It’s not often “Bordeaux” crops up in the same sentence as “bargain” – especially in an article about expensive wines.
That’s not to say Bordeaux‘s best wines are cheap – they aren’t. But a comparison with other regions suggests a certain level of parsimony among the good burghers of Bordeaux. This region is a red wine paradise and it is responsible for most of the images and ideas that we associate with wine – the châteaux, the sense of reverence, the cachet of elegance, even the idea of terroir. From the Cabernet-dominant Left Bank legends to the softer, more perfumed Right Bank, Bordeaux is, in a sense, the very essence of what wine is all about; to find it so relatively affordable comes as something of a shock.
Liber Pater, Graves
Put the words “Bordeaux” and “boutique” together in wine terms and you just know it’s going to be crushingly expensive, and Liber Pater doesn’t disappoint. The wine, named after the original Roman god of wine, is made from ungrafted rootstock by Loïc Pasquet and costs an average of $4742 a bottle ex-tax. The first vintage was in 2006 and the critics have been impressed, giving it an average score of 93.
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One of the first wines people think of when they consider expensive Bordeaux, Petrus is Pomerol’s foremost wine. The estate dates back to 1837, but its superstar status only came since the end of World War II, when the Moueix family took over the distribution. Prices hit the stratosphere in the 1960s and currently stand at an average of $2788.
Le Pin, Pomerol
This tiny estate is a mere infant in Bordeaux terms, emerging in 1979 under the Thienpont family of Vieux Château Certan fame. Tiny production ensures short supply and keeps Le Pin in the upper reaches of the overall most expensive wines in the world, at #21. Its average price is $2682 and it averages a 94 across all critics.
Château Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac
The Bordeaux‘s most famous commune makes an appearance. Easily the most expensive of the classed growths at an average price of $933, it has an average score of 95 and available vintages stretching back to 1812 – the same year Napoleon invaded Russia – giving some idea of its history.
Château Haut-Brion Blanc, Pessac-Léognan
It’s unusual to find a white wine in any top 10 from Bordeaux, but then this is an unusual wine. With an average price of $863 it far outpunches its red stablemate, although both wines score an average of 95 with the critics. It has actually fallen in price in the past three years, from a peak of $932 in June 2014.
Château Latour, Pauillac
One of the world’s most famous and expensive wines and rightfully so – the site has been producing wine since the 1500’s and it made its name in the following century. The price ($808 average) reflects both the critic scores (95 average) and its sheer consistency. You have to go back to 1993 to find a vintage with a critic rating lower than 90.
A grand cru-classed wine from the Right Bank, this small estate concentrates its efforts on soberingly expensive blends of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Tiny production ensures high prices (average $746), but consistently good wines have kept its average critic score at 95.
Château Lafleur, Pomerol
Beloved of Robert Parker, who described Lafleur as one of the greatest wines in the world, this estate was founded in 1872 by Henri Greloud and remains in the family today. Only 1000 cases are made, and there is an unusually high ratio of Cabernet Franc in the mix for Pomerol. The small production ensures the average price remains high, at $717.
Château Cheval Blanc, Saint-Émilion
Often referred to in the past as the sixth First Growth, the white horse has been a favorite of critics, merchants, and consumers since the 19th Century. Famous as the best-known Cabernet Franc wine in the world, it will set you back on average $659, which is reasonable when you consider two of the past eight vintages have average scores of 97.
Château Margaux, Margaux
Something of a favorite among everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Margaux Hemingway’s parents, Margaux has been quietly charming people for six centuries. It was the first claret to be sold at Christie’s (in 1771) and has developed a devoted following. At an average price of $646 and an average score of 95, you can see why.