Elin’s Wine Pick: Go Beyond Bordeaux Stereotypes

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in: Drinking

Elin McCoy's Wine Pick: Château Saintongey Vieilles Vignes Bordeaux

It’s oh-so-fashionable now to bash Bordeaux wines as slick, unaffordable and made only for investors. But they’re not. This attractive, fruit-scented 2010 Château Saintongey Vieilles Vignes, with lovely taste notes of cherries and herbs, has just enough structure and tannin to make it excellent with roast lamb on a cold night and costs only $15.

A worthy, everyday Bordeaux at the right price

No, this wine isn’t one of the region’s fancy crus classés that require a decade or more of cellar aging to be at their best. Château Saintongey is a simple Bordeaux rouge for everyday drinking from the vast area south of the city of Bordeaux called Entre Deux Mers.

Elin McCoy’s Wine of the Week


2010 Château Saintongey Vieilles Vignes 

Price: $15

Region: Bordeaux, France

Grapes: 55% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc

Alcohol: 13.5%

Serve with: Roast leg of lamb or roast duck

The 37 acres of vines and the chateau were acquired and totally renovated 20 years ago by Charles Yung et Fils, which owns seven estates in Bordeaux.

Chateau Saintongey is part of the company’s mid-range and vintages of this wine have won plenty of medals in France, the U.K. and the U.S.  It’s the kind of attractive inexpensive Bordeaux red that the French enjoyed with Sunday dinner a couple of decades ago and that turned up on wine lists at French bistros in the U.S.

The “vieilles vignes” (old vines) are 25 years old. The terroir is clay and chalk. The owner keeps production costs down by using mechanical harvesting and ages the wine in barrels for only six months.

When critics and sommeliers dismiss the world’s biggest and most famous fine wine region as boring or passé, I wonder how many of the region’s wines they’ve actually tasted. In my opinion, there’s no reason to disregard Cabernet blends just because we’ve all discovered how good wines made from trousseau are.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a California Cabernet or Merlot or an Argentine Malbec that’s as balanced and pleasurable to drink for the same price as this Château Saintongey.

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