For many people, the annual holiday dinner is one giant, cozy affair, with impressive roasts taking centerstage, surrounded by crowd-pleasing sides and hor d’oeuvres. If you’re hosting or attending a traditional feast this season and wonder what wine to pour, look no further than Bordeaux.
France’s largest and arguably most important wine region, Bordeaux is still considered by many to be the benchmark of global winemaking. Don’t let its storied reputation put you off, however. Incredible values can be found throughout the region. To help you navigate your local wine shop shelves, we’ve gathered the top Bordeaux wines we’re drinking now.
Reviews by Roger Voss
Château Pey de Pont 2010 Médoc, $19; 91 points. This is an impressive, big and broad wine. It’s full of dusty tannins and ripe, rich black fruits. Solid with spice from the wood aging, it is concentrated and holds fine aging potential. The Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend gives the firm structure that will allow it to develop well. Drink from 2017. Editors’ Choice.
Château Castera 2011 Médoc, $25; 90 points. Ripe plum fruits give this big and fruity wine from the 130-acre Castéra vineyard a rich character. The structure provides a fine support with tannins that bring out the concentrated blackberry fruits. It’s full of potential; drink from 2018.
Château Amour 2010 Médoc, $NA; 89 points. This firmly tannic blend of 50-50 Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is still developing. While its juicy black currant fruits are right there, it needs another few years to soften the dry, hard-edged tannins and minerality. The juicy acidity at the end promises the wait will be worth it.
Château Haut-Logat 2010 Haut-Médoc, $24; 91 points. A wine that is rich in both tannins and ripe fruit. The 45% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend gives the concentration of the wine, with spice and black berry fruits that are given an extra richness by the intense dark plums. The wine needs aging, so drink from 2018. Editors’ Choice. —R.V.
Château Gramond 2011 Haut-Médoc, $30; 90 points. Powerfully tannic, this dense and firm wine is dark in both color and fruit flavors. Tannins dominate the structure, giving a solid core to a wine that will certainly age. It has richness, juicy berry fruits and plums shining with acidity. Drink from 2018. Editors’ Choice.
Château le Moulin d’Ulysse 2011 Haut-Médoc, $40; 89 points. From a Merlot-dominated, 24-acre vineyard this is a strongly mineral wine, with young, dark tannins and a powerful structure. A more juicy, fruity side brings out black currants and berries. Together the structure and the fruit promise good aging. Drink from 2017.
Other Left Bank
Château Labégorce Margaux 2010 Zédé de Labégorce (Margaux), $40; 92 points. This is the second wine of Château Labégorce. It has much of the elegance of the top wine with firm tannins and generous fruits kept in stylish proportion. Black currant and berry fruits lie under the dark, dry exterior. The wine is dense, needing several years’ aging. Drink from 2018.
Château Bel-Air Ortet 2011 Saint-Estèphe, $32; 89 points. Still firm, this has dark chocolate and polished wood flavors, as well as dark plums and berries. With the tight acidity, it’s a wine for aging, dark and concentrated for the future. Drink from 2018.
Château Pibran 2010 Château Tour Pibran (Pauillac), $35; 88 points. The second wine of Château Pibran, this is ripe, juicy and attractive now. Black and red fruits burst from the glass, giving a rich character. That is balanced with refreshing acidity and a light tannic character. The wine will develop quickly, so drink from 2017.
Château de Ferrand 2010 Saint-Émilion, $NA; 91 points. Very rich, this ripe and rounded wine is typical of the powerful 2010 vintage. It’s dense and concentrated, packed with black plum and sweet berry fruits. It shows a dense structure along with juicy fruits. It could be over the top, but the acidity and tannins hold it back. Drink from 2018.
Château Ambe Tour Pourret 2011 Saint-Émilion, $38; 90 points. Rich, spicy and perfumed, this delicious wine is developing well and also has aging potential. It is packed with berry and plum fruits that parade with acidity and tannins that act as a support. It’s still dense and the balanced fruit and tannins will allow it to age. Drink from 2018. Cellar Selection.
Château de l’Annonciation 2011 Saint-Émilion, $65; 90 points. This is a firm wine with ripe Merlot fruits that are still sheathed in tannins. Densely textured, it is rich with berries and a stalky character that needs to soften. Wait for this solid, concentrated and ageworthy wine until 2017.
Château Bonfort 2012 Montagne-Saint-Émilion, $20; 88 points. This ripe, smooth and generous wine also has a good sense of elegance. Acidity, ripe berry and plum fruits and a core of tannins all hang together well to give a wine that’s both dense and sophisticated. Drink from 2016.
Château Plaisance 2011 Montagne-Saint-Émilion, $25; 88 points. A complex, ageworthy wine, this is powered by its tannins, its dark berry fruits and the layers of wood aging. It’s rich and sweet, the fruit balancing the structure and given a fresh touch with black currant acidity. Drink from 2017.
Château Haut-Plaisance 2012 Montagne-Saint-Émilion, $20; 85 points. Dominated by 80% Merlot with licorice and dark chocolate, the wine has strong flavors of new wood that give a vanilla and caramel character. It is solid, with a strong tannic presence. Put all this together and this is a wine that is likely always to be firm.
Château des Landes 2011 Cuvée Prestige (Lussac Saint-Émilion), $40; 88 points. From Château des Landes’ old vines, this is a concentrated, solid wine. Dark tannins have dark chocolate and licorice flavors, with a structure that dominates the fruit and needs to soften. New wood aging was perhaps excessive, but give the wine time. Drink from 2017.
Château Lanbersac 2011 Puisseguin Saint-Émilion, $25; 86 points. The wine is softening already, bringing out ripe red berry fruits that have taken over from the tannic structure. It makes for a delicious, gently structured wine that will age relatively quickly. Drink from 2016.
Lalande de Pomerol
Château des Annereaux 2010 Lalande de Pomerol, $65; 92 points. Rich while also structured, this is beginning to be delicious. Acidity comes from the black currant fruits while the structure shows dense tannins and wood-aging flavors. The wine is still young and prepared for a long haul, so don’t drink before 2018. Cellar Selection.
Château de Roquebrune 2011 Cuvée Reine (Lalande de Pomerol), $30; 88 points. While the wine certainly has structure, its main character, from the dominant Merlot, is the juicy, stalky fruit and jammy, ripe black plums. It does have an edge of bitter chocolate and a layer of wood. When that softens, it will be a ripe, broad wine. Drink from 2017.
Château Siaurac 2012 Plaisir de Siaurac (Lalande de Pomerol), $23; 86 points. Soft and round, this young wine is all about fruit and a light tannic structure. Fresh berry fruits abound along with acidity and a drier core. It’s not for long aging and will be ready to drink in 2015.
Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux
Château Marsau 2012 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux, $18; 92 points. This special selection, tight-cropped from 30 acres of 100% Merlot, is ripe and rich. This is a smoky and fruity wine, in barrel for 14 months. It has ripe black fruits and rich, dense structure. Spice and toast balance the fruit, giving an impressive sense of generosity. Drink from 2017. Editors’ Choice.
Château Cantinot 2012 Orbite de Cantinot (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux), $50; 91 points. From 7.5 acres of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a rich wine, very perfumed and with layers of ripe fruit. It is lightly structured, full of red berries with a firm tannic character in the background. Under winemaker Olivier Dauga, the wine needs to age but has all the fruit potential there. Drink from 2018.
Château Clairac 2012 Tradition (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux), $15; 91 points. This is fruity and juicy with good acidity and fresh berry fruits. The 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon blend has the right amount of tannic character, showing structure that brings out ripe red fruits and indicates good potential. Drink from 2017. Best Buy.
Côtes de Bourg
Château Guerry 2011 Côtes de Bourg, $25; 88 points. While this is a rich wine, it also has a more fruity character that brings out acidity and a streak of freshness. It’s firm at the moment, reflecting a need for aging. Dense and full of berry fruits, it will be best drunk from 2017.
Château Grand-Maison 2011 Côtes de Bourg, $19; 87 points. The wine is stalky, driven by minerality and a tight texture. Its black currant fruit is riven with acidity, layered with wood and still very young. It does have weight, potential richness and a promising medium-term future. Drink from 2017.
Francs Côtes de Bordeaux
Château Godard Bellevue 2012 Francs Côtes de Bordeaux, $18; 88 points. Structured and balanced, this wine has great fruits that go with the tannins and rich texture. There is an unusually low amount of Merlot (60%) with 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc for the area, yet there is a strongly juicy feel to the wine that gives a generous side. It is developing well; drink from 2016.
Château Lauriol 2012 Francs Côtes de Bordeaux, $NA; 86 points. This exclusively Merlot wine is soft, ripe and generous. It has red berry fruits, some broad tannins and attractive acidity. It’s not for long-term aging, so drink from 2016.
Château Puygueraud 2012 Francs Côtes de Bordeaux, $NA; 86 points. The wine is still austere, with dry toastiness. Black fruits emerge from the structure, showing a severe character although one with potential. It will develop into a powerful wine, solid and firm.
Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux
Château Brethous 2012 Cuvée Prestige (Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux), $35; 91 points. Attractively perfumed, this Verdier family wine comes from Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in their first certified French organic vintage. The wine is a smooth and polished. New wood flavors show strongly, after 16 months in barrel, alongside the ripe tannins and black plum fruits. It has rich potential and a strong presence. Drink from 2017. Editors’ Choice.
Château Chatard 2012 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux, $16; 90 points. Rich and spicy, this 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon from 10 acres generous and ripe, with warm tannins and a fruity, red berry character. This blend has attractive acidity and spicy flavors from the combination of wood and stainless-steel aging. This is only the second vintage from enologist Jean-Rémi Larrat’s own property. It is worth aging, so drink from 2017. Editors’ Choice.
Château Maubert 2012 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux, $25; 90 points. This 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot wine is ripe and spicy. Solid fruit gives a juicy character along with a strong sense of structure. That allows room for plenty of acidity as well as fruit, but also demands aging to allow the mineral texture to soften. Along with owner Monique Bonnet’s Château Suau, this vineyard was certified French organic with the 2012 vintage. Drink from 2018. Editors’ Choice.
Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux
Château Joanin Bécot 2012 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux, $15; 91 points. The wine has serious tannins and firm fruit that give an austere character at this stage. But it will develop and round out into a rich wine with ripe black fruits, always with a solid tannic structure. Owner Juliette Bécot manages the technical side here with consultant Jean-Philippe Fort from the Michel Rolland lab, and manages marketing at classed-growth Château Beauséjour-Bécot in nearby Saint-Émilion. Best Buy.
Château Aiguilhe Querre 2012 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux, $18; 90 points. This juicy Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend is balanced and fresh with great red fruits and soft tannins. Acidity gives a crisp flavor while the fragrant smokiness allows for future development. This comes from a nine-acre, high-density, hand-picked parcel on a limestone plateau among the Querre family vineyards. Drink from 2017. Editors’ Choice.
Côtes de Bordeaux
Château du Vallier 2012 Côtes de Bordeaux, $39; 91 points. While the wine is all tannin and structure at this stage, the weight and rich fruit promise plenty of good aging potential. Wine producers for 10 generations, the Dulon family picks specific plots. This 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet France blend has juicy black fruits that will push forward to give a full wine with a fine presence. Drink from 2017. Editors’ Choice.
Château Nenine 2012 Côtes de Bordeaux, $20; 88 points. Rich and full-bodied, this has ripe berry fruits that are already showing well. Fine tannins give structure without diminishing the natural fruitiness. It’s a generous wine (with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc) that needs a little more time. Drink from 2016.
Château de Potiron 2012 Cuvée Privilége (Côtes de Bordeaux), $15; 87 points. This wine has weight and the potential for ripe black fruits. At this stage, it is closed up, full of suggestions without realization. Wait until 2017 for the rich character to be fully revealed.
Château La Mothe du Barry 2012 Vieilles Vignes (Bordeaux Supérieur), $13; 90 points. The wine has been heavily extracted, giving an initial bitter coffee and a dry tannic character. The fruit weight will compensate for this, bringing out acidity, black plums and rich berries. It has the right concentration to age, so drink from 2017. Best Buy.
Château la Verrière 2012 Bordeaux Supérieur, $14; 90 points. This complex, spicy and fruity wine is big, with attractive acidity. It is piled with berry fruits that give a rich character. The fruits are supported by well-judged wood. This full-bodied wine will develop well; drink from 2017. Best Buy.
Château La Mothe du Barry 2012 Cuvée le Barry (Bordeaux Supérieur), $18; 89 points. From the best parcels in the La Mothe du Barry vineyard, this firm and structured wine shows an obvious wood-aging character. Dominated by Merlot, it is rich and dense, solid tannins balanced against juicy black fruits and fresh acidity. It needs to age; drink after 2016.
Cheval Quancard 2010 1844 Réserve (Bordeaux), $15; 90 points. Celebrating the foundation of Cheval Quancard in 1844, this is a solid, dense and well-made wine from ripe grapes. The balance is good with tannins already integrating well into the juicy, ripe acidity. It’s ready to drink but will age at least until 2019. Best Buy.
Château de Bordes-Quancard 2011 Bordeaux, $12; 88 points. The wine is full and ripe, generous both in its black fruits and its tannins. It’s rich, juicy and packed with berry fruits, a touch of wood and a mineral texture showing at the end. Drink from 2016. Best Buy.
Château La Maroutine 2010 Bordeaux, $12; 88 points. This dark wine shows the beneficial effects of the fine 2010 vintage. Immense blackberry fruits balance the ripe, dry tannins and refreshing acidity. It needs time to develop further; drink from 2016. Best Buy.