If you’re a wine drinker, chances are Bordeaux wines hold a certain mystical, alluring appeal. They do for me. Known as the ‘King of Wines’ Bordeaux wines are big, bold, complicated and perhaps most of all often very expensive…especially the wines classified as Grand Crus. All in all, they can be a bit intimidating.
The good news is not all Bordeaux wines are expensive. In fact, most of the wines produced in the region are not $100+ a bottle. There are some good inexpensive Bordeaux wines out there, but you need to know how to drink them in order to taste them at their best.
Our ‘home base’ for exploring Bordeaux was Chateau Greysac located in the Medoc, the northernmost region of Bordeaux. Chateau Greysac enjoys a good reputation as a producer of inexpensive, ready to drink wines with prices starting at about $18 a bottle…wines that are easy to find here at home.
In fact, our first tasting experience with Chateau Greysac wines was in Boerne, TX at the beautiful Boerne Wine Company on Main Street.
Classifications are everything in Bordeaux from the Premier Grand Crus like Chateau Margaux to the ready to drink, affordable Cru Bourgeois like Chateau Greysac. (BTW, Chateau Greysac shares common ownership with one of the Grand Crus of Bordeaux, Chateau Cantemerle.)
Our host was Chateau Greysac’s wine maker/director Stéphane Pariaud. Over a couple of fabulous meals with Stéphane, we tasted various vintages of Chateau Greysac from 1990 to 2007. The younger the wines, the bigger the fruit, the acidity and the tannins.
We tasted the wines when they were first opened and then again and again over the course of a couple of hours as our meals progressed.
They changed dramatically. What became very clear was that young Bordeaux wines can be very good, especially when they have time to open up…to breathe. These wines are lighter bodied and less complicated than their elite elders in Bordeaux, but enjoyable none the less.
We used that experience at Chateau Greysac to explore a variety of inexpensive Bordeaux wines throughout the rest of our stay there. Of course, some were much better than others. But, we discovered it’s possible to get a good Bordeaux wine for less than $20 (we had a $10 Bordeaux that was amazing).
The secret is to open the bottle at least 30 minutes to an hour before you plan to drink it. Take a sip when it’s first opened and then see how it’s changed when you enjoy that first glass. I think Bordeaux is best when paired with food…especially slow cooked, roasted meats!
But, when they’re young, these wines can even pair nicely with fish and chicken as we discovered. You’ve heard the saying ‘to really know wine, you have to drink a lot of wine’ … this kind of research is great fun!
A huge thank you to AT&T for keeping us connected! We got lost a zillion times on those French country roads, and AT&T’s wonderful network kept us afloat….I never knew my iphone would be so valuable. It rescued us many times!