The Wine Curmudgeon is always on the lookout for cheap French wine, and especially red Bordeaux, that tastes like French wine. Sadly, too much inexpensive French wine has been tarted up for American palates -- all fruit, no structure -- or made badly on the assumption that those stupid Americans won't know any better.
Which is why I almost jumped out of my seat at a tasting that included the Causse (about $12, sample). It's produced by the negociant Francois Thienpont, who oversees a company called Terra Burdigala. His wines are uniformly excellent and deliver value, even at the high end, and the Causse is as close to a steal as red Bordeaux gets these days. The Chateau Manoir du Gravoux 2006, a couple of dollars more and harder to find, is also worth a taste.
The Causse is mostly merlot with a dab of cabernet sauvignon. It's a modern wine (a screwcap!) with softer tannins, ripe fruit and stainless steel aging, but it also delivers traditional French style with plummy flavors, a lingering, dark finish, and just 12.5 percent alcohol. It's French wine the way those of us who started drinking it in the 1970s and 1980s remember it -- cheap and simple and satisfying. Drink this with any red meat or even roast chicken.