I’ll bet that’s a title you didn’t expect. Most often when we see “Bordeaux” we go right to the higher end, well known, cellerable (I made that word up) and expensive wines that the region is known for. But there many more terrific wines from Bordeaux that are great for everyday – white and red. Today we’ll chat about red since I had a juicy Swiss cheese burger hot off the grill last night along with a tasty wine from Castillon-Cotes de Bordeaux. And it was perfect burger wine that was only about $15.
The most basic thing to know about Bordeaux is learning your left from your right. Okay – sorry for being a smart***. But the wines from the Left, or west of the Gironde and Garonne Rivers are Cabernet driven, while those from the Right, or east of the Gironde and Dordogne are Merlot driven. Then there is a large triangular area called Entre-Deux-Mers, literally ‘between the seas’ where there are higher production, mostly white wines. The reason to be aware of the Left or Right back locations is that those Right bank Merlot based wines tend to be more readily drinkable if you prefer softer, less tannic wine for everyday.
Here’s a factoid for you – Merlot is actually the most widely planted grape in Bordeaux. So much for the stigma it seems to still carry here (see my post on Much Maligned Merlot for more on that). So if you would like to try some good value, easy to drink Right bank Bordeaux look for the names of the region on the label. None of these are typically 100% Merlot but rather a blend of the permitted Bordeaux grapes which include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Carmenere and Malbec in addition to Merlot but most of the wines from the Right bank are at least half Merlot.
Here’s a list for you to take into the wine shop:
- Blaye-Cotes de Bordeaux
- Francs-Cotes de Bordeaux
- Castillon-Cotes de Bordeaux
- Cadillac-Cotes de Bordeaux
- Cotes de Bourg
There are also the wines and communes where you can find the most high end offerings from Pomerol and St. Emilion. The main city on the Right bank is Libourne so this region is also known as the Libournais. But in addition to the fine wines of Pomerol and the Grand Cru wines of St. Emilion there are the so-called satellites which offer some really good values:
- Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion, and,