Château La Gravière Blanc, a French white blend, is the blog’s second annual Cheap Wine of the Year
It wasn’t easy, in the past year of drinking dangerously, to find a cheap wine to uphold the standards we’ve worked so hard to maintain over the past 11 years. Yes, there were plenty of $10 roses that were worthy, but cheap wine should be about more than rose. Fortunately, we have the Château La Gravière Blanc as the blog’s second annual Cheap Wine of the Year.
The Château La Gravière Blanc ($10, purchased, 12.5%) is a white French blend from the Bordeaux sub-region of Entre-Deux-Mers, which is mostly known for making truckloads of cheap wine that tastes like cheap wine. That’s the last thing the La Graviere is.
It combines traditional white Bordeaux style and terroir with modern winemaking; hence a delicious wine that is not simple or stupid. The wine features fresh lemon fruit as well as an almost California-style grassiness, but it also comes close to an old-fashioned white Bordeaux minerality. This used to be common in these kinds of wines, but it as rare these days as a Big Wine dry red that is actually dry. The difference may be more semillion in the blend than sauvignon blanc, so the wine isn’t another New Zealand knockoff.
Drink this chilled, either on its own or with chef-style salads, roast chicken, or grilled shrimp. This is the kind of wine you buy one bottle of and then go back for a case. Which is I did.
• Sacha Lichine Single Blend Rose 2017 ($10, purchased, %): Quality $10 pink from the Languedoc, so it’s not quite as subtle as something from Provence. But the wine uses first-class grenache, so it’s not too jellyish. Hence a crisp, fresh, and enjoyable wine. Look for strawberry fruit and a stony kind of finish. Imported by Shaw-Ross International
• Château La Gravière Blanc 2017 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): This white French Bordeaux is almost certainly the best cheap wine I tasted in 2018. It did everything cheap wine should do — offer value, be varietally correct, and taste delicious. Some lemon fruit with an almost grassiness, and old-fashioned white Bordeaux minerality. The difference may be more semillion in the blend than sauvignon blanc, so the wine isn’t a New Zealand knockoff. Highly recommended. Imported by Luneau USA
• Rotari Trento Brut 2013 ($18, sample, 12.5%): Impeccably made Prosecco. the Italian sparkling wine. Look for berry fruit, plus more body and depth than in cheaper Proseccos, as well as deliciously tight bubbles. If there’s a catch, it’s the price. Imported by Prestige Wine Imports
Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month.
• French Bar Petite Sirah 2015 ($19, sample, 13.9%): This California red tastes of stewed plums and is big and rich — about what you would expect from a $19 petite sirah where the heavy bottle and fancy foil seal probably cost more than the wine.
• Domaine du Seuil 2016 ($18, purchased, 12%): Nicely done white Bordeaux with not too tart lemon fruit; clean, minerally, and enjoyable. However, there’s nothing especially exciting about it, and especially at this price. Imported by Scott Levy Selections
• Chateau Pajzos Furmint 2016 ($12, purchased, 12%): Would that a Hungarian white like this, made with the less known furmint grape, would be the next big thing. Look for a little spice, some stone fruit, and a touch of sweetness. But it’s also fresh and lively. Highly recommended, but may be difficult to find. Imported by Wines with Conviction
• Bertani Bertarose Rose 2017 ($15, sample, 12%): Pleasant, if overpriced, Italian rose that is fresh and clean, with a bit of tart berry fruit. Find this at $10 or $12 and you’ve got a fine value. Imported by Palm Bay International
Find the Chateau Godichaud for $12, and congratulate yourself on wine shopping well done
The recent post about inflated Bordeaux wine prices is the ideal introduction to Chateau Goudichaud. This is a white blend from the Bordeaux region of France that should cost $10 or $12 but can be twice as expensive in the U.S. Its European grocery store price? About $10.
I was lucky; there was a 20 percent off sale when I bought the Chateau Godichaud ($12, purchased, 12.5%) this summer. As my notes say: “It is what it always is — $9 or $10 worth of white Bordeaux that costs as much as $20 in the U.S. because it’s from Bordeaux.
This is not damning with faint praise; rather, it’s pointing out how difficult it is to find value these days. The Chateau Godichaud is a terrific wine at $10 or $12, and I’d pay $15 for it in a pinch. But $20? It’s time for beer.
Look for a little stoniness, not too much citrus, and a fresh and clean approach despite the older vintage. In this, the semillon in the blend balances the sauvignon blanc and doesn’t turn the wine soft or flabby. There’s a pleasant richness in the mouth I didn’t expect. All in all, it’s the kind of simple, enjoyable, and straightforward weeknight wine that you can chill and drink with takeout roast chicken – the kind of wine we used to be able to buy all the time. Now, we need to hope it’s on sale.
No matter what its name, the Verdillac Blanc is classic white Bordeaux — and for just $9
What’s in a name? Is this wine called Armand Roux Verdillac Blanc? Or just Verdillac Blanc? If so, is it a different wine and producer than the ones listed in the cyber-ether for previous vintages where it’s called Armand Roux? Or what about the 2015 called Armand Roux?
Let’s call it Verdillac Blanc ($9, purchased, 12%), since that’s what the importer calls it. And let’s hope that the confusion about the name doesn’t translate into availability problems. Because this French wine, made with sauvignon blanc, is about as classic a white wine from Bordeaux as you’ll taste any more at this price.
That means clean and fresh, from front to finish – no bitterness, no excess acidity, no lingering sweetness passed off as “fruitiness.” It’s a little stony, with the requisite lemon fruit and quite enjoyable – much more enjoyable than I expected.
Drink this chilled on its own, and especially as the days get warmer. It’s a terrific picnic and back porch wine, and will pair with salads, roasted vegetables drizzled in olive oil, and chicken on the grill.
The Chateau Godichaud is cheap, well made white Bordeaux
Sometimes, wine surprises you. You taste something, and you look at the label, you taste it again, and you go, “I don’t remember this tasting this way.” And that it can be surprising is one of the good things about wine, and the Chateau Godichaud fits that mold.
Even though the Chateau Godichaud ($10, purchased, 12.5%) has appeared on the blog before, I’m never quite sure what to make of it. Sometimes, it’s a traditional white Bordeaux blend, with minerality and the body that comes from adding semillon to the sauvignon blanc. And sometimes, like this vintage, it’s almost New Zealand citrusy.
Regardless, it’s almost always well made, and this vintage is no exception (though I would prefer a little more Bordeaux style). Look for lots of grapefruit and associated citrus flavors, and though the finish isn’t short or bitter, there isn’t as much minerality as I expect in a white Bordeaux.
But it’s certainly $10 worth of wine, and especially when even New Zealand sauvignon blancs are having a difficult time hitting the value point. Serve this chilled for porch sipping or any summer outdoor cookout with chicken or seafood.
The Francois Thienpont Blanc is $10 white Bordeaux that offers quality and value
The Wine Curmudgeon always admits when he is wrong, and boy, was I wrong about European wine prices. I was convinced, being the grouch that I am, that there was no way retailers, distributors, and importers would pass along the savings from the euro’s collapse over the past year. But they did, and the Francois Thienpont Blanc is a prime example.
The Francois Thienpont Blanc ($10, purchased, 12%) is a white Bordeaux made only with sauvignon blanc, so it’s a little more simple and not quite as polished as a sauvignon blanc blend like the Chateau Bonnet. But that’s no reason not to buy it – in fact, the wine is almost $10 Hall of Fame quality.
Look for lime as as opposed to lemon fruit, a crisp finish, and some of the minerality that is common with white wines from France’s Bordeaux region. Drink this chilled on its own, or with any roast chicken or grilled shrimp dish. And be very glad that the WC is not perfect.