Bargain Basement Bordeaux

The Bordeaux region of France produces some of the most expensive wines in the world but there are many “value priced” Bordeaux’s. And you just may find a gem. So let’s try a couple.

The first is a $12.95 Château Les Sablonnets. In colour it is a very dark red almost purple. On the nose very lush notes of blackberry, black cherry with a twist of black licorice. The lushness indicates a high percentage of Merlot. The intensity and color is courtesy of the Malbec.  There is also some Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

On the palate there is no doubt this is full bodied wine. The tannins are light and dusty. There are notes of cassis, blackberry, black cherry with a bit of chalkiness and dark cholate. As our weather here in Southern Ontario starts chilling down a bit you might appreciate the full-bodied nature of the wine. It has a short finish. I would pair with Turkish Swiss Chard or roast lamb. Here is a recipe for the Swiss Chard https://www.saveur.com/skillet-braised-swiss-chard-recipe/. Only the freshest local Swiss Chard will do.

Is this a gem. I think not but it is highly drinkable. Drink before the end of 2021.

(Chateau Les Sablonnets 2019, AOP Bordeaux, JMVB, Sauvterre-de-Guyene, France, $12.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 18780, 750 mL, 14%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 89/100).

We move to a $15.95 2017 Chateau de Ribebon hoping for a Bordeaux low priced miracle. It is garnet in colour and a bit earthy on the nose. Loads of blueberry, black cherry in a slightly smoky framework. On the palate light tannins with an uplift of smoke, ripe cherry and dark chocolate. Short finish. I think this might improve with a couple of years in the bottle. I think the blueberry is a result of Cabernet Sauvignon and the smoke and chocolate a result of Cabernet Franc in the blend which unfortunately is not described on the label. With a bit of research, I see in addition to the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc there is some Merlot but I can’t pick much of it out.

How can I sum this wine up? At moments it is intriguing and quirky. It is of good quality and well made but will it take you to the moon? I think not. But it will be a worthy match for most grilled meats and spicy poultry including beer can chicken which s politically incorrect it seems. Give me a break. James Suckling gives it a 90 which historically indicates I would give it an 88. However give me a moment while I score it. It gets an 89. I seem to be caught on the treadmill of 89-point wines. Is the result of globalization of production methods and travelling winemakers?

(Château de Ribebon 2017, AC Bordeaux Supérieur, Alain Aubert Propietaire, Saint Mange de Castillon, France, $15.95, 750 mL, 13.5%, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 12281, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 89/100).

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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