Is htere really such a thing as Bordeaux that comes in at a good quality/price ratio? There's certainly a lot of knee-jerk reactions on the internet that would suggest it's no longer possible. Maybe that's true with such overhyped and overheated vintages as 2005, but it doesn't really take much looking to find wines that bypass the hype machine and still deliver value.
Less appreciated vintages are one way to go. The market for Bordeaux is hopelessly bi-polar, at least in the USA. Top vintages are prized like diamonds, while good to very good vintages are cast aside like yesterday's newspaper. Certainly vintages like 2006 and 2007, released at inflated prices and further inflated by the 1.60 dollar/euro rates of last summer are a tough slog for value seekers, but what about earlier vintages. There's still a lot of 2001, 2002 and 2004 on the shelves, frequently at attractive prices. In many wine regions the value picks tend to fade after a few years, so searching the back catalog is perhaps not a wise move, but in Bordeaux there's a better chance for finding enjoyable wines from forgotten years.
Purchased for $19.99, the 2002 Fontenil (Fronsac) is quite an attractive wine. Nearly seven years removed from the vintage it has not really developed any complexity, but it's still quite fruity, but with an austere edge that marks it as Bordeaux. The balance is good, and it pairs well with food, so what more could one really ask a wine to do on a Tuesday night (I opened this a day early to have a topic for April 1). Managing to keep the price tag around $20 is certainly unusual for a wine bearing the hand of Michel Rolland, but then this does not taste like some of his more vaunted ventures. In fact it completely belies that myth that Rolland turns everything he touches into overripe goop. No goop here, just good, and good value.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.