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Bordeaux on a Budget: Petit Chateau

Vineyard and old church Sunrise - Landscape - Bordeaux Vineyard

So what exactly do we know about Bordeaux? With the Médoc formerly being nothing more than a swamp...

…this marshy land was first drained in the mid-17th century by the true kings of the waterways, the aquatically savvy Dutch.

Afterwards, Bordeaux would eventually grow to become a region with quite a prosperous merchant class that unsurprisingly fostered an elite wine region to match.  A bit later down the line, in the year 1855 came a historic classification for Bordeaux’s so-called ‘finest wines’ that would inevitably influence the entire industry as we now know it.  Even today, many of the world’s most expensive and highly collected wines are the result of these designated growths from this historically infamous classification.

Petit Chateau: Bordeaux Diamonds in the Rough

But do you happen to have $800 sitting around to spend on a bottle of Lafite? I certainly don’t, maybe in another lifetime.  But for now, what I can afford are the plethora of smaller estates, often referred to as Petit Chateau, that produce some absolutely fantastic quality wines at uber-friendly prices.  A far cry from the notoriously overpriced growths, these affordable bottlings allow delicious Bordeaux to be enjoyed on any weekday with a nice home cooked meal.  Coming from all over the Bordeaux region, these wines can be found labeled with classifications like Bordeaux Supérieur, Cru Bourgeois, or simple appellation-specific designations – for example Fronsac

Although typically easy-drinking and value driven, you will likely be pleasantly surprised by the amount of complexity and sheer balance that these wines can often express.  And considering that these wines mostly range from about $10-$30 a bottle, what is there not to love about these hidden gems of the wine world? I, for one, have definitely been enjoying the uprising of Bordeaux’s Petit Chateau producers becoming more and more available here in the US.

Just to name a few, here are some bottles I’ve tasted recently from the Côtes de Bordeaux that made both my palate and wallet very happy.


Chateau Carignan

Chateau Carignan

Chateau Carignan 2009 – Cadillac 

 Côtes de Bordeaux $20 

Beautifully bright with notions of blackberry, huckleberry, iris and a hint of black olive.  Elegant with incredibly supple tannins, it beefs up the structure with intense notes of espresso bean and black pepper that linger for a lengthy finish.

Chateau Cote Montpezat Cuvee Compostelle 2009

Château Côte Montpezat 2009 – Castillon 

Côtes de Bordeaux$18.00

A gorgeously deep hue unveils ripe aromas of blueberry, black plum, rose and cinnamon.  On the palate, it is both ripe and round with velvety tannins and a notable precision with lots of spice and a bold undertone of cigar box to see it through to the end.


Chateau de Francs

Chateau de Francs “Les Cerisiers” 2009 – Francs 

Côtes de Bordeaux $18.00

Flirtatiously full-bodied with utter finesse, it unravels perfumes of black cherry, redcurrant, violet and fresh mint leaf.  Refined silk-like tannins lead the way through a midpalate of fennel seed and a long finish of dark chocolate.



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About The Author
Julie Albin
Julie Albin is a wine and spirits writer based in San Francisco and is currently the Editor-in-Chief for Drink Me Magazine. Her work has also been published in Whisky Advocate, Grape Collective, SOMA Magazine, Wine Geographic, Connoisseur Magazine, 2Paragraphs, etc. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine and has also completed her WSET Diploma. To further her expertise in the industry, Julie has spent much time in Europe meeting with winemakers and distillers to learn about their stories.

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