It's been years since I tasted through a lineup of inexpensive Bordeauxs, so long in fact that I realized when reading someone else's note about same that I've lost my sense of what young Bordeauxs actually taste like. So, decided to change that. Not tasted blind, but it had been days or weeks since acquisition so we'd completely forgotten prices, so for all intents and purposes they were all $20 bottles and price did not influence our preferences. Compared over five hours:
2009 La Tour de Mons, Margaux, $27
40/40 Cab and Merlot with other stuff. Initially sweet and accessible right out of the bottle without being simplistic. Lovely nose. Traditional. Berries, sassafras root, lavender and spice. Silky tannins. Slowly gained in complexity and attractiveness over the evening. Pretty, as a Margaux should be. Our favorite at the beginning, and at other times during the night by a hair, but it got a LOT of competition from the next wine. Matched up beautifully with rare beef.
2010 Chateau de Marsan, Cadillac/Cotes de Bordeaux, $13 (on sale from $24)
70% merlot/30% cabernet. At first, the nose on this was a little swampy, and the fruit was slow to emerge, but when it did about two hours later? Very impressive. Also traditional. More body and tannins than the Margaux, but not extracted. Sweet dark berry and loamy, with notes that reminded me of walking through a forest. Not as elegant as the Margaux, but it wasn't a rustic, country wine either, and it has heft and presence well above the typical 'Bordeaux Superiors' I remember. Quite fantastic with blue cheese, far better than the Margaux. We finally agreed that the Margaux would probably be the better wine for the event we're doing next week, but for our own tastes we both kind of preferred this. So I was beyond shocked to start writing this note and realize how little I paid for this one (these two bottles came from the same source, the two below from another.) In fact, I had to stop typing, run down the hall and call out to Bob, "Honey, would you believe that Marsan last night only cost thirteen bucks?" Outstanding QPR!!! Edit: six days later we discovered that we had not finished this bottle, a mere two inches was left. I figured it would be history. No! Still a good wine--this one's got legs.
2010 Chateau Semonlon, Haut-Medoc, $16
Big polished bright berry fruit, has the most obvious cabernet component. Modern, not traditional. Tasty enough but blind, I don't think I'd recognize it as Bordeaux.
2010 Le Cadet de Sipian, Medoc, $17
No obvious grape variety, just annnoyingly grapey, even a little jammy, red fruity and modern. Easily our least favorite of the four.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov