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5 affordable 2005 Bordeaux wines

The 2005 vintage of Bordeaux set record prices for name-brand bottles from Pétrus, Margaux, and Haut-Brion, but excellent alternatives abound. Epicurious presents five affordable reds from "the vintage of the century."
/ Source: Epicurious

The 2005 vintage of Bordeaux set record prices for name-brand bottles from Pétrus, Margaux, and Haut-Brion, but excellent alternatives abound. Note: All Bordeaux wines are varying blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

Château Landat 2005

Landat is an unpedigreed — but always available, affordable, and reliable — standby from the middle of the Médoc, the primary wine region on the Left Bank. The Médoc has dozens of these "petite châteaux," good-value properties from out-of-the-limelight communes such as Moulis, St.-Laurent, Listrac, and, in this case, Cissac, wedged between Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe. This blend leans heavily on Cabernet and displays hints of dark fruit, edges of fresh herbs, and a touch of licorice in the finish. (About $18)

Christian Moueix St. Emilion 2005

This is a regional wine from a négociant — a winemaker who gets his grapes from smaller growers (a middleman, some would say) — but what a négociant! The Moueix family owns the fabled Château Pétrus, among other properties, so it's not surprising that this wine has good cherry fruit, touches of chocolate, and light tannins, and a finish of pencil lead (a noble characteristic) of Cabernet Franc, which makes up 15 percent of this Merlot-dominated blend. (About $23)

Château Ormes de Pez 2005

For years, the Cazes family gave us the delightful Lynch-Bages — a wine from the Pauillac appellation of Bordeaux, priced much less than Bordeaux of equal quality. They also own Ormes de Pez, which is being groomed as a successor to Lynch-Bages (nicknamed "Lunch Bag"). This is a food wine, with big, bold flavors of ripe cherries, a nip of cream, lean tannins, and good acidity. (About $33)

Château de Fieuzal 2005

A grand cru classé from Graves, de Fieuzal has gradually improved in quality over the past two decades. Some of the best bargains for top-quality Left Bank wines (known for a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in their blends, as opposed to Right Bank wines and their heavy Merlot concentration) come from the Pessac-Léognan region of Graves, and de Fieuzal helps lead that parade. This is a big wine with a nose full of aromas (raw meat and cured olives) and a mouth full of dark fruit, bacon fat, and big tannins, yet at its core are flavors of velvety dark chocolate and hints of violets. (About $35)

Château Corbin 2005

Annabelle Cruse-Bardinet, an up-and-coming winemaker in the Saint-émilion region, has been restructuring this top-notch property by rebuilding the cellar and increasing the amount of new oak in the aging process. The vineyard itself is located just down the road from the legendary Cheval Blanc. Combine these factors, and you get a terrific wine with flavors of cassis, spicy berries, and dried herbs, and a lean finish of mineral chalkiness with a touch of cedar. As with most Bordeaux, decanting for an hour will improve the taste of this young wine if you plan to drink it soon. You should also be able to age the bottle for a decade or two. (About $43)

Roger Morris writes about wine, food, and travel for a variety of publications including Robb Report, Beverage Media, Saveur, and The Wine Enthusiast.