The hunt for bargains in Bordeaux is becoming easier and more than ever to the reds.
“Don’t make me laugh” is a pretty common reaction whenever we bring up the subject of value versus Bordeaux and that’s understandable too.
Bordeaux is, of course, one of the most expensive wine regions in the world, whose reputation for good wine is matched only by its ability to charge full price. It sits alongside Burgundy and Napa as the regions where your wallet is most likely to be violently assaulted, with little hope of relief. Bordeaux, however, offers a glimmer of hope.
Take Burgundy, for example, home of the Côte d’Or, where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay reach their apotheosis – on our list of the region’s cheapest wines, there’s nothing Côte d’Or ; it’s all Chablis, Macon and Côte Chalonnaise. Likewise Napa, a region famous for its blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux. There, the best “bargain” Cabernet starts at $ 70 a bottle as the global average price, while our value search algorithm suggests the best Bordeaux blend starts at an average of $ 290.
In Bordeaux, the reality is different. There is good Bordeaux at all price points, but overall prices tend to be pulled, statistically, by the big names – the classified growths and the Petrus of this world. There is a pretty big compromise in Bordeaux between quality, price, supply and demand.
There is a lot of value, however, as our list below shows. There has also been a significant change over the past year since we last reviewed Bordeaux’s best value for money. A year ago, eight of those 10 wines would have been white and mellow, which isn’t really the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Bordeaux; in fact, the situation was the same in 2019 as well. This year, however, there are four reds on the list, and they’re not all more obscure appellations either – there’s a Margaux, and even a Pomerol.
At Wine-Searcher, the algorithm that ranks our wines as the best value for money can be confusing and may not always match what people perceive as “value”. For this best-value series of stories, we work with a more direct point / dollar ratio for a simplified “bang for buck” scale than our standard algorithm. Simply dividing the aggregate critical score by the price gives a value factor and the higher the factor, the better the value – a sort of points per dollar scale. The higher the value factor, the more points per dollar. All wines have a minimum critical score of 91.
Usually when we manage our lists of superlatives we don’t take vintage into account, but since vintage variation affects the score so much, we focus on individual vintages of wines for our best value lists.
Best value for money Bordeaux on Wine-Searcher:
The main takeaway from this list is twofold: Sauternes remains fertile ground for good-value wines, and 2019 reds offer value right now.
This second-place Pomerol is also worth mentioning. It’s a pattern of consistency: only one vintage in the last six has achieved an aggregate critical score below 92, and the 2015 ranks particularly well, with a score of 92 and an average worldwide retail price of just $ 37. . It’s also the average price for best wine (which also deserves an honorable mention), but it has a cumulative score of 93 points.
But what people really mean when they talk about Bordeaux is usually red wine – like when people talk about Burgundy, they don’t often think of Chablis. So let’s see what the 10 best reds in Bordeaux would look like. The above four are followed by a few big names as we round out the top 10 reds.
Red Bordeaux at the best value for money on Wine-Searcher:
This is where the big names come in. Suddenly, we see large towns on the left bank and classified growths appear on the scene and we also see a little more variation in the vintages, even if the promise of 2019 is still blindingly obvious.
Of course, the value factors decrease quite quickly, but the quality level increases to compensate; Grand-Puy-Lacoste represents a fairly attractive proposition, with an aggregate critical score of 95 and an average retail price of $ 70, for example. In fact, 95 is the lowest score among these six wines, with Calon Ségur reaching 96. At the top, Pontet-Canet has 97, which is interesting in itself. It has a global average retail price of $ 129 a bottle, while the estate’s other two recent 97-point vintages are noticeably more expensive: the 2018 has an average price of $ 160, while the 2016 will cost you an average of 189. $.
While these prices aren’t drastic changes, they’re also not beyond the reach of most wine lovers. It just shows that if the value is a relative term to Bordeaux, it is there if you look closely enough. Good hunt.