Wine Folly Logo
Tips & Tricks

Explore Bordeaux with 11 Wines Under $20

- Updated

Bordeaux is famous for one thing: expensive red wine, but this is a very small picture of the true output of the region. While prices for luxury wines like Château Latour and Petrus continue to soar, most of Bordeaux can be enjoyed for under $20.

New Guide: Dive deeper into Bordeaux’s Wines and Region with Wine Folly’s new Bordeaux Region Guide.

bordeaux-wine-under-20

Explore Bordeaux Under $20

Let’s take a look at these other wines of Bordeaux. You will discover that Bordeaux has an approachable side that’s designed to be drunk. Onward!

The “Approachable” Styles of Bordeaux

There are 5 styles of wine coming out of Bordeaux that are quite affordable. And delicious too!

  1. Zesty white wines perfect for afternoon drinking
  2. Fruity and unctuous rosé wines perfect for evening drinking
  3. Medium-bodied earthy red wines perfect for food pairing
  4. Honeyed and floral sweet white wines perfect for asian cuisine or fine cheeses
  5. Peachy and floral sparkling wines both white and rosé are perfect for celebrating

White Bordeaux

Look for Entre-Deux-Mers and Graves

‘White Bordeaux’ includes a blend of several grapes including Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. When looking for quality, seek out wines that have been barrel fermented or aged, often the winemakers will age ‘on the lees’ which adds a thicker silky-creamy texture to an otherwise simple high-acidity wine.

TASTE: White wines around and under $20 from Bordeaux typically have high acidity with refreshing citrus, grapefruit and an occasional hint of tropical fruit. Generally, these wines are meant to be enjoyed young within a couple of years. Try White Bordeaux with ceviche, sushi or any other delicately flavored sea fare.

  • Grand Bateau Bordeaux Blanc $11
  • Lune d’Argent, Clos des Lunes Bordeaux Blanc $20
  • Château Peybonhomme les Tours “Le Blanc Bonhomme” $15

Rosé Bordeaux

Many top producers make outstanding rich rosé

It has been a practice for years in Bordeaux to bleed off a little of the grape juice while making red wine. This technique is called ‘Saignée Method’ (bled method) and makes red wines more concentrated. So, what happens to the leftover juice? Well, there are several rosé wines!

TASTE: Saignée rosé tends to be richer in style with bolder fruit flavors of cherry, iris, raspberry and watermelon as well as an unctuous oily texture on the palate. A few of the rosé wines can last several years, but generally you’ll want to select a youthful Rosé Bordeaux that has maximum mouth-watering acidity. Try pairing this style with Mediterranean and Morrocan inspired foods; couscous anyone?

  • Clos Floridene Rose Graves AOP $15
  • Clarendelle Rose $14
  • Chevalier Domaine de Rose $16

Red Bordeaux

Excellent value reds often found in under-the-radar appellations

While the whole world fights over wines from Pauillac, St. Julien, and Pomerol, the other 50+ sub-regions of Bordeaux go on producing great value wines.

In general, most sub-$20 Bordeaux have a large proportion of Merlot, save for Cru Bourgeois which are Cabernet-based. We noticed that the higher-rated wines in this group tend to have slightly higher alcohol (at 14% ABV).

A great way to find good tasting Bordeaux is to look for three seemingly arbitrary indicators on the label: Bordeaux Superieur, Cru Bourgeois, and “Grand Vin de Bordeaux.”

  • Bordeaux Superieur AOP is an appellation that has more strict requirements for fruit quality and minimum alcohol level than just plain ol’ Bordeaux AOP.
  • Cru Bourgeois is a classification system for wines from the Médoc (or Left Bank) that contains 245 châteaux who have achieved their Cru Bourgeois status based on quality requirements.
  • “Grand Vin de Bourdeaux” is not a quality standard at all, but something a producer typically uses for their best offerings.

TASTE: Red wines in this range lean towards the earthy side of the spectrum with tobacco, smoke and graphite flavors backed up with plum and blackberry. This is your classic steak wine or if you’re in a veggie mode: mushroom barley stew.

  • Chateau La Grange De Bessan Cru Bourgeois, Médoc AOP $15
  • Chateau Les Grands Marechaux Blaye AOP $17
  • Chateau Joanin Becot Côtes de Castillon AOP $13
  • Chateau La Fleur Calon, Montagne St-Emilion AOP $15

sauternes-wine-2010-by-winefolly
Deliciously rich and sweet wines made with the regions sparse white grapes.

Sweet Bordeaux

There are several sweet wine appellations besides flagship: Sauternes

Sauternes is the flagship appellation of several sweet white wine producing areas in Bordeaux. Sweet wines in Bordeaux are made when noble rot characteristically adds additional dimension by concentrating juice levels in white grapes. Generally, you’ll find the sweet wine appellations close to the Dordogne river where morning fog causes the grapes to rot while still on the vine.

TASTE: The wines have vibrant honey, lemon and ginger flavors with a bright greenish-yellow hue. Most people enjoy these sweet wines on their own, it’s been said that Thai curry and sweet Bordeaux is a thing. The other sweet wine appellations of Bordeaux include:

  • Loupiac
  • Cadillac
  • Cérons
  • Barsac
  • Graves Supérieures
  • Saint-Croix-du-Mont
  • Bordeaux Haut-Benauge
  • Côtes de Bordeaux Saint-Macaire
  • Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux

Perhaps give Chateau Loupiac Gaudiet a whirl at $13 (500ml)


Crémant de Bordeaux

Fruity sparkling wines in the same style as Champagne

Sadly it’s hard to find much Crémant de Bordeaux in the US. If you do manage to find a bottle, expect fruity and slightly honeyed notes from the white and slightly sweet strawberry flavors from the rosé.

Buy the Book - Get the Course!

Get the Wine 101 Course ($29 value) FREE with the purchase of Wine Folly: Magnum Edition.

Learn More

AboutMadeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly

Cover Image for Tasting Challenge: Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon

Tasting Challenge: Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon

Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon graces the final 34 Wines Tasting Challenge. Join us for the last delicious wine in the series.

Read More
Cover Image for Tasting Challenge: French Gewürztraminer

Tasting Challenge: French Gewürztraminer

Discover how a distinctly German grape became a French wine superstar. This week’s tasting challenge sips on Gewürztraminer.

Read More
Cover Image for Tasting Challenge: French Viognier

Tasting Challenge: French Viognier

French Viognier came close to dying out. Jump into this week’s challenge to learn about a tasty, complex wine and how it almost vanished.

Read More
Cover Image for Tasting Challenge: Tavel Rose

Tasting Challenge: Tavel Rose

Tavel Rosé will redefine pink wine when it hits your palate. Jump into this week’s tasting challenge to learn about the wine of raconteurs.

Read More
Cover Image for Tasting Challenge: French Sauternes

Tasting Challenge: French Sauternes

Discover how the Sauternes region of France can go from moldy grapes to one of the most treasured dessert wines in the world.

Read More
Cover Image for Tasting Challenge: French Crémant

Tasting Challenge: French Crémant

Do you have “Champagne taste on a beer budget?” This week’s wine tasting challenge sips an alternative to the regular bubbly: French Crémant.

Read More