30 Second Wine Advisor: Good cheap Bordeaux
Today's Sponsor
 The California Wine Club Mother's Day is four short weeks away!

In This Issue
 Good cheap Bordeaux A couple of admirable Bordeaux in the affordable range counter the cynical assumption that there's no such thing.
 Chateau Malbat 2003 Bordeaux ($8.99)
A cut above most generic Bordeaux, and a noteworthy bargain for this low-end price.
 The California Wine Club Mother's Day is four short weeks away!
 Clercy Grossard 2003 Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc ($11.99)
Crisp and clean, with an attractively creamy medium-bodied texture, fine budget White Bordeaux.
 This week on WineLoversPage.com Cherry-picking Washington State wines, skeptically examining the 2005 Bordeaux vintage, and talking about "tears" and "legs" in wine tasting.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index The Wine Advisor archives.
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Good cheap Bordeaux

Earlier this month, when I announced the "Bargain Bordeaux" theme for April in our Wine Tasting 101 Forum, I made the rather cynical, if arguably accurate, observation that the quality that distinguishes high-end Bordeaux trickles down only spottily to the more affordable price ranges, adding, "Tthere's no really polite way to say that much of low-end Bordeaux is plonkish at best."

I'll stand by that remark as a general rule. But the good news is that there are always a few exceptions to prove the rule. For today's report, let's examine a couple of them - a decent red Bordeaux that I purchased for well under $10, and a very attractive white Bordeaux that sold for just a bit over that price point.

It's interesting - and possibly not coincidental - that both these wines were from the much-debated 2003 vintage, the record-hot summer in Europe that yielded hugely ripe fruit that made many offbeat wines that lovers of classic style and "typicity" found bizarre. It should be noted, though, that most observers didn't find the 2003 Bordeaux quite as crazy as some of the truly wacky '03s from places like Burgundy and the Loire.

Today's tasting also suggests another generalization: In more normal vintages, the problem with "lesser" Bordeaux in normal vintages is usually under-ripeness, producing thin, lean, tart and herbally "green" wines that aren't easy to like. Perhaps the heat-wave vintage that pumped up the more desirable vineyards to almost California-style ripeness had the unanticipated but happy side effect of bringing the less-favored vineyards up to the mark.

Could be ... at least, based on this experience, I'll be a little more open to trying very-low-end '03 Bordeaux. At this price point, it's not much of a risk.

I've posted today's column in the WT101 section of our Netscape WineLovers Community, where you're welcome to read the replies and add your own comments or questions at this link:

For more advanced wine-enthusiast discussions on this or any wine-related subject, you're welcome in our non-commercial WineLovers Discussion Group, where today's article is featured at this link:

To contact me by E-mail, write wine@wineloverspage.com. I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.

Chateau Malbat Chateau Malbat 2003 Bordeaux ($8.99)

This is an inky blackish-purple wine, almost opaque. Simple but pleasant, it shows typical Bordeaux aromas of blackcurrant and cedar, with subtle herbal background notes. Ripe, rather full black-fruit flavors show the fruit-forward character of the 2003 vintage, but there's plenty of zippy acidity and soft tannins to hold things in balance. If it's a bit on the simple side, it's definitely a cut above most generic Bordeaux, and a noteworthy bargain for this low-end price. U.S. importer: International Gourmet Corp., Tucker, Ga. (Nov. 30, 2005)

FOOD MATCH: Fine with pan-seared lamb chops, a classic partner with red Bordeaux.

VALUE: Absolutely no complaints at this price; you'll be hard pressed to find a drinkable Bordeaux for less.

WHEN TO DRINK: Not a Bordeaux meant for cellaring, although its good balance of fruit and structure should hold it for at least a few years.

Find vendors and compare prices for Chateau Malbat on Wine-Searcher.com:

California Wine Club
California Wine Club: Mother's Day is four short weeks away!

Mother's Day is four short weeks away. Shop now and get a $55 gift, absolutely free from The California Wine Club.

For nearly 16 years The California Wine Club has featured smaller family wineries. Why? Because we realized that small producers can handcraft wines in ways just not possible for larger wineries. So treat Mom to something special with a gift from The California Wine Club.

Send the Mom in your life a wine club gift of three months or more, and her first shipment will be packaged in a Wooden Engraved Joseph Phelps Insignia Collector's Crate. In addition to the wine and Uncorked, we will also include a copy of Cooking With Wine by Fiona Beckett, and a set of note cards by the renowned wine humorist Bob Johnson. It's a $55 value, free with gifts of three months or more.

As always, each month includes two bottles of award-winning, hand-selected from California's best artisan winemakers. Just $32.95/month plus shipping. To take advantage of this special Mother's Day offer, please call 1-800-777-4443 and mention today's Wine Advisor. You can also visit:

Clercy Grossard Clercy Grossard 2003 Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc ($11.99)

The wine is pale and almost transparent, but it flashes glints of bright gold against the light. Its aromas and flavors are simple but fresh, melons and citric lemon-lime, characteristic young White Bordeaux. So crisp and clean that it seems light at first, but an attractive medium- bodied texture becomes apparent on the mid-palate. Its typical White Bordeaux blend consists of 90 percent Sauvignon Blanc and 10 percent Semillon. U.S. importer: Eurowinegate N.A., Manhasset, N.Y. (April 16, 2006)

FOOD MATCH: Its crisp acidity, simple fruit and slightly creamy texture made it a surprisingly good match with Easter ham.

VALUE: A fine buy at the just-over-$10 price.

WHEN TO DRINK: Only the best White Bordeaux reward aging; enjoy this one over the next year or so.

I can't immediately find information about Clercy Grossard on the importer's Website, but there's plenty of information about a variety of wines and producers:

There's no information about Clercy Grossard on Wine-Searcher.com, suggesting that this negociant wine may have been a one-time production. If you're keen to track it down, I suggest contacting the importer at the Web link above.

This week on WineLoversPage.com

Some highlights of recent articles on WineLoversPage.com that I hope you'll enjoy:

Bucko's Wine Reports: Spring 2006 Releases
New-releases columnist Randy "Bucko" Buckner cherry-picks the best of more than 700 wines at Taste Washington among the 100 wines in his monthly review. Here's Bucko's report.

Hot topics in our WineLovers' Community
Our WineLovers' Discussion Groups are the best places online to ask wine questions and participate in the civil and intelligent discussion of good things to eat and drink. In addition to our WineLovers Community on the Netscape/CompuServe service, we've just revamped our "classic" WineLovers Discussion Group (WLDG), the Internet's original wine forum, a non-commercial venue intended for serious wine conversations that range from apprentice-level to wine professionals. I hope you'll take the time to visit both of our forums today!

How about the 2005 Bordeaux?
They're talking about yet another Vintage of the Century, a story that's been told so many times it is getting hard to credit, and it's all but certain that the spinup is leading inexporably toward record prices. But could the hype be true this time?

Tears and legs
Does the old practice of examining the long drips down the walls of the wine glass - "tears" or "legs" in winespeak - have any real value? That's the subject of debate in this hot topic on our Netscape WineLovers Community.

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 Wine to go? (April 14, 2006)

 Napa Wine Auction goes global (April 12, 2006)

 Red wine and fish (April 10, 2006)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Slow-roasted steak (April 13, 2006)

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Monday, April 17, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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