Affordable and Bordeaux are words which are rarely seen together.  With first growths, super seconds, and right bank darling’s prices climbing higher and higher with each “vintage of the century,” it leaves one to wonder if they can afford a decent bottle of Bordeaux at all?

With that in mind, I set out to look for more affordable Bordeaux based on a couple of criteria:

1. Bottles needed to be under $50 (I know that seems like a lot of loot, but by Bordeaux standards that is actually pretty reasonable).

2.  I  would look for bottles with some age on them, at least seven years, so 2005 was the most recent vintage I was willing to consider.

Well, I am happy to report that I was actually surprised at some of the results I found.  I definitely tried to look for more “classic” producers; ones that don’t pump up the wines too much with over extracted over ripe fruit with too much new French oak.  And by looking for “older” vintages, ones that don’t have the hype of 2009 and 2010, and I was able to find some decent stuff.  I didn’t think I liked Bordeaux that much anymore, maybe I was wrong.  What I can say is that good Bordeaux definitely benefits from age, and I would recommend looking for about 10 years as a good bench mark in good vintages, and even further for legendary vintages.

Chateau La Vieille Cure 2001 – Fronsac ~$35.00

Dark sweet fruit, earth, wood spice, hints of menthol, and lite dried fruits.  Moderate tannins, moderate acidity, with a persistent and spicy finish.  The La Vieille Cure could continue to age well for a good 5-10 years.  74% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Good stuff, a stand out.  RECOMMENDED

Chateau Larose Trintaudon 2005 Haut Médoc – Cru Bourgeois ~$17.00

Rustic earth, smoke, under brush, truffles, dark stone fruit, herbs, menthol/liquorish.  A classic Bordeaux profile, but questionable techniques such as mechanical harvest and selected yeasts might be holding it back from being even better.  One thing Larose Trintaudon does have going for it is the lower percentage of new barrels being used; somewhere around 20-25%.  All things considered, there is a good classic bargain here.  I have tried the Larose Trintaudon 2005 on a couple of occasions with a similar impression.  RECOMMENDED

Chateau Les Ormes de Pez 2004 Saint Estephe – Cru Bourgeois ~$35.00

The 2004 Les Ormes de Pez is a bit restrained on the nose, with lavender, lite purple and red fruit, lite spiced French oak.  Chocolate mocha notes emerge with time, as do cocoa and fig, and it gains some richness.  Balanced, classic, and easy to appreciate.  RECOMMENDED

Chateau Sénéjac 2005 Haut Médoc – Cru Bourgeois Superieur ~$30.00

Hints of spiced earth, Porcini, tart dark red fruits.  A silky nose.  Savory with decent acidity and tannins.  A straight shooter, but could use a bit more individuality; the 2005 Chateau Sénéjac is balanced and easy to appreciate.  RECOMMENDED

Chateau du Tetre 2005 Margaux – Grand Cru Classé ~$49.00

Garnet with purple hues.  Hints of earth and cherries jubilee like fruit, cassis, with a hint of menthol, and savory wood spice.  A bit more modern, but not over done.   Some decent perfume, as a Margaux should be.  Not my favorite, but wouldn’t kick it out of bed either.  All things considered, the Chateau du Tetre may a bit too pricey given the quality to price ration.  RECOMMENDED

Chateau Camensac 2005 Haut Medoc – Grand Cru Classé ~$35.00

The 2005 Camensac is all red and purple fruits, lavender, and lite savory notes.  Balanced, a straight shooter, but in need of a bit more character.  Easy to drink and appreciate, but really could use a bit of terroir to take it to the next level.  RECOMMENDED