The two words I most closely associate with Bordeaux are Cabernet and expensive. Wines made by any of the five First Growth châteaux are too pricey for my budget and the same is true for most wine drinkers, I would imagine. I need to look further down the Bordeaux ranking to find delicious wines that are also affordable.
Another way to find affordable, quality Bordeaux is to look for wines made by classified châteaux under other labels. In some cases these wines are sourced from the same classified vineyards, but using grapes that did not make it into their Grand Vin (flagship wine). These wines benefit from the same attention to detail in the vineyard and in the wine cellar but cost a fraction of the price. Many are much more approachable young as well. Especially for wine drinkers just getting to know Bordeaux, this can be an affordable way to learn.
We recently tasted two wines from the Légende collection of wines, which we received as tasting samples. The Légende Collection is part of the family of wines made by Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite). The First Growth star Château Lafite Rothschild is plainly out of my price range, but a group of wines priced between $17.99 and $49.99 is not.
The Légende Collection includes five wines: a white and red wine carrying the Bordeaux AOC and red wines from the Médoc, Pauillac and Saint- Émilion AOCs. These wines are made by Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) winemaker Diane Flamand and offer a taste of Bordeaux beyond Pauillac.
2016 Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite Légende Rouge, Bordeaux — light ruby in the glass with aromas of red fruit and damp earth. Tart red fruit flavors of raspberries and cranberries are backed by cedar, damp earth and hints of green pepper. Tannins are drying and slightly grippy, but well integrated with the flavors. Juicy acidity keeps this wine bright and angular. The body is on the light side of medium. 12.5% abv. $17.99
This wine spent nine months aging in vats, 40% with oak.
Visions of cool, red fruit come to mind when tasting this wine. It is a bit angular, lighter weight in the mouth than the wine that follows and balanced toward higher acidity. Nibble on a piece of cheese and this wine isn’t quit so angular. If you looking for a red wine that would be enjoyable on a warm summer afternoon — this is it. It is sippable on its own, but don’t hesitate to pair it with something fatty.
2016 Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite Légende Rouge, Médoc — medium ruby in the glass with complex aromas dark and red fruit along with leafy tobacco. Layered flavors of ripe blackberries and plums follow along with notes of dried tobacco, cedar and dusty earth. Tannins are drying and grippy, but well balanced with the flavors in a medium body. 13.5% abv. $24.99
This wine spent 3 to 9 months aging in vats, 50% with oak. Both wines are a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot.
This wine is warm, round and inviting without being even close to over ripe. It is balanced, complex, sippable and will pair with about anything you enjoy with a red wine. Pizza, pasta, roast pork or beef would be delicious with this wine.
Both Légende wines are very good and offer excellent value for the price. Sipping these wines makes me think of how I feel when I find a pair of gray suede booties on sale for 40% off. In my size.