How to do Bordeaux on a Budget

By / Magazine / September 9th, 2015 / 5

When you bring up the topic of Bordeaux, dollar signs start to dance around in many people’s heads … and why not? This fabled region has a cache about it that transcends the truth.

To a vast many Bordeaux is wine, it’s the “birthplace” of the blend, the be-all and end-all when it comes to the pressed and fermented grape; and it is seen as a place where the good ones are way out of your price range.

There are lots of stories these days about Bordeaux being an investment and that puts many people off making a purchase or even investigating the section at their local wine store; they hear about the constantly rising prices of these wines and there’s just no budget for it. Which then demands the question: who has the kind of cash to buy Bordeaux anymore?

The simple answer is: you do.

You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy a good wine from this region; sure if you want to line the cellar walls with first, second and third growths then you will pay a pretty penny, but there are plenty of great values to be had. You just need to know what to look for. And that’s where I’ll swoop in to help.

Is a $300 Bordeaux worth it? Sure, if you’re laying it down for the next 10 to 20 years. Studies have shown that wine is one of the soundest investments you can make these days. It even outperforms many blue chip stocks and mutual funds over the long haul.

But if you’re like me, a nice $30 Bordeaux sounds like a much better investment, especially if it delivers flavour without breaking the bank. Something you could happily put on the table and has the cache without the highly inflated price tag.

Bordeaux is still making great wine at all price points, but especially at the value end of the spectrum, if you just know where to look. I want Bordeaux that I can age but also drink and not worry that I won’t make my mortgage payment that month. So if you’re looking to grab a few bottles that are good for both the cellar (short term) and the table read on …

Château de Monbadon 2010 ($18.95)

Well-priced and well-structured with nice firm tannins. There’s even a degree of elegance behind it all with its deep dark fruit and nice spice.

Château Haut-Surget 2012 ($27.95)

Not sure I was rightly ready for the experience this wine offered, but what a treat with its coffee, mocha and ripe, dark fruit.

Château Beausejour Hostens 2010 ($22.95)

Grippy, tongue-drying tannins and massive brooding dark fruit. This one needs some time, but it’s heading in the right direction.

Château Floreal Laguens 2010 ($16.95)

Not all Bordeaux need be big, ballsy and tannic. Fact is, this one is light and easy with its plum, blackberry and mineral; a good quaffing version of Bordeaux.

Château La Gorre 2010 ($25.95)

The big year of 2010 has spawned this blackberry and cassis number loaded with plenty of tannins and spice.

Château Lilian Ladouys 2010 ($31.85)

Just a touch over $30 this wine comes across as New World with its smooth dark fruit and supple, almost creamy, core. Very pleasant.

Château Pindefleurs 2010 ($25.85)

Creamy coffee notes mix with smoke, black tea and tannins that bite back at the tongue.

Château Rahoul 2010 ($31.95)

The balance here is amazing and inviting: dark smoke and coffee with hints of chocolate, mocha, blackberry and a fair bit of tannin grip.

Château Belle-Vue 2010 ($31.85)

The dark berries in here mix with mocha, pencil shavings and toasty tannins.

Château Vieux Chevrol 2010, Lalande de Pomerol ($29.95)

Mocha and black cherry lead things off with a smoothness and sexiness on the palate that includes coffee bean and anise.

Château Magnol 2010 ($25.95)

I hate to get ahead of things, but the finish on this wine is the most memorable part of it. Before you get there you’ll find smoky blackberry, cinnamon, and vanilla.

Château Cissac 2010 ($29.95)

This one seems to hit all the right notes and rounds the flavour bases with ease, from coffee bean and vanilla to cassis and plum.

Château de la Grave Caractère 2010 ($19.95)

Another under $30 Bordeaux that shows off an exceptional finish: cassis, smoked-plum, and black cherry; this one has value written all over it, in fact I’d go as far as saying “underpriced.”

Château de Ricaud 2010, Reserve des Coteaux ($18.95)

If you expect under $20 Bordeaux to underperform, think again: smoky dark fruit, plum and dark cherry with a big spiced finish.

Château La Croix Chantecaille 2009 ($29.95)

There’s a pleasant smoothness and approachability here with plenty of dark fruit and herbal notes, and that’s just for starters.

Château Lamartine 2010 ($16.95)

Mocha, herbal, touch of cherry, new leather all supported by the lovely and lengthy finish.

Château Le Bourdieu 2010 ($20.95)

A pleasant blend of anise and red currant on the nose is replaced on the palate by cassis and seductive spice.

Château Teyssier 2009 ($23.95)

Well balanced from nose to tongue: smoky-mocha, with dark fruit that plays possum from the very beginning but it’s coming; age this a few years or definitely decant for right now enjoyment.


Michael is an award-winning journalist: Promoting the Promoters Award Cuvée 2010 and Ontario Wine Awards Journalist of the Year 2012.  He is also a national and international wine judge - Ontario Wine Awards, All Canadian Wine Championships; Best of Riesling — Germany; Essencia do Vinho — "Top Wines of Portugal".  He is currently the President of the Wine Writers Circle of Canada and the wine columnist for Ottawa Life and Grand magazine as well as regular contributor to Tidings, and Grapevine ... his reviews have also appeared in the LCBO Vintages magazine. Michael has also added a YouTube channel to his activities where he reviews bottles of great Ontario wine on a weekly basis. In whatever he does, it is Michael’s desire to educate, inspire and encourage others to grow their own love and enthusiasm for wine – and to realize that it is their palate that ultimately makes the decision.

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