When Bordeaux is mentioned in conversation about wine, the striking price may be the first thought of many, closely chased by how lovely to drink those wines will be, but not really an opportunity for everyday drinking. On the whole, people also think of red wine when they think of Bordeaux, and maybe Sauternes, and certainly this latter would be expensive.
This is far from the reality. Outside the traditionally expensive appellations there is a plethora of wines – red, white and even sparkling – that are not expensive and can be found readily in our shops and on line. The marvellous thing about these wines is that, as well as being very affordable, they represent fabulous value for money, giving great quality and are a pleasure to drink.
These wines don’t always stick to the well-known blends of the left and right banks. Malbec and Carménère can more frequently be found and in white wines, we may see Sauvignon Gris as well as the traditional Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
Unlike many of the classed growth wines, that need a good few years to mature before the tannins calm down or the flavours come through a wall of acidity, these more affordable wines are ready to drink from their release and will last well, if stored properly.
Here are a few of my recent favourites white wines; they would be perfect all year around, not just for summer drinking:
Calvet Crémant 2014, Bordeaux £12.49 Ocado
Sparkling doesn’t have to be Champagne, Prosecco or, dare I say it, English. There are many sparkling wines made all over France in the form of Crémant, including Bordeaux. This one from Calvet is light and bright with lots of orchard fruits with touches of honey and lemon zest. Perfect not only for summer but as an all-round sparkling wine at under thirteen pounds.
Châteaux de Cérons Blanc, Graves 2015 £18.95 Lea and Sandeman
This is the most expensive of the whites I have tried recently, but still represents fabulous value and is still much less expensive than the classed growth white wines. With aromas of honey and honeysuckle, white flowers mixed with fresh pears and a touch of apricot, this is a wine to have with food. It is mostly Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc but has 10% Sauvignon Gris which adds to the complexity and brings the other two varieties into balance.
Châteaux Sainte-Marie 2017 Entre-deux-Mers £10.95 Great Western Wine
This wine is very pale in colour, and very clean on the palate. Its subtle aromas include pears and apricot. There is a small amount (8%) of Muscadet included in the blend with the remainder being 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 22% Semillon. It has refreshing flavours and mouth feel without the acidity being too high in any way. A great value white Bordeaux that will mix with most foods.
Châteaux Le Coin 2015 £10.99 Laithwaites
An unusual white for Bordeaux compromised of 100% Sauvignon Gris. It is full bodied and certainly a wine that matches well with most foods. I tried it with a rich smoked salmon and it worked beautifully, but I would imagine it would also go really well with a roast chicken. The texture is creamy in the mouth and very satisfying. The flavours are expansive and include lots of lemon as well as lychee, pears and touches of honey. An absolute bargain of which I’ll be drinking more in the future.
There are also some fabulous value red wines. Here are a few that will satisfy a regular red Bordeaux drinker, but not destroy their wallet. All have good density and concentration of fruit with balanced acidity and a juicy mouth feel.
For utmost value versus flavour, I would choose these reds:
Definition Medoc Claret from Majestic at £11.99.
This wine has a rich aroma and balanced palate. A little more rustic than some of the others, but I think that stylistic quality gives the wine plenty of interest, and certainly doesn’t let you down on flavour.
Three others I recently thought were particularly good value were these:
Château Blaignan 2012 £10.88 at Marks and Spencer
Château de Colombe Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux 2016 £13.99 from Laithwaites
Château Lauriol 2014 Francs Côtes de Bordeaux £13.95 Lea and Sandeman.
By Colin Hampden-White