Bordeaux earns its fame as the home to the world’s most famous and exalted wines, like the First Growths. But Bordeaux is more than just high end wine.
Something else Bordeaux does better than any other wine region is produce millions of cases of value priced wines that are affordable, easy to find and they are delicious on release.
2017 was a challenging vintage for Bordeaux value wines and petit chateau. The less-celebrated appellations of the Right Bank, including Lalande de Pomerol, Fronsac and the St. Emilion satellites, took quite a battering in the frost. Several estates were not able to produce any wine!
Other vineyards which enjoyed better luck lost between 50% to 90% of their harvest! You need to keep in in mind that these estates are the vineyards need the harvest the most. For many of these chateaux, the loss is devastating, as this is their sole source of income.
Even the vineyards on the Cotes de Castillon plateau lost over half of their potential harvest. Others in the Cotes de Bordeaux wish they only lost half. It was not easier for Bordeaux Superieur, Entre Deux Mers and numerous other appellations.
If the loss from the frost was not bad enough, the properties also had to deal with the drought and a rainy harvest. At the end of the day, 2017 is the smallest harvest in ages. Less wine will be produced than even in problematic years like 2013.
For a detailed look at the weather and harvest that shaped the 2017 Bordeaux growing season 2017 Bordeaux Vintage and Harvest Report
At the large vineyards in both the Right Bank and in the Left Bank, it is easy for them to cut prices in the difficult vintages. The situation is more problematic with petit chateau in the satellite appellations, because they are only able to price their wines at a certain level. They do not move much in either direction, because that is what the market bears.
At their best, the 2017 Bordeaux value wines are going to offer, medium bodied, juicy, fresh pleasure on release. Vineyards without the better terroir suited for difficult years had a harder time. There you find more wines with dilution from the September, harvest rains.
With some wines, you also find less selection than usual to make up for the frost damage, which can lead to greeness or drying tannins. When buying 2017 Bordeaux value wines, you need to be selective.
The following 2017 Bordeaux value wines and petit chateau were tasted between March 22 and April 12 in Bordeaux in non blind conditions.
2017 Alcee – Produced from 100% Merlot, the wine is sweet, juicy and already open. If you like the idea of licorice and ripe cherries with silky tannins and lift — then you came to the right place. Drink this on release for sure. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 Auguste – Perfect for uncomplicated, easy drinking, offering forward, soft-textured pleasure. Drink this on the young side with a slight chill. 83 – 85 Pts
2017 Belle Coline – Forward, medium bodied, soft and round in texture, the fruit is sweet with a bright, delicate, ripe, red berry character — perfect for early drinking consumption. 87 – 89 Pts
2017 Balthus – Deeply colored, polished textures, licorice, espresso and toasty oak work well, leading you to the black raspberries and cocoa in a round finish. Give it a few years before popping a cork. 88 – 90 Pts
2017 Bourdieu Absolu – Another new discovery for me on this trip! The wine is dark, lush, round and juicy. There is good concentration, ripe berries and a spicy, intense finish. The large percentage of Malbec in the blend works quite well here. The wine sets a new level for quality and price for wines from the Cotes de Blaye appellation. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Bouscat Caduce – Dark in color, juicy, black fruit and licorice are on the nose and palate. The wine is round and fleshy, forward and will drink great on release. 88 – 90 Pts
2017 Bouscat Cuvee La Gargone – A real success for the vintage, the wine, produced from a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Malbec, 18% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon kicks off with espresso and chocolate coated ripe, sweet dark red berries on the nose. On the palate, the wine is forward, serving up its fresh, sweet, dark red fruits with ease. It’s difficult to find better Bordeaux value wines for under $20! This is a Jeffrey Davies Selection Exclusive. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Bouscat Les Portes de L’Am – From blending 50% Merlot, 25% Malbec and 25% Cabernet Franc, you get a wine that is deep in color, forward, soft and easy to drink. The wine is ripe and juicy, showing a touch of oak on top of all the ripe, sweet, fleshy fruits. This wine is a Jeffrey Davies Signature Selection Exclusive. 91 – 93 Pts
2017 Cap de Faugeres – Luxurious and sexy, the wine is loaded with licorice, juicy plums and dark chocolate with an expressive, round finish. This should be quite tasty on release. The wine was made from a blend of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon – despite the estate losing 40% of the yield to frost. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 Cap St. George – This is a medium bodied, round, easy drinking, soft textured, fruity charmer, which is already delicious in your glass. You can drink this on release or age it for a year or two. 86 – 88 Pts
2017 Carignan Prima – Soft, round and plummy with an easy drinking, red cherry and plum personality, you’ll want to drink this in its first decade of life. 85 – 87 Pts
2017 Clarisse Vieille Vignes – Soft, luscious, chocolately red fruits, licorice and coffee bean notes are delivered in a soft, round, textured format. The wine, produced from 100% old vine Merlot, leaves you with a side dish of chocolate on top of the ripe, juicy plums. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 Clarendelle – A medium-bodied, bright, fresh and soft-textured wine, replete with a dark cherry profile that will be best during its fruit-oriented formative years. 86 – 88 Pts
2017 Clos de Bouard – Gracefully forward, subdued yet seductive, prepare for gradations of chocolate-covered plums, mint and licorice from start to finish. The wine blossom on your palate, finishing with a warm blast of cocoa and plum. Due the frost only 20% of the typical volume was produced. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Dame de Bouard – On the bright side of the Merlot range, the perfectly juicy red plums offer a hint of citrus and chocolate-mint to get things going. Medium bodied and subtle with handmade chocolate-covered cherries on the palate, this second wine of Clos de Bouard was produced from 100% Merlot and will be great in its near-term youth. 86 – 88 Pts
2017 Clos Lunelles – Dark plums, flowers and boysenberry are the opening before moving on to the luscious, sweet, ripe, juicy, plummy fruit. This is surprisingly rich for the vintage. The wine was made from blending 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. 91 – 93 Pts
2017 Clos Puy Arnaud – Bright red fruits, licorice and spice lead things off. Medium bodied and vinified for early drinking, the finish is bright and crisp. 85 – 87 Pts
2017 Croix de Perenne – A simple, easy drinking, forward, medium bodied, Merlot-based wine. The texture is soft and the finish is fruity, showing sweet ripe cherries, cocoa and licorice on the back end. 87 – 86 Pts
2017 Croix Mouton – Made for simple pleasure, this wine is harmonious and soft — perfect for straightforward, early drinking. Produced from 97% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc, this is the 20th vintage for the estate, commemorated with a special label for the 2017 bottling. 84 – 86 Pts
2017 dAiguilhe – The nose is ripe with licorice, black cherry and plums. There is an honest sweetness to the fruit. The textures are round, the tannins are soft and the finish is fruity with a touch of licorice on the back end. The wine was made from a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. The harvest took place September 21 to October 7. The frost devastated 60% of the vineyard. 91 – 93 Pts
2017 Dalem – With a kiss of oak on the front end, the wine is deeply colored, round, fleshy, sweet, ripe, polished and fresh, leaving with plums, fennel and cocoa in the round finish. The wine is made from a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Domaine-de-lA – Showing a respectable color, the nose kicks off with coffee bean, flowers, vanilla and sweet red fruits. Medium bodied with soft tannins and the ideal black raspberry finish, you can drink this young or age it for up to a decade. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Esprit-de-Pavie – Medium-bodied with early drinking appeal, round, soft textures and sweet, ripe red berries. If you enjoy earthy, fruity pleasures drink this on release but expect little, if any, length or depth. 86 – 88 Pts
2017 de Francs Infinity – With a strong mineral character, the wine offers red fruits with salty stone. The tannins are ripe and the red berries are fresh and sweet. You can drink this young. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 de Francs Les Cerisiers – Forward and soft, the wine offers ripe, black cherry, licorice and coffee bean with a touch of mineral essence for a unique profile. 87 – 86 Pts
2017 La Dauphine – With deep color, this fruity wine is on the dark berry side with plenty of fresh, juicy blackberries and plums adding to the fun. Lushly textured, sweet and fleshy, the wine has a ripe, plump personality. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 La Riviere – The wine easily shows its oaky side along with its chocolate and plummy character. Medium bodied, round, lush and juicy, this will clearly offer pleasure on release. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 Fontenil – With suitable color, the nose kicks in with flowers, black cherry, licorice and smoke. On the palate, you’ll find Rubenesque, lusciously textured, sweet black cherries, plums and soft, chubby textures with the perfect amount of bitter chocolate to round things off in the end. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Gaby – Bold, rotund and a bit oaky on the nose and palate, this wine could use a year or two in the cellar to refine its sweet, soft, ripe, fruity sensation. 86 – 88 Pts
2017 Gaby Cuvee – Made from a selection of the estate’s best parcels, this wine is medium bodied, polished and plump with licorice, cacao and espresso notes. There is an enjoyable sweetness to the fruit this year. 88 – 90 Pts
2017 Gigault Cuvee Viva – Lighter styled, leaning toward the bright, crisp cherry side, this wine is medium bodied and soft with thyme and tobacco nuances to spice things up. You can drink this on release. 87 – 89 Pts
2017 Girolate – Dark in color with black cherry, flowers and chocolate, the wine is medium bodied, soft and forward with a polished finish. 87 – 89 Pts
2017 Grand Village – Dark cherries, licorice and cocoa will have you convinced this wine is a Pomerol. On the palate, this medium-bodied charmer is silky, sweet and round. It was produced from a blend of 97% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc, setting a record for the highest amount of Merlot ever placed in the blend. The elevated proportion of Merlot on the limestone and the added sensation of minerality mixed with lush fruits makes this an instant enchantress. I marvel at this production because half of the vineyard was destroyed by frost, generating only 9% of the 2016 release. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Guinaudeau “G” Acte 9 – The first vintage made from 100% Merlot presents leaf, tobacco, and red fruits. Forward, round and supple, you may drink this sweet cherry and licorice-filled wine upon release. Due to the frost, the production is under 250 cases this year – a typical vintage is 1,500! The ninth vintage of this wine, “G” Acte 9, takes its name from Guinaudeau as in Jacques and Sylvie, the renowned owners. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Jean Faux Les Sources – Peak cherries, licorice and a hint of spice define the wine. This is soft, polished, approachable and already quite satisfying to drink. The wine is made from a selection of the estate’s best parcels located on the plateau. 87 – 89 Pts
2017 Jean Faux Sainte-Radegonde – Ripe red fruits with a hint of licorice on the front end, round and already user-friendly, the finish is all about the sweet, mid-summer cherries. You can drink this on release. 85 – 87 Pts
2017 Joanin Becot – Cushy, curvy and animated, this wine is already offering licorice infused, supple-textured plushness with black cherry and cocoa character. The finish has some lift, leading me to believe it will be better with a year or two in the cellar — though you can certainly drink this young for instant gratification. The wine was made from a blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 La Prade – Fresh with polished tannins and a sweet, fruity quality in the round finish, this wine will be delicious for at least a decade or longer. If you are seeking value Bordeaux and you’re not familiar with La Prade — get to know this wine, which is made from 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Sadly, due to the frost, there is 50% less of the normal harvest here this year. 88 – 90 Pts
2017 La Rousselle – Fennel, spice, black licorice and plums are delivered with soft, round textures. The wine is medium bodied, forward, open and due to its early drinking charm, you can pop on cork on release. 88 – 90 Pts
2017 La Vieille Cure – Dark, chocolate-covered fruits, licorice and toasty oak, along with soft, round, corpulent textures are the main features of this wine. This will a pleasure to drink on release. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 lAurage – Vanilla, wild strawberry, earth and thyme reverberate here while the endnote displays soft texture, ripe black raspberries and licorice. You will be able to enjoy this on release. Due to the frost, yields were only ten hectoliters per hectare. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 Le Petit Verdot Belle-Vue – Dark in color, the wine is fresh, spicy and crisp with a lean to darker fruits. This is a rarity in Bordeaux as it is one of the few wines made from 100% Petit Verdot. 88 – 90 Pts
2017 Le Pin Beausoleil – Medium bodied, sweet, ripe and spicy, the tannins are soft, bringing you to a fruit-filled climax that is tantalizing. All this and it sells for less than $20! 87 – 89 Pts
2017 Le Rey Argileuses – This medium-bodied wine is slightly spicy, soft-textured, round, ripe and filled with licorice and sweet cherry. It will drink fine upon release. 88 – 90 Pts
2017 Le Rey Rocheuses – Yet another early drinking charmer! Supple textured, juicy, soft, sweet and fresh, the berries are ripe, the wine is fruity and there is freshness. Already delicious, you can drink this on release. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 Les Trois Croix – Medium/full bodied, forward and loaded with ripe, soft, round, fresh and slightly stony red fruits, this is already lovely to taste. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 Marsau – Flowers and sweet cassis with licorice and cocoa get this off to a going a good start. Fresh, forward, with salty tannins and round textures with bright red fruits in the finish. The estate lost 70% of their crop due to the frost. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 Mauvais Garçon (Bad Boy) – Round and plummy with overtones of black licorice, the wine was vinified for early drinking, offering pleasure on release and for the next few years. 85 – 87 Pts
2017 Montlandrie – A deep shimmery ruby, the wine has sweetness and flesh. The red fruits are highlighted with licorice and cocoa. If you like ‘em young, Rubenesque with primary fruits and a little sugar on top, you may drink this upon release. The wine is a blend of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Moulin-Haut-Laroque – Smoke, espresso, licorice and cherry notes on the nose move right through to the fresh, soft, round, sweet and fruity finish. You can enjoy this young, but a few years will allow the oak to better integrate with the wine. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Moulin-Pey-Labrie – Medium bodied, fresh, bright and forward, drink this soft, red berry-oriented wine early in life for its fruit and freshness. 86 – 88 Pts
2017 Moya – Light in color, the wine is soft, medium bodied and already quite easy to drink with its forward, red berry character. This will be best on the young side. 87 – 89 Pts
2017 Pey-La-Tour Reserve du Chateau – Round, forward and fleshy with sweet fruits, soft tannins and a chocolate-covered plum finish. You can enjoy this on release. 86 – 88 Pts
2017 Puygueraud – Quite forward in style, the wine is soft, fresh, sweet ripe and already charming. In the finish, it is easy to sense the minerality found in the vineyards. Produced from a blend of 63% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 7% Malbec. Due to the frost, 70% of the harvest was struck by the frost. 88 – 90 Pts
2017 Reignac – Medium bodied with freshness and a core of sweet red fruits, you’ll also find licorice, strawberry and coffee bean notes. This round, easy to drink wine will be best in its youth. 87 – 89 Pts
2017 Roc de Cambes – Wet soil, tobacco, truffle and black raspberries are found on the nose and on the palate. The wine is juicy, bright and fruity with herbal complexities in an earthy finish. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 Domaine de Cambes – Wet earth, forest floor, truffle, tobacco and dark red fruits are served up in a ripe, juicy, fresh, medium/full bodied, rustic style. 86 – 88 Pts
2017 Thenac Cotes de Bergerac – Medium bodied, bright, crisp red fruits with an edge of dark chocolate, herbs and underbrush, this is the debut vintage for Hubert de Bouard as the consultant for Thenac. 84 – 86 Pts
2017 Thieuley – A light, fruity, red berry-filled charmer perfect for uncomplicated, early drinking. 86 – 88 Pts
2017 Vieux-Chateau-Palon – A notable depth of color, you’ll find mineral-driven, black raspberries, thyme, soft textures and sweet, salty red fruits in the finish. Medium bodied, juicy and chalky, a few years in the cellar will provide the necessary evolution. 87 – 89 Pts
2017 Villars – Black cherry, plum and citrus fruits create this medium-bodied, forward wine. There is fruit here but you’ll also find a lot of oak in the finish. 86 – 88 Pts
2017 Vrai Canon Bouche – Dark in color, you’ll instantly find floral notes to accompany the basket of red fruits and thyme. The wine is juicy, soft and fruity with spicy licorice accents in the finish. 89 – 91 Pts
We’re just about ready to wrap up our voluminous and hopefully for you, complete coverage of the 2017 Bordeaux vintage. Tomorrow, we will release our dry white Bordeaux wine report, which has tasting notes for some really great wines.
This will be followed by our tasting notes for the sweet wines from Sauternes and Barsac. 2017 Sauternes are going to be a turn on, for fans of those wines.