Many of the world’s most expensive wines come from France’s Bordeaux. Famously divided into the Left and Right Banks by the Gironde and Dordogne rivers, the region’s red wines are primarily made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, though Malbec and other varieties are allowed in the final blend.
But you don’t have to look towards the top shelf for high-quality Bordeaux offerings. In the Left Bank’s Médoc appellation, you can find the Cru Bourgeois, family estates that date to the Middle Ages. These families acquired great vineyards throughout the centuries and are now some of the most affordable Bordeaux labels. Here are eight of our top Cru Bourgeois bottles to seek out.
Château Côtes de Blaignan 2016 Cru Bourgeois (Médoc); $15, 91 points. The 30-acre estate, owned by the same family since the 19th century, is on one of the gravel outcrops that indicate quality in the Médoc. This wine has ripe berry fruits, rich tannins and a juicy, smoky character that makes it a classic. Drink from 2021. Best Buy. –Roger Voss
Château Fonréaud 2017 Cru Bourgeois (Listrac-Médoc); $29, 91 points. This estate is home of the Chanfreau family that owns several chateaus in Listrac and neighboring Moulis. While the wine does show its wood aging, it also brings out smooth black fruits and ripe tannins. It will develop into a richly structured wine that will age well. Drink from 2023. Editors’ Choice. –R.V.
Château du Retout 2017 Cru Bourgeois (Haut-Médoc); $25, 91 points. This is a dense blend, with more than 80% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is full of tannins as well as bold black fruits. The balance that is already in place assures aging potential. Drink from 2022. –R.V.
Château Petit Bocq 2017 Cru Bourgeois (Saint-Estèphe); $27, 92 points. With all the impressive Saint-Estèphe tannins to the fore, this is a seriously structured wine. It also has density and solid black fruits that are ready to develop into a rich, full wine. Drink from 2023. –R.V.
Château La Fleur Peyrabon 2017 Cru Bourgeois (Pauillac); $29, 92 points. A 17-acre portion of the Peyrabon vineyard lies in Pauillac and is made into a separate wine. This latest release with 61% Cabernet Sauvignon is smooth, sumptuous with big tannins and black-currant flavors. With its concentration and great fruits, it will age well. Drink from 2023. Cellar Selection. –R.V.
Château Vernous 2017 Cru Bourgeois (Médoc); $25, 90 points. A blend with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, this ripe, structured wine is full of satisfying black fruits and acidity. They go with the dryness of tannins to give a wine that has a promising future. Drink from 2022. –R.V.
Château Castera 2017 Cru Bourgeois (Médoc); $28, 90 points. This 155-acre estate dates back to the Middle Ages. Today, the modernization of the vineyard has resulted in an accessible wine that combines fine tannins and ripe black fruits. This wine has some of the freshness of the vintage although it does need to age. Drink from 2022. –R.V.
Château Maucamps 2017 Cru Bourgeois (Haut-Médoc); $27, 91 points. Situated in the village of Macau just south of Margaux, the 47-acre vineyard has produced this wood-aged wine that shows plenty of ripe fruits. A touch of licorice goes with juicy blackberry fruits and acidity to balance the wine. It has a good future and this wine should be ready from 2023. –R.V.