The Bordeaux You Don’t Know

Are you a Bordeaux aficionado? Maybe someone with a cellar full of wines from Margaux, Pomerol and Saint Estephe? This article is not for you. This is aimed at wine lovers who might be a little less in-the-know about Bordeaux – but no less curious — about the wines from this historic French region.

I just returned from the Union de Grands Crus de Bordeaux a tasting in Chicago, where owners and principals of hundreds of Bordeaux chateaux were pouring their new 2020 vintage wines. A total of 13 Bordeaux crus (which refers to “growths,” as in premier cru) were showing their wines, and the consensus from all the pros is that the 2020 vintage is a winner. Bonus: these wines are drinkable right now. (I mean, sure, you can cellar them and all that, but you don’t have to.)

Did I taste the wines from Saint Émilion Grand Cru? I sure did – because I loooooove Merlot, and Saint Émilion is my favorite right bank region. Did I taste Pomerol (another Right Bank region I love)? Nope. Margaux? Skipped ’em. I got so excited about the quality from some of the lesser-known areas like Listrac -Médoc, Moulis-en-Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Médoc (I know – that’s a lot of Médocs), and Graves and Pessac-Léognan, that I went to town tasting and spitting to bring you some affordalicious insights!

Wine Eye Opener: Bordeaux is divided between Right Bank and Left Bank of the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers; Right Bank wines are generally Merlot-dominant, Left Bank wines are generally Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant.

As I tasted and talked with people, I started asking about average prices for bottles at retail – and was wowed by a lot of bodacious bottles that can be had for … are you ready for it? Less than $50! THIS is what I mean when I use my favorite word, “affordalicious.”

These wines from some of lesser-known crus might not boast “premier cru” status – but they drink like wines that are far more expensive. Trust me when I say that the Bordeaux classification system is enough to drive a person to drink, but the bottom line is this: there are glorious Bordeaux reds and whites that you want to taste – and you can do it without selling your first-born. Check these out.

These five wines from Listrac-Médoc and Moulis-en-Médoc are all on the Left Bank, so slightly more Cabernet Sauvignon-forward, backed up with plush Merlot and sometimes a little Petit Verdot, for structure. They were all absolutely, mouthwateringly delicious.

Here we have eight beauties are from Haut-Médoc and Médoc, also on the Right Bank, so most – but not – all lead with Cabernet Sauvignon.

The white wines from Graves and Pessac-Léognan are all blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, and they … are… THE BOMB! Bright, fresh, singing with acidity, but softened a bit with that Semillon. I could drink these all day long.

So that’s what’s in that bottle this week! These wines will all soon be arriving in retailers, and I say, if you’re curious, and ready to invest $25 or $35 or $40 getting to know affordalicious Bordeaux, let your wine shop know. They’ll call you when the wines come in and will help you choose. Salut, mes amies!

One comment

  1. Ummm. Yes please–send them all! Sent along to my pals who live in the Dordogne for half the year to stock up when they head back soon. For my visit later this year or next!


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