The red wines of Bordeaux are among the most famous wines on earth. They present an odd paradox, though. The region’s top wines are overrated by the critics and snapped up by the collector class. Distinguished by arcane cru classifications, these wines are often quite expensive as a result of a globalized game of supply and demand.
Meanwhile, Bordeaux’s affordable wines are made in copious quantities and deliver exceptional value for the dollar. Yet these wines are consistently overlooked by the average American wine drinker.
Those who like their wines on the drier, more food-oriented side would do well to explore bottlings like this one, known as “generic” or “regional” Bordeaux. Where more collectible Bordeaux tend to be labeled under the names of prestige villages or sub-districts, the most accessible and least pretentious wines are simply named for the broad region of Bordeaux itself.
Bordeaux wines are almost always blends and limited by law to the region’s own native grapes. Merlot and cabernet sauvignon are the top two red grapes, of which merlot is more widely planted and cabernet sauvignon more revered. In practice, the more affordable a Bordeaux, the more likely it is to be made with mostly merlot, but French merlot tastes quite different from the plumper, fruitier merlots of California.
Wines like this one feature a flavor profile more like fresh wild blackberries — complete with the lingering bitter bite of their seeds — than it is like baked berry desserts. Tangy and not at all sweet, these wines also feature savory aromatics of olives and bell peppers that make them terrific partners for Mediterranean and continental cuisines.