I’m making a loaded Margherita pizza (I know that’s a contradiction in terms – please don’t go all pizza purist on me) and decided to try out 2 new Bordeaux I picked up recently from Trader Joe’s. These may be inexpensive, but they are from sub-appellations within the general Bordeaux AOC, so they aren’t mixed-up leftovers. Let’s try them out!
Chateau Amour (2009) Medoc, France – $10.00
Color: straightforward reddish purple, what you’d expect from left-bank Bordeaux.
Aroma: bright cherry and cedar, with some warm spice and red currant underneath.
Taste: Hmm, a little thin, a little green. The alcohol is high on this (13.5%) so I’m afraid that’s dominating the rest of the wine. Tannins are good – not great – but the oak is too noticeable on the finish.
Chateau Mayne Guyon (2010) Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux – $10.50
Color: a darker, very purple color. This appellation (which has changed names and boundaries several times in the last 2 decades) generally produces a more ‘international’ style of wine, and I suspect that’s what is going on here.
Aroma: blueberry and black fruit, including cassis, with a little white pepper. No blending information on the bottle, but I suspect a good dollop of Cabernet Franc in this.
Taste: Starts off very promising, but is a little dumb on the mid-palate and finish. It’s opening up with some air. Notes of black fruit, anise, and oak-moderated spice, with a much fuller body. It also has no heat, despite being higher in alcohol than the Chateau Amour.
Bottom line – the Chateau Amour is not recommended; you don’t see a lot of $10 Bordeaux, but you can certainly find things in the $14 range that are heads and shoulders better – not to mention other old-world style wines from South Africa, Spain, and even the US in that price range. The Chateau Mayne Guyon is growing on me as it opens up – it’s not good enough to go in the ‘recommended’ category, but if you’ve never had a decent Bordeaux, this would be a good way to get started. It has enough Old World style to differentiate itself from a straight California Cab, without being overly fussy.