Bordeaux: fine wines for drinking

Jamie Goode tastes through nine red Bordeaux wines ‘for drinking’: these are sub-£30 bottles that UK wine merchant Justerini & Brooks think offer particularly good value for money.

‘Bordeaux isn’t all fancy Châteaux and luxury brands!’ says Tom Jenkins, Bordeaux buyer for Justerini & Brooks. ‘There are hard-working vignerons from Bordeaux Supérieur to St Estèphe producing artisanal wines, full of character and charm and – most importantly – with price tags that won’t make your eyes pop out. In fact, if you look hard enough, there’s plenty of value to be found in Bordeaux.

So I set out to taste nine examples that Tom recommended. Here are my notes, together with some of his comments.

La Grande Maye

‘Paul and Cédric Valade’s Grande Maye is always a high quality offering from the hills of Castillon. A few big names have spotted the potential of this commune – most notably, Denis Durantou and Jacques Thienpont. The clay soils at Grande Maye are ideally suited to Merlot, and they coped admirably with the dry, hot conditions in 2015.  Produced from 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon’

Château La Grande Maye 2015 Côtes de Castillon, Bordeaux
15% alcohol. Plush, ripe and generous, this has a slight baked quality to the ripe cherry and blackcurrant fruit. It’s grainy, rich and a little ashy, with a slight mushiness. But there’s great concentration and ripeness, finishing dusty dry. Made in a very rich, ripe style. 88/100 (£13.57 Justerini & Brooks)


‘This 95 hectare estate can be found on the gravelly soils around the village of By, north of St Estèphe. Plantings are dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) and Merlot (38%), with Cabernet Franc (10%) and Petit Verdot (2%). Previous owners have included Georges Héreil and more recently, the Agnelli family (who own Fiat and Ferrari). In 2012 Jean Guyon fell in love with the Château and acquired the property. Since then, much work has been undertaken in the vineyard and the winery, and the investment is beginning to pay dividends. Old vintages of Greysac were always honest, traditional, subtle Medoc wines.  The new era promises to be very exciting for Greysac.’

Château Greysac Médoc 2015 Bordeaux, France
13.5% alcohol. This is from Jean Guyon of Rollan de By. It is 65% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Aromatic, supple and gravelly with nice blackcurrant fruit and some green hints, as well as some ashy, spicy notes. There’s lush black fruit, but also a bit of firmness, with a sweet core of fruit. Very appealing, with density and richness. Drink now or soon. 91/100 (£17.68 Justerini & Brooks)

Grand Village

Château Grand Village Rouge Bordeaux Supérieur 2016 France
15% alcohol. From the Guineaudeau family, this is on the outskirts of Fronsac. 86% Merlot and 14% Cabernet Franc. This is ripe and concentrated, with sleek black fruits and some liqueur-like richness, but also some chalky grainy structure. Great balance here: yes, it’s ripe, with high alcohol, but it holds together beautifully, with good structure. Substantial, but not for long ageing. 92/100 (£19.68 Justerini & Brooks)


‘This excellent estate situated between Calon Ségur and Montrose benefits from the same wine making team as Calon Ségur: Laurent Dufau, Vincent Millet and Eric Boissenot. It has now dropped the Gasqueton from its name and will just be called Capbern. 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot.’

Château Capbern St Estèphe 2014 Bordeaux, France
14.5% alcohol. Supple, concentrated and balanced with fresh blackcurrant fruit and some black cherry notes. Nicely structured with some grainy, grippy characters sitting under the concentrated, sleek fruit. It’s ripe and generous but also has lovely structure and freshness. A sumptuous yet balanced wine. 94/100 (£20.68 Justerini & Brooks)


‘Denis Durantou is famed for his wonderful Pomerol estate, Château L’Eglise Clinet, but he has spread his wings to St Emilion, Lalande de Pomerol and Castillon, and it is perhaps in these communes that he has best demonstrated his Midas touch. Year after year, the likes of La Chenade and Montlandrie have topped our best value poll, and now we are seeing Saintayme and Cruzelles appearing there too. Two thirds of the final blend hails from vines planted by Denis in 2009. We’ve always loved Montlandrie. The clay and limestone terroir near to the windmill has enormous potential and Denis always seems to capture the essence of this plot. It is usually just on the right side of glossy; a polished, modern style, but true to its terroir. The 2015 must be one of the finest examples to date. Produced from 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.’

Château Montlandrie Côtes de Castillon 2015 Bordeaux, France
14.5% alcohol. A powerful, rich wine with a savoury, grainy, dry finish. This is dusty and rich with some polished blackberry and black cherry fruit. There’s some chalky character, but also grippy tannins that seize the finish, leaving a dry feeling in the mouth. Ambitious and quite impressive, but I am slightly wary of the overly dry finish. 90/100 (£22.67)

Lalande Borie

‘We fell for the charming Lalande Borie 2015 en primeur. It was without doubt the most seductive and pleasurable wine we’ve tasted from this plot near to Lagrange.  Produced from 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon.’

Château Lalande Borie St Julien 2015 Bordeaux, France
13.5% alcohol. This is fine and supple with a lovely elegance to the black cherry and blackcurrant fruit. It’s medium-bodied and seamless, with some sweet vanilla and cinnamon hints flirting around the edges of the pure fruit. Such a pleasurable, elegant wine with lots of charm. 93/100 (£23.68 Justerini & Brooks)


Justerini & Brooks Pomerol NV Bordeaux, France
13.5% alcohol. From the 2016 vintage, mainly, sourced from an unnamed estate by Denis Durantou. This is very fine with some nice structure, but also some elegance. Effortless with sleek blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, with appropriate tannin and acid, and lovely freshness. A beautifully balanced wine with some chalky hints under the fruit. This is really impressive: it may be a private label, but it captures the appellation beautifully. 93/100 (£24.67 Justerini & Brooks)

Acte 9

‘Acte is owned by the Guinaudeau family, who farm the legendary Château Lafleur in Pomerol. They also count among their holdings Château Grand Village in the commune of Mouillac. This project, starting with the 2009 vintage, was to explore the potential of Bouchet massale selections from Lafleur on the best limestone sites in Fronsac. There were ten vintages of Acte produced before the project was renamed Perrières de Lafleur with the 2018 vintage.’

‘Acte 9’ 2017 Bordeaux Supérieur, France
14% alcohol. 100% Merlot, because all the Cabernet Franc was lost to frost in 2017. This is clearly, from its packaging, a modern style of Bordeaux. A very fresh style, with sweet berry fruits and a touch of cherry, as well. There’s a gently grainy structure, with focus, precision and a subtle green hint that integrates well. Fresh and fine, and potentially ageworthy, with limestone focus and fine acid line. 93/100 (£29.08 Justerini & Brooks)

Les Tourelles

Les Tourelles De Longueville Pauillac 2014 Bordeaux, France
One of the two second wines of Pichon Baron, this is mainly Merlot from the Saint Anne vineyard. 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. This has a fine, fresh, beautifully aromatic green-fringed nose with chalky blackcurrant fruit. The palate has a supple, fresh, fruity character. It’s mid-weight and has juiciness and drinkability, but also seriousness. There’s freshness, depth and elegance to the cherry and blackcurrant fruit. Drinking so well now, but with some mid-term potential for ageing. 93/100 (£32.68 Justerini & Brooks)