Bordeaux to buy on a budget
I was really upset when I read Le Figaro's 2019 en primeur 'must buy' for every budget. Their cheapest budget category is 'under €30'. That is not a budget wine. That should not ever be the cheapest wine you consider.
Without going into too much detail (you can read more about my thoughts on 2019 Bordeaux here), here are three wines I think really deserve the label of top-notch budget-friendly Bordeaux, as well as being absolutely delicious. Sure, they don't have a fancy label that Instagram will love, and maybe they won't be quite so refined as a wine ten times as expensive, but at this price who cares?
Chateau Sainte Marie Bordeaux Superieur Vieilles Vignes 2019
12 months barrel. Digestive, biscuit, toasty, apple crumble. Dark jammy red fruit. Very well integrated, softened tannins. Slightly tucked away, hidden but balanced acidity. Soft, easy to drink, a little bit more bruised apple, some quince, just a very tiny hint of mineral leafiness on finish. More quince as it lingers. Outstanding - and unbelievable value for money at €7.50. Probably the best in terms of value of the whole tasting. A few days after the tasting, I tried a glass of this and was blown away at how good it was compared to what I’d been drinking in the meantime. Tannins, although fairly soft, feel like they might stick around for a while - I wouldn’t be afraid of ageing this. My biggest complaint - the label makes it look like a supermarket wine and doesn’t do it justice. €7.60 a bottle from the vineyard, an absolute bargain.
Chateau Bourdieux N1 Cotes de Blaye 2019
Dark, some red fruit, a little plummy, some greenness, a little old carpet. Some more peppery, tomato stalk greenness and earthy minerality on palate. A little ribena, cassis, wonderfully well integrated tannins, very nice. Strong chalky tannins but that go down smoothly, bright fresh red fruit acidity. Tasted 2020 but current vintage 2016. Would not be upset being served this at €7-8 a glass in a wine bar. Despite the name, this is actually their second wine - stupid, I know. Their cheapest is about €2 a bottle less - the numéro 1 is worth the extra. €8 from Leclerc, pretty unbeatable.
Chateau Laurence 2019
Rhubarb? A little cooked, crumble. Benchmark plum cake actually. Jammy, ripe, bursting with fruit. A hint of leafiness, tannins giving structure without taking over, really grows on the palate with a bit more biscuit, more structure. Serious, malty, biscuity, toasty, nutty. Very drinkable while still being serious, perhaps unlike Lamothe-Bergeron which while also very drinkable was so by being light and delightful, whereas this is strong and stable. Tricky to rank - although not outstanding as one of the world's best wines (that I would choose to buy - important), flawless and can't see how could be improved. My favourite of the three, by far - but harder to find online, and a little pricier, at €13 - worth it for a minor special occasion, otherwise stick to Sainte Marie.
In a blind tasting, side by side with wines that cost ten times as much, these three might not look so good. But on a casual afternoon, these wines will be just as good.
At this price point, I don't think there will be terribly much vintage variation - don't fuss too much about an en primeur wine or keeping these for a decade or two. I also wouldn't expect vast amounts of terroir to come through - you can't afford that at €8 a bottle. They also won't draw many envious likes on Instagram, but they look classic enough and have at least some Bordeaux pedigree.
All in all, three pleasant Bordeaux that anyone can afford.