Bordeaux’s Many Undiscovered Delicious Wines

by Ian D’Agata

Mention “Bordeaux” in any wine conversation and everybody in the room immediately thinks of Petrus, Château Cheval Blanc, Château Margaux, Château Haut-Brion and other similarly much-revered names associated with wines of near-mythical goodness. Which is totally understandable, perhaps even inevitable, given the greatness and historical importance of many wines made over hundred so years at those storied properties. Without any doubt whatsoever, Bordeaux can lay claim to any number of the world’s greatest dry red, dry white, and sweet white wines, so the reputation of many of the area and its estates is well-deserved, even warranted. However, the fact is that Bordeaux and its wine is really about so much more than just the hundred or so most famous estates populating the left and right banks.

Fact is, only as recently as the 1970s Cabernet Sauvignon (especially) never ripened especially well in most of the Bordeaux production area, a rather cold part of France in which the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon had a tough time in all but the best years. To help you put that statement in perspective, keep in mind that in the 1960s and 1970s, for example, there were only three good to great vintages over the ten years of each of those decades). This is the main reason why in Bordeaux monovariety Cabernet Sauvignon wines have never been neither common nor popular, and blends were always a thing: the variety needed to be blended with the softer, less tannic, earlier-ripening Merlot just so as to make a wine that was drinkable (never mind good). Clearly, the advent of climate change, an unfortunate and very worrisome happening in just about all respects, did bring about a change in fortunes for all those growing the Cabernet Sauvignon grape: what this means is that whereas before climate change only the very best terroirs allowed the making of fantastic wines, this is now possible in many other parts of previously weather-challenged Bordeaux Appellations.

And there are many, many Bordeaux Appellations, each of which makes many, many wines [for example, Bourg and Blaye alone (of the Côtes de Bordeaux) are home to some 850 wine producers]. Which also means there are an embarrassment of riches for you to choose from. Nowadays, you can find delicious wines made from even the lowliest of the Bordeaux Appellations, Bordeaux, but there are many others to pick from too. Not to mention that there are also many other categories of higher quality levels, such as the Cru Bourgeois, the Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels and even lesser-known smaller properties in the Grand Cru Classé areas such as Margaux and Saint-Emilion. The better properties in these less well-known Appellations usually produce wines that offer really great value but that are also stylish and full of character. Prices for these wines will always be reasonable, given that no matter how hard the property owners may try, no amount of knowledgeable viticulture and winemaking work can really make up for the deficit in prestige associated with an classed growth estate name of the highest pedigree or the prestige of an Appellation such as Pauillac. In fact, many of these properties are often referred to as “petit chateaux”, a highly disparaging term that for the sake of Bordeaux it is best most everyone, Bordelais included, stopped using once and for all. It follows that, by choosing one of the wines listed in this report, you will never win any bragging rights at dinners with wine collectors or even wine-loving friends: but you will gain a wonderful time in the company with a well-made wine that punches way above its weight class and that chances are high, given the generally lower alcohol levels and usually judicious use of oak that still characterizes most of Bordeaux’s wine production, will match very well with the dishes featured at your table. By the way, as an aside, many of Bordeaux’s lesser-known wine production zones are undescribably beautiful, and well worth a visit. For example, the aforementioned Blaye boasts a magnificent seventeenth century Citadelle fortress that is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and numerous areas along the Gironde river are of a scenic beauty hard to imagine. Until you see them that is.

The wines in this report were all tasted in Shanghai in the month of November 2022 in occasion of the “Bordeaux Undiscovered Roadshow 2022”, excellently organized by Ms. Morgane Yang and her team of CIVB.

Château Au Grand Paris 2021 Entre-Deux-Mers                                          88

Bright, pale yellow. Stone fruits, quinine, ginger, and nutmeg on the scented, subtle nose. Easygoing and tangy flavours of citrus and orchard fruits offer bracing fruitiness and good mineral grip on the bright long finish. I’d have liked a bit more flesh but this is pretty refreshing. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon made from a property that dates back to the eighteenth century, located in Cazaugitat near Sauveterre-de-Guyenne. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Château Ballan Larquette 2019 Sémillon Sauvignon Bordeaux Blanc         90

Bright, pale yellow. Lively, easygoing, pure aromas and flavours of yellow plum, lemon drop, gooseberries, fresh flowers and minerals. Firm and dry, with good juiciness and volume to the citrus peel and honeyed nuances that linger nicely on the bracing finish. A 50-50 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon planted on a clay-limestone plateau that offers plenty of early appeal and uncomplicated drinking but has enough stuffing such that it ought to prove rather versatile at the dining table (try it for example not just with fish dishes but also fairly strong cheeses such as Comté and Cantal). Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Chateau Baudan 2018 Listrac-Médoc                                         90

Bright ruby. Ripe aromas of black cherry, pepper, violet, and licorice. Juicy, spicy and fresh but at the same time delicately creamy too in a way that is typical of the year, offering a nice mix of dark fruits, spices and herbs. Closes long with a saline edge and smooth tannins. The property was founded in 1850 by Pierre Jumps and is still run by his descendants (after a long period of inactivity, the estate was taken over by Alain Blasquez, Pierre Jumps’ great-grandson, in 1993). As a curiosity, Chateau Baudan was named a Cru Bourgeois in 2003, but that qualification is not marked on the 2018’s front label, and neither is the accent on the “a” in the word “Château”. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Château Beaulieu 2020 Côtes de Bourg                                               89

Good red-ruby. Deep aromas of cassis, licorice and lead pencil. Enters fruity and suave, but slightly mute in the middle, with building minerality and fruity juiciness to the ripe black and blue fruit flavours. Offers classic red Bordeaux structure and spine, closing with sneaky, subtle persistence. Nicely done, just be careful when you buy because France is chock-a-block full of wine estates called “Chateau Beaulieu-something or other” so if it is this wine you want, then make sure that the white label shows a faint drawing of a château’s façade and reads “Château Beaulieu 2020 Grand Vin de Bordeaux” and nothing else (see photo in this article), or you’ll most likely end up getting a different wine than the one described here. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Château Bel-Air l’Espérance 2020 Entre-Deux-Mers Haut Benauge                 91

Bright straw yellow. Musky aromas and flavours of gooseberry, guava, forest floor, sage and lime. Ripe and sweet in the mouth, but with good acid lift that helps provide a light touch to the round ripe mouthfeel on the lengthy, fruity finish. Ready to go now, this is a knockout example of just how good a Bordeaux wine made with Sauvignon Gris, rather than the more common Sauvignon Blanc, can be. The property was created only recently, in 1989, by the Percier family that now farms vineyards not just in the Entre-Deux-Mers Haut-Benauge Appellation (the dash in between the words “Haut” and “Benauge” does not appear on the wine’s label) but in others as well, including Bordeaux and Bordeaux Haut-Benauge and even Crémant de Bordeaux. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Château Braude Fellonneau 2016 Haut-Médoc                                88

Bright good ruby. Reticent aromas of blackcurrant, black cherry, herbs and flint. Smooth flavours of cassis, blackberry and licorice are nicely extended on the smooth finish by lively acidity. From the same owners of Château Mongravey in Margaux, Braude Fellonneau was first created by Régis Bernaleau in 1983. Drinking window: 2023-2026.

Château Brulesécaille 2020 Blanc de Brulesécaille Côtes de Bourg Blanc          92

Bright straw yellow. Subtly leesy and grapey nuances to the aromas of pineapple, honeysuckle, ripe citrus fruit and sweet spices; at once floral and mineral, the enticing nose is complicated by hints of butter and vanillin spice. Then dense and vibrant, with very well-delineated flavours of fresh pineapple, gooseberry, and beeswax that carry nicely through on the rich palate that speaks of the Sauvignon Gris presence. The finish is long and features superb lingering perfume. Barrel fermented and aged in oak, this knockout white wine boasts real if sneaky complexity for a wine at this price point, making it an absolute steal for the price. I dare say that a lot of the 2020 Blanc de Brulesécaille’s uniqueness is due to the presence of Sauvignon Gris (beware that you will read on websites it is a Sauvignon Blanc wine only and that’s not correct) which gives it a rounder, more varied mouthfeel and much less of the usual one-dimensional organoleptic profile of many Sauvignon Blanc-only wines. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Château Cap Leon Veyrin 2018 Listrac-Médoc Cru Bourgeois Supérieur         91

Bright ruby. Pure, still youthful aromas of blackberry, cedar, graphite and cocoa. Fresh and tightly wound, showing a nicely primary dark fruit character and firm-edged but noble tannins that are starting to resolve and come around. The finish is floral and refined. This blend of 58% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Petit Verdot, aged for twelve months in 60% new oak barrels is quite polished and ready to drink now but can still develop some more and will age nicely. Family owned since 1810 and now run by Nathalie and Julien Meyre, the Château Cap Léon Veyrin was born when the holdings of Château Cap Léon and those of the Veyrin estate were joined. Before the advent of climate change, Listrac was always a fairly cold place in which Cabernet Sauvignon had trouble reaching optimal ripeness in most vintages. However, the vineyards of Cap Léon are located on the highest points of Listrac-Médoc, guaranteeing more sunlight and natural drainage, making it one of the higher-quality terroirs of the Appellation. Drinking window: 2023-2028.

Château Carmenère 2019 Médoc                                   89

Bright ruby. Herbal aromas of blackberry, raspberry, lead pencil and espresso. Linear and nicely concentrated in the mouth, but with slightly reticent flavours of dark berries and cherry thanks to firm acidity. The aftertaste is medium-long and lively. Despite its name and that the wine is in fact a blend of Carmenère, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, I find the Carmenère presence to be somewhat subdued, at least in this vintage. Ready to drink. This wine is part of the portfolio of wines of Domaine Boispertuis, established under new ownership in 2018. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Château Clarke 2016 Listrac-Médoc                     92

Bright ruby-red. Perfumed aromas of cassis, blackberry, cedar, herbs and spicy oak. Then rich, sweet and deep, with firm but harmonious acidity giving grip and verve to the dark plum, blueberry, lead pencil and cocoa flavours. Wonderfully concentrated, lively and very long for a Bordeaux at this price point. Great buy. Drinking window: 2022-2030.

Château Confidence 2016 Margaux                       87

Bright red. Aromas and flavours of dusty red cherries, forest floor and oak. Some hints of game and leather merge on the medium-long, slightly chewy finish. Drinking window: 2022-2025.

Château Croix de Cabaleyran 2018 Haut-Médoc               87

Good full medium ruby. Fresh aromas of cassis and flint, plus herbs. Silky in texture but less primary than other 2018 red Bordeaux wines and not showing quite the density and verve to its blackcurrant and tobacco flavors that the nose hinted at. Closes bright and medium-long. This is the second wine of the better-known Chateau Maurac and is essentially a blend of mostly Merlot with a little Cabernet Sauvignon. Drinking window: 2023-2026.

Château d’Agassac 2018 Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel            92

Good full dark ruby. Pure, perfumed aromas of blackcurrant, licorice, graphite, violet and minerals make for a very elegant nose. Then very pure, with sharply defined cassis, violet and mineral flavours that are both classy and very persistent. Conveys a rare lightness of being for many of today’s Bordeaux reds, finishing with noteworthy intensity of flavour but with a subtle, gentle quality that is absolutely captivating. Very well done and one of the best buys from Bordeaux in this vintage. Drinking window: 2023-2030.

Château d’Arsac 2021 Sauvignon Cuvée Céline Bordeaux Blanc          91

Vivid pale straw colour. Aromas of passion fruit, peach, honey and some vanilla. Ripe stone fruits, gooseberry and a hint of lime in the mouth with a buttery vanillin nuance in the background adding complexity and interest. Closes bright and long, with very good zip. 100% Sauvignon Blanc from sandy-gravel soils over marly calcareous rock, this is stainless steel fermented and partly aged in oak barriques (25%). Drinking window: 2022-2024.

Château d’Arsac 2018 Margaux Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel Bordeaux    89

Medium ruby-red. Spicy, floral aromas of blackcurrant, violet, licorice, iron shavings and black tea. Nicely concentrated but still somewhat tightly wound, with harmonious but lively acidity giving this an elegant aura. Finishes impressively juicy and bright for the year, with refined tannins. Not especially complex or nuanced, but offering plenty of stuffing, this will paitr very well with most grilled meat dishes you can think of. Drinking window: 2024-2030

Château d’Haurets 2021 Bordeaux Blanc                            89

Bright pale straw colour. Aromas and flavours of gooseberry, lime and apricot are zingy and precise. Closes long and zippy showcasing good grip and purity of flavour. The estate owns about fifteen hectares of white grapes (and another thirteen or so of red grapes) planted mostly to Sauvignon Blanc and a little Muscadelle and Semillon. This is lovely white wine considering its low cost. Part of the Ducourt portfolio of wines, this is stainless steel fermented and aged. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Château de Birazel 2018 Romane Fruits de Légende Bordeaux Blanc         90

Bright pale golden-tinged straw colour. Aromas and flavours of white peach, lime, beeswax and white flowers. Rich and round but with good lemony cut and nicely complicated by nuances of hazelnut and butter. The finish is long and supple. A blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris, this features avove average complexity and depth. The Château de Birazel was born in 2017, when Paul and Nicole Boeckx bought the domaine of Saint-Hilaire-de-la-Noaille. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Château de Lyde 2020 Cadillac                             91

Deep golden yellow colour. Marmelady aromas and flvours of orange reduction, peach, tropical fruit and honey, complicated by sweet spices. Luscious and rich in the mouth with similar flavours to the aromas and very good length on the ripe finish. This is a very good Bordeaux Blanc doux (sweet white wine), in the thicker, rich style of Cadillac as compared to that of Sauternes and especially Barsac. Could use a lick of acidity more for better zip and lift, but this is just fine as is; pair it with blue cheeses of even scallop or pumpkin dishes and you’ll have a feast. A beautiful seventeenth century (part of it dates at least back to 1622) edifice about twenty kilometers southeast of Bordeaux in the town of Baureich with vineyards planted on gravelly soil in one of the world’s best sweet white wine Appellation. It might be just my inability to navigate the internet correctly, but I was very disappointed to not find any mention whatsoever of this wine on the winery’s website, given that Cadillac has long been famous for its sweet late harvest white wines. Dry whites, rosés and red wines are neither what Cadillac is famous for nor of what I think of when Cadillac comes to mind. Drinking window: 2022-2028.

Château de Viaut 2020 Entre-Deux-Mers Bordeaux Blanc                    90

Pale straw hue. Fresh citrus, Asian pear, floral and herbal aromas are complemented by minerals. Lively on entry, then mineral, brisk and firm in the middle, with very good clarity and cut to the flavours that recall the aromas. Leaves an impression of energy on the bright medium-long, lemony clean finish. Drinking window: 2022-2024.

Château Domeyne 2018 Saint-Estèphe Bordeaux                             91

Bright ruby-red. Perfumed, floral aromas of cassis, licorice and minerals. Lively blackcurrant and blueberry flavours show excellent verve, thanks to lively acids and a pretty, very perfumed violet lift. Juicy but solidly structured in a classic Saint-Estèphe sort of way, but nicely ripe with smooth tannins providing backbone on the long close. Drinking window: 2022-2028.

Château du Moulin Rouge 2018 Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois Supérieur     91

Full ruby. High-pitched aromas of red- and blackcurrant, raspberry, sweet spices, violet and ink, plus a complicating hint of noble cocoa. Sweet and silky but also juicy and vinous, with harmonious acidity providing the flavours of blueberry pie and blackberry reduction with noteworthy clarity and cut. Boasts excellent balance and real purity of fruit not to mention mineral edginess on the long vibrant and cocoa-tinged finish. Excellent stuff here that hints at a significant Cabernet Franc presence. Located between Saint-Julien and Margaux, this property has been owned by the same family for thirteen generations. This 2018 is a really major-league wine and I wonder if I’m being too stingy with my score. Drinking window: 2023-2030.

Château Dutruch Grand Poujeaux 2018 Moulis-en-Médoc Bordeaux         90

Bright red-ruby. Complex, perfumed, showy aromas of raspberry, black cherry and smoke are complemented by a violet note. Dense and seamless, with impressive light on its feet quality. Firm acidity and elegant tannins contribute to an overall impression of finesse if not mind-bending power and size. Closes nicely persistent on the back end with a suave and fine quality. Blessed with vineyards on the plateau of Grand-Poujeaux, arguably the best part of the Moulis Appellation, this is a large thirty hectares family property that has long made very solid, classic Bordeaux wines that rarely disappoint. Drinking window: 2023-2027.

Château Escot 2015 Médoc Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux               89

Good full ruby. Aromas of cassis, licorice and exotic herbs on the tight nose. Then rather broad and large-scaled, with ripe dark berry and coffee flavors buffered by a strong tannic spine and harmonious acidity.  A rather powerful tannic wine that closes medium-long and clean. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Château Fontesteau 2018 Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois Supérieur         89

Bright medium ruby. Perfumed aromas of blackberry, raspberry, violet, minerals, and mint. Lively and seamless, with good inner-mouth perfume to the flavours of small berries and herbs. Finishes long and ripe. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Château Godard Bellevue 2016 Francs Côtes de Bordeaux                    88+

Bright red-ruby. Aromas and flavours of plum, blueberries, herbs and sweet spices. Well-balanced with polished tannins, strong suggestions of minerality and a light touch on the long finish make for a very graceful drink. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Château Haut Barrail 2018 Médoc Cru Bourgeois                           89+

Bright, full ruby. Ripe aromas of blackberry, violet and bitter chocolate. Velvety and dense but with very good verve thanks to nicely integrated acids and a vibrant floral character giving the middle palate terrific lift. Finishes plush and ripe, with noble but still youthfully chewy tannins and excellent length. Drinking window: 2022-2028. A great combination of sheer mouth-filling fruit and stylishness. Drinking window: 2022-2028.

Chateau Jean Dugay 2021 Bordeaux Blanc                                88

Vivid straw yellow. Easygoing approachable aromas and flavours of gooseberry, lichee and mango. Closes bright and fresh if not especially complex or long. Made with 100% Sauvignon Blanc (currently the young vines are roughly ten years old or so) grown on gravelly clay soils. Drinking window: 2022-2024.

Château Julia 2019 Haut-Médoc                                          88

Moderately saturated ruby. Aromas of blackberry, black cherry, violet, and minerals. Slightly clenched today, but with a tactile and deep middle palate offering slow-building flavours of herbs, minerals and dark fruit. Closes with ripe tannins and good purity of flavour. Drinking window: 2022-2027.

Château La Bretonnière 2019 Boismes Blaye-Côtes de Bordeaux         90

Good full ruby-red. Expressive nose combines dark plum, red cherry, blackberry, mocha, mace and minerals. Sweet and silky, with lovely inner-mouth perfume and sneaky complexity. Finishes very long with polished tannins and reminders of iron. Drinking window: 2023-2030.

Château La Gurgue 2018 Margaux Bordeaux                                  92

Good bright ruby. Captivating aromas of blackcurrant, strawberry, cedar, graphite, minerals and violet. Then very intensely flavoured and penetrating, with noble, concentrated and juicy flavours of red and dark fruits, aromatic spices, and crushed rocks. This showed terrific subtle sweetness and impressive complexity as it opened in the glass. At once dense and elegant, the long finish features firm but ripe tannins and uncanny persistence of flavour. Terrific La Gurgue, one of the best in recent memory and without doubt one of the Best-Buy Bordeaux wines of the 2018 vintage. Drinking window: 2023-2030.

Château La Levrette 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux                90

Light straw yellow with golden tinges. Open knit pear, peach and nectarine aromas, with a hint of minerals.  Fresh and floral, with the orchard fruit flavours lifted by easygoing acidity and buffered by rounder notes of butter and hazelnut. Closes crisp and understated. 100% Sauvignon Blanc that was first made with the 2006 vintage, this is vinified and aged about five to six months in oak barrels. Drinking window: 2022-2024.

Château La Tuilière 2018 Côtes de Bourg                          90

Dark ruby. Aromas of sappy berries, minerals and potpourri. Nicely lively yet dense in the mouth, with broad, powerful flavors of blackberry, minerals and cocoa. Lovely, extract-rich wine that ought to age better than similar wines at this price point but is also just lovely to drink now. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Château Ladignac 2018 Médoc                                      88

Deep ruby. Crushed black fruits and dark chocolate on the nose and in the mouth, but with good floral lift. Simple and easygoing with polished tannins and plenty of zippy fruit on the medium-long finish.  Drtinking window: 2022-2025.

Château Lalande 2018 Listrac-Médoc Cru Bourgeois              90

Vivid red-ruby. Exotic, liqueur-like aromas of red cherry, raspberry and potpourri. Plenty of volume on entry, with nicely lush dark fruit and sweet spice flavours buffered by palate-dusting tannins. The 2018 is a nice blend of 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% de Petit Verdot. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Château Lamarque 2016 Côtes de Bordeaux                      91

Medium-deep ruby. Nicely pitched aromas of blackberry, raspberry, smoke, cedar and mint. Multilayered and lush but sappy and well-delineated, with a building austere quality to the pure flavours of small plums and dark berries, complicated by oak spices and herbs. Closes with big but even tannins. Currently a bit unforthcoming in the middle, so this promising wine still needs a bit more time than many other wines in this report, but it has a promising future ahead. A world of caution: don’t confuse this wine with other similarly named Bordeaux wines. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Château Landereau 2021 Entre-Deux-Mers Bordeaux Blanc                88

Bright, pale yellow. Restrained aromas of orchard fruits, ginger, and white flowers. Then riper and suppler in the mouth, with flavours that run towards green apple and pear, with modest hints of tropical fruit. Finishes lively and medium-long. Drinking window: 2022-2024.

Château Larose-Perganson 2018 Haut-Médoc                                  89

Inky-ruby. Fresh, fruity aromas and flavours of blackberry, crushed strawberry, grilled herbs, spicecake plus a subtle touch of vanillin oak. Medium-bodied and light on its feet, this closes long and fresh with very good polish and texture. The winery is excellently situated, not far from Pauillac’s famous Château Latour; the very successful 2018 is a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon and 44% Merlot and was aged for fourteen months in 30% new oak. Drinking window: 2022-2027.

Château Lassus 2019 Médoc Cru Bourgeois                90

Full ruby. Pungent nuances of cherry, licorice, iron, and espresso. Tightly wound today and a bit muscular as is the style of the vintage, but with pure, intense dark berry, herb and mineral flavors currently under wraps. Firmly structured and impressively long on the juicy finish. This is a 55% Merlot and 45% cabernet Sauvignon blend partly aged in barriques (65%). Château Lassus has a long and distinguished history, even if it was not always known by that name. The property was originally mentioned in the first edition of Bordeaux Et Ses Vins by Charles Cocks in 1850 when it was owned by P. Brion, but it was only with the fifth edition of the guide (in 1886) that the domaine appears under its current name, Château Lassus. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Chateau Le Bourdieu 2018 Médoc                                90

Good full ruby. Perfumed nose of black and red fruits, with hints of graphite and forest floor. Broad and nicely textured, offering a nice light touch to its classic flavours of blackcurrant, tobacco and licorice. Closes long and still youthfully chewy with captivating spicy lift. The 2018 is reportedly a blend of mostly Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with a dollop of Petit Verdot. Located close to the village of Valeyrac in the Médoc, the estate’s building was built in 1830 by Phillipe Delacourt, Lord of Bourdieu, in the style of a nineteenth century manor house. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Château Le Reysse 2014 Médoc                                     90

Dark red-ruby. Nicely expressive aromas and flavours of cassis, oak, graphite and coffee. Smoothly textured and vibrant on the long nobly tannic close. A 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot blend (though I have also seen reports of it being a 60-40 mix) aged for twenty months in new French oak barriques, this wine is part of the Vignobles Paeffgen portfolio of wines and has to be considered a real success in what was a difficult vintage. Drinking window: 2022-2024.

Château Les Carreyes 2019 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux              89

Deep ruby. Aromas and flavours of plum, dark berries and herbs. Polished and approachable with nice lift on the medium-long close. An 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon blend that is easygoing and juicy. Part of the Vignoble Feydieu portfolio of wines, such as Le Taillou (the estate was founded in the 1950s by Yvan and Emilienne Feydieu). Drinking window: 2022-2025.

Château Liouner 2018 Médoc Cru Bourgeois                     89

Deep ruby. Bright nose hints at dark plum, tobacco, tar, and violet. Boasts a subtle sweetness and a meaty component thanks to the ripe Merlot with flavours of dark fruit, cocoa and coffee dominating. The aftertaste is long and has no shortage of verve. Satisfying Médoc. Drinking window: 2023-2028.

Château Lousteauneuf 2019 Médoc Cru Bourgeois Supérieur              88

Ruby-purple. Lively nose offers violet pastille and licorice, plus some underbrush on the mostly dark fruit nose. Thick and rather powerful, with a firm mineral and tannic spine giving shape to the slightly reticent fruit flavours. Chewy but pliant and offering an enticing inner-mouth floral quality, this closes long and subtle, if a little austere in keeping with the characteristics of the 2019 vintage. An atypical blend for Bordeaux of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and a little Petit Verdot. Drinking window: 2023-2028.

Château Lusseau 2016 Prestige Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux               89

Saturated dark ruby-red. Noble aromas of cassis, blackberry, violet, and iron that showcase a nice restraint. Then tightly wound and concentrated, with austere but refined flavours of dark berries herbs and minerals. Closes with nicely delineated repeating flavours of dark berries and minerals and very good length. Beware: don’t confuse this wine with the many other similarly named properties such as those in Saint-Emilion and Graves. Drinking window: 2023-2028.

Château Magnol 2018 Cru Bourgeois Haut-Médoc Bordeaux               88

Full medium ruby-red. Nicely pitched aromas of boysenberry, smoke, and torrefaction. Good density and weight in the mouth, with spicy oak accents. Finishes with ripe tannins and very good length. Drinking window: 2023-2028.

Château Malescasse 2019 Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel           91

Medium-deep ruby. Perfumed red cherry and blackberry aromas and flavours are complicated by exotic spice notes of nutmeg and sandalwood, plus a suggestion of iron. Juicy and sharply delineated, with ripe acidity that give this delicious wine a compelling penetrating quality and noteworthy lift. Finishes with polished tannins and excellent length and grip. An intensely flavoured and stylish Bordeaux red that offers a lot of wine for the money and is an excellent showing in a difficult year. Drinking window: 2022-2030.

Château Maubert 2021 Bordeaux Blanc Sec                              90

Lively straw colour. Peach, apricot and roasted, vanillin oak on the nose. Nicely concentrated and seamless flavours of white peach, lemon and green apple. Finishes classically dry and glyceral. The 2021 vintage is a very good one for Bordeaux’s dry white wines. Drinking window: 2022-2025.

Château Morange 2016 Sainte-Croix-du-Mont Bordeaux Blanc Doux        92

Pale, bright yellow-gold. Very pure and precise nose suggests white and yellow peach, lime, mango, honey, vanilla, lemon curd, beeswax, and botanical herbs. Then intense and penetrating, with a powerful, sweet three-dimensional impression of extract and nicely delineated tropical fruit, beeswax and honeyed flavours. This blend of 95% Semillon, 2% Sauvignon and 2% Muscadelle finishes suave, long, bright and luscious. Though not exactly a monster of concentration or complexity, I love this sweet wine’s uncanny balance that showcases just how fantastic Semillon wines can be: this is a lovely, easy-drinking sweet wine that is neither cloying nor excessively sweet and will pair remarkably well with a number of non-dessert dishes, including scallops, shrimps and aged cheeses. The wine is part of the Boudat-Cigana portfolio, a family-run company that farms and makes wines from four different territories (Mourens, Langon, Saint-Emilion and of course Sainte-Croix-du-Mont) and many different Appellations (including Saint-Emilion, Graves, Graves Supérieur, Entre-Deux-Mers and others). Drinking window: 2022-2029.

Château Noillac 2018 Médoc                                   91

Bright deep purple-ruby. Aromas and flavours of crushed blueberry, blackberry reduction, smoke, iron and coffee. Thick yet light on its feet with a polished tannic spine nicely framing the fruit-forward flavours on the long noble finish that features a repeating smoky nuance harkening back to something you might taste more commonly in Pessac. Château Noillac is a Cru Bourgeois (Cru Bourgeois Supérieur since 2018) that has been the property of the Pages family since 1983. The 2018 is extremely successful and is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with a little Petit Verdot. Drinking window: 2022-2027.

Château Paveil de Luze 2018 Margaux Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel          92

Good full lustrous ruby. Perfumed aromas of blackcurrant, sandalwood and violet, complicated by a hint of iron. Lush, sweet and very light on its feet, with captivating floral lift to its blue fruit, black pepper and spice flavors. Seamless and sexy, blackberry, flowers and noble spicy cocoa nuances on the long finish add to this wine’s charm and immediate drinkability, two qualities that I find repeatedly in the wines of Paveil de Luze that are in my view somewhat underrated given their tendency to impress more with elegance than brute force. I have long been a big fan of this estate’s wines and this really lovely 2018 does not nothing but confirm my favourable impressions of this domaine’s work. Drinking window: 2023-2028.

Château Peyredon Lagravette 2019 Haut- Médoc Cru Bourgeois         88

Good full ruby. Spicy black cherry, blackberry coulis, mocha and graphite on the nose. Very good intensity and brightness in the mouth, with vibrant black cherry and cocoa flavors and powerful underlying spine. In keeping with the difficult 2019 vintage, this seems a bit less consistently ripe than better years such as 2015 and 2016, but finishes long and subtle, with fairly polished tannins. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Château Roquefort 2021 Sauvignon Blanc Les Roches Blanches Bordeaux Blanc       90

Luminous straw-yellow. Grapefruit, white peach and white flowers on the nose and in the mouth. Closes fresh and medium-long. From 25 years old vines planted on chalky-clay soils at Castelviel where Sauvignon Blanc thrives, this is a lovely, classically dry white wine. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Château Saint-Martin 2016 Listrac-Médoc                                90

Bright, full ruby. Clean aromas of cassis, blueberry, violet, leather and graphite. Fine-grained and light on its feet, with a slightly high-toned quality to the dark berry, leather, chocolate and oak spice flavours. Finishes bright, brisk and long, with serious tannic spine, and noteworthy lift. Drinking window: 2023-2028.

Château Thieuley 2020 Sauvignon-Semillon Bordeaux Blanc                91

Bright pale straw colour. Vibrant aromas of grapefruit, white peach, lime and minerals, with nice lift provided by nuances of orange blossom. Rounder and riper in the mouth than the nose suggested possibly because of the Sauvignon Gris, with a layered, textured mouthfeel of sneaky complexity that lasts and lasts. A blend of 45% Sémillon, 40 % Sauvignon Blanc, and 15 % Sauvignon Gris planted on clay-limestone soil, this wine is almost always one of Bordeaux’s best buys and it’s no different in the 2020 vintage. Lovely stuff. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Château Vieux Landat 2019 Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois               89

Saturated red-ruby. Ripe yet vibrant aromas and flavours of black and red fruits complicated by minerals, violet and dark chocolate. Then pliant and lush, with polished tannins and plenty of length on the lively, precise finish. This 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Petit Verdot blend is very nicely done in a difficult year. Certified organic, the estate belongs to the Signolle family since 1999. Readers might be interested to know that the estate, now run by Dianne Signolle, also makes micro-cuvées of monovariety wines (Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and of Merlot), that are worth hunting down and not hust because they are a rarity in Bordeaux. Drinking window: 2022-2026.


Celene Cremant de Bordeaux Blanc de Blancs Cuvée Gaĭa Brut          89

Bright pale yellow with a steady stream of small bubbles. Peach and honey on the nose and in the mouth. Boasts zingy freshness but a smooth round taste and lingers nicely on the close. Crémant de Bordeaux is a relatively new wine category for this prestigious wine production area, having been first created only in 1990; these are sparkling wines made by the classic method of fermentation in the bottle in the manner of Champagne. And with wines as good as this one, I’d say the category has quite the future. Drinking window: 2022-2024.

Cheval Quancard 2020 Cuvée Clémence Entre-Deux-Mers Bordeaux Blanc           88

Bright, pale color. Aromas of peach, citrus peel and talcum powder. Then spiced yellow plum, apple and mint in the mouth, with a light dusting of freshly cut grass and gooseberry reduction. Closes medium-long and distinctly fresh but supple. Pierre Quancard started this successful family business back in 1844 and still today the company is making very good wines at highly reasonable prices: for example, this Cuvée Clémence is a very good white wine, approachable, easy to drink and highly enjoyable, for the money. Drinking window: 2022-2024.

Clos des Servitudes 2018 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux                     91

Bright dark ruby. Aromas of kirsch, cassis, licorice, dark chocolate syrup and vanillin oak, along with an exotic hint of peach and blueberry pie. Relatively fat, plush and thick, with sweet blueberry and spicy flavors and just enough lift so as not to seem over the top. The palate-staining long close features substantial but smooth tannins that coat the entire palate. Those who like big fleshy ripe red wines will adore this, and even though I personally would have preferred a little more restraint, it’s hard to argue with just how good this Bordeaux red is. Clos des Servitudes is a mostly Merlot wine and is part of the Olivier Fleury portfolio of five domaines and their wines. Drinking window: 2022-2028.

Domaine de Ricaud 2020 Entre-Deux-Mers Bordeaux Blanc                 89

Lively straw colour. Stone fruits, grapefruit and gooseberries are enlivened by hints of beeswax and peach. Juicy, tight and nicely concentrated, with terrific inner-mouth focus and energy. Finishes medium-long and easygoing. Reportedly, the 2020 is a blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon (though the vineyard is planted to a pretty even mix of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, plus some Muscadelle). Owned by Vignobles Chaigne, don’t confuse this winery with the similarly-named Château de Ricaud of the Cadillac appellation and owned by Dourthe. Drinking window: 2022-2024.

Domaine Haut Ventenac 2021 L’Autrement Côtes de Bordeaux                             89

Bright ruby. Perfumed aromas and flavours of cocoa, redcurrant, violet, and coffee, plus a sprinkling of mineral dust for good measure. Crunchy and fresh on the long vibrant close. A fifty-fifty blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot aged six months in stainless steel, this is made without added sulfites, but tastes remarkably pure and clean, with none of the off-odours that often plague non-sulfur or low-sulfur wines. Previous front labels carried the name of the Francs-Côtes de Bordeaux Appellation at the bottom but I did not see this mention on the front label of the 2021 wine. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Jean-Baptiste Audy NV Crémant de Bordeaux Brut                       91

Bright straw yellow with small bubbles rising quickly and steadily to the top expanding in a nice frothy mousse. Delicate aromas and flavours of white peach, nectarine, pear and vanilla. Creamy yet lifted in the mouth, with very good clarity and cut, there’s something truly captivating about this. Lingers nicely on the bright, focused finish. I think this is knockout for the money. A 70% Semillon and 30% Muscadelle blend (though I have also seen this reported as 100% Semillon, so beware), this is remarkably good for a sparkler at this price point. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Drinking window: 2022-2027.


Ian D'Agata

Editor-in-Chief of Terroir Sense Wine Review
President of Terroir Sense Academy
Vice President of Association Internationale des Terroirs
Chief Scientific Officer of TasteSpirit

Ian D’Agata has been writing and educating about wines for over thirty years. Internationally recognized as an distinguished expert, critic and writer on many wine regions, his two most recent, award winning books Native Wine Grapes of Italy and Italy's Native Wine Grape Terroirs (both published by University of California Press) are widely viewed as the "state of the art" textbooks on the subject. The former book won the Louis Roederer International Wine Awards Book of the Year in 2015 and was ranked as the top wine books of the year for the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times and the New York Times, while the latter was named among the best wine books of the year by Food & Wine Magazine and the NY Times.

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    • Yes, it was long overdue and I will make sure it is an annual fixture here. I love Bordeaux’s wines and the good thing is that we don’t all need to spend an arm ad a leg to drink well, given the myriad properties in the Medoc, Graves, EDM, and the right bank that make many excellent wines. Ian

Ian D'Agata