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Bordeaux on a Budget

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The best-known red wines from the Bordeaux region come with a luxury price tag. But there are decent crus out there that don’t require you to take out a second mortgage. Just check out our seven recommendations under CHF 50. Bordeaux is still very much the home of fine wine. Savouring a mature Château Latour or a Château Margaux will be on the bucket list of any true wine connoisseur. Unfortunately, the most prestigious labels in the French wine-growing region on the Atlantic coast come with one major downside. All the hype and global demand has driven the prices up dramatically in recent years. A Premier Grand Cru Classé, the highest classification awarded to Bordeaux wines, will set you back a good CHF 600 or 700 a bottle depending on the vintage.

And yet outside of the circle of unaffordable wine legends and prestigious status symbols, there are plenty of delicious fine wines coming out of this wine-growing area covering some 120,000 hectares at reasonable prices. Sure, lots of the unknown wine-growers struggle to cover their costs, but there are so many reputable châteaux out there producing exceptional crus. And once you’ve discovered them, you’ll realise that they are offering extraordinary value for money especially in successful years like 2015 and 2016.

Bordeaux wines tend to be made of a blend of grape varieties. In the Médoc region on the left bank of the Gironde Estuary, Cabernet Sauvignon is the star of the show, with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot as supporting acts. Over in St.-Emilion and Pomerol on the right bank, though, Merlot takes centre stage. People often forget that good white wines are produced in the Bordeaux region too. So we’ve been sure to include one in our seven recommendations under CHF 50 for you.

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Château Phélan-Ségur St. Estèphe
– 2016

This Cru Bourgeois is a fantastic choice, boasting complex flavours, vigour, sophistication and a lingering aftertaste in this excellent year. Good ageing potential.

CHF 42.90, flaschenpost.ch

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Château Cantemerle Haut-Médoc
– 2016

This Grand Cru Classé is rarely in the spotlight, which doesn’t make much sense considering that this vineyard produces complex wines with a subtle tannin structure, finesse and depth if this example is anything to go by.

CHF 38, bindella.ch

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Grand Vin Sec de Lafaurie-Peyraguey Château Laufaurie-Peyraguey, Sauternes
– 2019

With sweet wines out of favour right now, vineyards are focusing their efforts on dry white wine. This cuvée of Sémillon and Sauvignon blanc has a complex aroma, marked acidity, minerality and a lingering aftertaste.

CHF 42, denzweine.ch

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Château Croix de Mai Médoc
– 2016

This excellent wine from the left bank has an unusually high proportion of Merlot at 90%. It is rich with ripe fruit and soft tannins. Ready to drink with reserves.

CHF 28, smithandsmith.ch

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Château Moulin Riche St. Julien
– 2015

The owner of the famous Château Léoville-Poyferré is behind this vineyard too. That can only mean good things for this deliciously medium-bodied and well-balanced wine, which has plenty of finesse and is easy to drink.

CHF 45, martel.ch

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Château Petit Gravet Ainé St. Emilion
– 2018

This is one of the few wines with Cabernet Franc accounting for 80% of the grapes. This high proportion gives rise to a standalone organic wine with complex flavours that could almost be confused for a Burgundy.

CHF 45, gerstl.ch

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Château Mongiron La Fleur Bordeaux Supérieur
– 2018

There is no end of little-known vineyards in this particular appellation tier. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. And this complex, full-bodied and well-balanced find serves as perfect proof of that.

CHF 38, bauraulacvins.ch

Words Peter Keller

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