For a guy who thinks of himself as pretty knowledgeable about wine and many wine regions across the world, I must confess that I still get overwhelmed when trying to find values from Bordeaux. I'm not sure why, but somehow I find the whole classification system and the many subregions within Bordeaux to be pretty confusing. The fact that by law they can hardly put any information on the label doesn't help matters either. Regardless, Bordeaux makes some incredible wines that can have rare combinations of power and finesse. They can bring beautiful fruit without all the weight that so many Cabernets and Merlots from other regions have. The earthy quality can be great, but in full disclosure I will confess that we don't love wines that get overwhelmingly earthy and especially don't like the wet animal smell that some Bordeaux wines exhibit.
The well known, classified growths are somewhat easier to figure out, but they cost a pretty penny. My goal over the next few months is to discover some really good Bordeaux values that can be had for under $20/bottle. This is the first in a series of Bordeaux under $20 reviews that I will be posting at least twice a month for the remainder of 2011.
The Chatuea Croix-Martin Jean-Phillipe Janoueix 2009 Bordeaux Superieur is made from 87% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Franc with 1 % Petit Verdot that is aged in 33% new French oak and the rest 1 year old oak. The wine was decanted for approximately 45 minutes before tasting. In your glass the wine is garnet red in color. The nose brings blackberries and black cherry with a nice, leathery element to it. On the palate the fruit is a little more subdued but absolutely delicious. The fruit you get up front is nicely balanced by the perfect acidity and fine tannins. The finish has some length to it and brings a subtle earthy element. For $15 a bottle this is one heck of a bottle of wine.
From a pairing standpoint, this is not over the top and has a medium body that makes it pretty flexible. It would work perfectly with Coq Au Vin or a nice stew, but would also go well with grilled red meats or an assortment of cheese.