just to eat, because the umami is off the charts and so good with this wine! At $18, this will impress anyone.
After getting to know these wines, I hope, like me, you’ll seek them out at your local store. Grill a steak. Bake a meatloaf. Fry up a burger. Caramelize some onions. Then pour a glass of Côte de Bordeaux and say, “Santé!”
P.S. I have to give a shout out to my friend Jennifer at Pre for sharing some delicious grass-fed steaks with me. Available in many supermarkets. 🙂
Here are more #winophiles discovers of Côtes de Bordeaux:
Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “Côtes de Bordeaux pairings through Blaye, Cadillac & Castillon”
Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla offers “Exploring the Côtes de Bordeaux with Simple, Salty, Spicy Nibbles”
Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Celebrating the Warm Weather with Bordeaux”
David from Cooking Chat brings us “Cheesy Beef Casserole with Wine from Côtes de Bordeaux”
Nicole from Somm’s Table explores “2 oz Pours: 5 Nights of BDX”
Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog offers “Côtes de Bordeaux: Your Go-To For Affordable, Approachable Bordeaux”
Gwen from Wine Predator shares “Affordable French: Bordeaux and Burgers for #Winophiles”
Rupal the Syrah Queen gives us “5 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Côtes de Bordeaux”
Jill of L’Occasion offers a “Guide to the Wines of Côtes de Bordeaux”
Lynn of Savor the Harvest shares “Côtes de Bordeaux: A Chateau Carsin Surprise”
Jeff at FoodWineClick! shares “Drinking Tuesday Night Bordeaux”
Lauren from The Swirling Dervish offers “Côtes de Bordeaux: Why It Should Be on Your Wine Shopping List”
Amber of Wine Travel Eats gives us “Salmanazar – Côtes de Bordeaux”