How to find exceptional wines in Bordeaux – without breaking the bank

Mains

As we know Bordeaux is the home of some of the world’s most expensive wines. Yet there are only 200 of these classified wines in Bordeaux out of 6000 other châteaux. They are in high demand and their prices have quadrupled in the past 10 years.

We seem to have lost sense of reality. If you know where to look, Bordeaux is also the home to many great value wines. Some of these lie just on the ‘wrong side of the boundary’ with similar terroir to famous neighbours but a fraction of the cost. (These boundary lines were laid down in the 1930s , the French appellation system, often just circling around the village church). Some are in less fashionable areas with names that don’t have the cachet of more famous appellations. Many of these appellations have been tarnished by a reputation from the past when the most important criteria was the ageing potential of a wine.

In the complex world of understanding wine labels (and the French inconsistent classification words do not help!) preconceptions abound often dating from decades ago. With 30 years in the region I have come across such treasures, some are obvious, some are hidden away and hardly spoken of.

Many of them are SIP wines (from the SIP Wine Club quarterly mixed case deliveries direct from Small Independent Producers http://www.sip-wines.com) family-owned and run for generations. Email me ( nicolle@sip-wines.com) for more information.

Over the past ten years or so there has been a new understanding in the grass roots of vine growing with a new focus on the vine and what it needs to ripen its grapes in this temperate climate. Bordeaux might not be trendy, it might not be a new discovery, but it is time to give it a fresh look.

Where to find the great value wines in Bordeaux?

I go into a lot of detail of where to look and the SIP châteaux (Small Independent Producers) that I have discovered in the last 30 years in my recent book Bordeaux Sip by Sip (to order here) 14,90€

FULL BODIED WINES*

These wines have a majority Cabernet Sauvignon generally.

Medoc – Left Bank: Châteaux La Branne, Tour Haut Caussan, l’Ousteneuf, Bourdieu

Haut Medoc – this one of the most interesting appellations as it can be just on the wrong side of some of the most famous appellations and the high price tags of their neighbours on the same terroir.

D2 Route de Châteaux

Just over the Border from Margaux: Arsac, Agassac, Paloumey, Cambon la Pelouse

Just over the Border from St Julien: Moulin Rouge, Beaumont

Just over the Border from Pauillac: Hourtin Ducasse

Just over the Border from St Estephe: Sociando Mallet, Charmail

Moulis – Left Bank: Mauvesin, Biston Brillette

Listrac – Left Bank: Saransot Dupré, Mayne Lalande

Saint Emilion countryside

MEDIUM BODIED WINES– predominantly more Merlot

Graves – Left Bank: Cerons, Brondelle

Castillon – Right Bank: Picoron

St Emilion – Right Bank: Béard la Chapelle

Montagne St Emilion: Calon, Roudier

Puisseguin St Emilion: Bernon Becot

Fronsac – Right Bank: Cassagne Haut Canon, Gaby

Lalande de Pomerol: Canon Chaigneau

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