It's no secret that the wines of Bordeaux enjoy an exalted status among connoisseurs and collectors willing to spend impressive sums on these celebrated wines from the southwest of France. However, the big Bordeaux surprise is that the region produces an incredible selection of excellent wines at very affordable prices. These wines aren't just for drinkers with deep pockets - for less than $20 you can sip a bit of that Bordeaux magic!
Mary Gorman-McAdams (Master of Wine and market advisor to the Bordeaux Wine Council), Chef Marcus Samuelsson, and a bottle of Bordeaux at the Harlem EatUp! Festival.
image courtesy of ©HarlemEatUp!_DanielDaPhotography
Lest you think Bordeaux is old-fashioned and fussy, modestly priced Bordeaux wines are showing up in some very cool and unexpected places. Bordeaux has been poured at dinners and tastings at the annual Harlem EatUp! festival since its inception in 2015. Harlem EatUp! was co-founded by renowned Chef Marcus Samuelsson and Mary Gorman-McAdams (Master of Wine and market advisor to the Bordeaux Wine Council) was the catalyst for Bordeaux's partnership with the festival. The wines poured at the festival showed that modestly priced Bordeaux is still of excellent quality and can pair beautifully with a wide variety of cuisine from soul food to sushi, and Italian to Indian.
Bordeaux refers to the region and the wines produced there. Bordeaux's signature red grapes are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. The white grapes are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle.
I recently met with Mary and asked her to recommend five delicious and affordable Bordeaux wines. Here are Mary's picks!
Château La Mouliniere Rosé, Bordeaux 2015 ($10)
This lovely and well-structured rosé is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot - a fantastic way to experience the red grapes that are the backbone of the classic Bordeaux red blend. Dry, fresh, and fruity with lovely flavors of raspberry and strawberry; this is a great summer sip. Built in the late 16th century, Château La Mouliniere is a single-estate vineyard located on the right bank of the Dordogne River near Saint-Emilion.
Château Marjosse, Entre-Deux-Mers, Blanc 2014 ($17)
This gorgeous white wine comes from an impressive pedigree - Château Marjosse is the home estate for Pierre Lurton - the managing director of two legendary First Growth Bordeaux estates (Château Cheval Blanc and Château d'Yquem). Entre-Deux-Mers means "between two seas" and refers to the area of Bordeaux between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. This refreshing white wine beautifully combines the region's signature grapes Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Sauvignon Gris, and Muscadelle to create a wine that Mary describes as "fruity and versatile" and with enough elegance and style to bring to a dinner party.
Château Tour de Goupin, Bordeaux Blanc 2014 ($12)
Described as "dry with a light floral bouquet, crisp textures, and a clean finish," this blend of Sauvignon, Semillon, and Muscadelle is produced on an estate that avoids pesticides and chemicals in the vineyard.
Château Recougne Bordeaux Superieur 2012 ($15)
Château Recougne has produced wine for more than 400 years and its name is said to have come from King Henri IV in the early 17th century in "recognition" of the quality of its wines. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is described as "supple, round, and generous."
Château Capbern Gasqueton, Saint Estephe 2014 ($19)
Owned by the Gasqueton family for 10 generations, Château Capbern is known for producing charming wines with enough structure to age 10-20 years. Mary says that "you don't have to spend a lot of money to start a collection of wine. It isn't just a rich man's sport. Modest wines can age well." This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot is an incredibly affordable way to start your Bordeaux collection. "Hints of smoke, tobacco, licorice, mocha, and earthiness wrap around a core of dark fruit in an exuberant wine loaded with pure textural richness" that will develop beautifully over time.
If you're planning a trip to France, now is an especially exciting time to visit Bordeaux - the stunning vineyards and elegant châteaux have a shiny new neighbor - La Cité du Vin. "An immersive and sensory adventure showcasing the cultures and civilizations of wine," La Cité du Vin is a stunning architectural statement that is meant to evoke the essence and soul of wine. Visitors can experience a variety of interactive experiences, art installations, restaurants, and plenty of wine! A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bordeaux was #2 on The New York Times list "52 Places to Go in 2016" - impressive!