A bounty of Bordeaux at prudent prices

September 10, 2018

RIP Aretha Franklin and John McCain. It was quite disturbing, all the political and distracting nonsense the media visited on us even during the funerals and memorial services in the time surrounding the passing of these two iconic U.S. citizens.

First, there is a terrific auction of vintage wine going off at 7 p.m. tonight, Friday, Sept. 7. Those who get this on time may go to for a complete look at the lovely old wine being auctioned. Quite a few 1982 Bordeaux and top Cali Cabs such as Screaming Eagle, Abreu, Scarecrow, and some remarkable Cali Chards. There are also more affordable options among the 1,400+ lots.

This week, as promised, is the start of reviewing inexpensive Bordeaux I find both well-made and affordable. Remember the vaunted 2009 reviews? How about 89-point Chateau Larose Trintaudon Haut Medoc selling under $25 right now? It is in its perfect window. Made with 60 percent Cab, 40 percent Merlot. Dark crimson. Light, fresh nose with just a hint of plums and cassis. The 2014, ‘15 and ‘16 also rate 89 points. Trintaudon is always on my list as an everyday drinking Bordeaux. Recently, Chateau Paloumey 2015 halves were seen on sale for $11, a great bargain if you can wait two years. Will cellar through 2025, at least. Look for raspberry, rose, cherry, oak-driven cedar and leather aromas.

Well balanced with lovely repeat of fruit on the medium palate, all riding a proper acid-tannin frame, 90 McD.

Chateau Hyot Cotes de Bordeaux Castillon 2010 is 90 points and can be found at $206 per case. This is a true bargain. The wine was grown, made and bottled by the very talented Alain Aubert with 60 percent Merlot, 20 percent Cabernet Franc, and 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Remember my mantra, follow the winemaker. It won a couple of gold medals. Blackberry, cassis, tobacco and spice aromas with toast and vanilla nuance, medium body, fine tannins that have lots of traction on the finish, perfect now.

How about a real Malbec from Chateau Malbec? The 2009, 90 points McD, is findable well under $20. Sweet cassis, black fruit, oak-driven spice and coffee aromas. On the palate, black fruit and judicious use of barrel aging indicated by spice notes. Generally speaking, Malbec is grown for use in blending in France. The 2014 won accolades at Decanter Worlds, and a few claimed the best 2014 under $20. That is definitely a reach. However, it is worth sampling under $18 if you are a patient cellarer.

Tony Galloni pointed me toward Chateau Tauzinat l’Hermitage St. Emilion Grand Cru 2015. Around $20 this is a fine buy. Will improve into its window by 2020 and keep thru 2028, minimum. Think burgers, a chunk of cheddar and Bordeaux. Very dark purple with plum, cranberry, leather, vanilla, coffee and chocolate aromas; massive tannins and color say cellar me.

I opened it, decanted it into a large serving bowl for optimum air exposure and allowed it to sit several hours. Using a funnel, I poured it back into the bottle and brought the temp back down. This fake aging showed me the terrific promise of the wine. Going out on a limb, I’m guessing it may be one of the best-value $20 Bordeaux ever, by 2024.

Chateau Fleur Haut Gaussens la Viminiere Bordeaux Superieur 2015 is 90 points around $17. Many stores in New Jersey are selling this but I could find none in Delaware. Perhaps your friendly wine store owner will bring some in for you. Garnet-colored, opens to cassis, blackberry and cherry aromas. On the palate, fruit, acidity, oak tones with proper tannic support lead to pleasing, long, clean finish. Will cellar minimum 10 years. They also bottle a Malbec la Viminiere that uses cold grape-and-stem maceration, and barrel aging. Blackberry, blueberry and slightly smoky bouquet leads to blackberry, tobacco, pepper, spice and sweet tannin palate, 88 points under $25.

FYI, roughly 70 percent of the world’s Malbec grapes are planted in Argentina, and they provide fruit-forward, plummy wines with a velvety texture. Malbec from Cahors in southwest France produces wines that are more savory and tart, with firm tannins and blackberry flavors.

In Cahors, the Malbec, Merlot and Tannat grapes are blended producing “black wine of Cahors.” Chateau les Croisille Calcaire 2014, 88 points under $25, a small family domain that grows Malbec on the calcareous clay soil terraces of Cahors, is a classic example of these wines. The 2014 shows blackberry and, just as these berries are, it is tart and tannic.