How is it, just when the Wine Curmudgeon has all but given up on finding quality, affordable French wine from Bordeaux, that I suddenly find some? The red Chateau Sainte Marie ($15, sample, 13.5%), like the white Chateau Martinon, speaks to Bordeaux wine that tastes like it came from Bordeaux and that wasn’t made to please Robert Parker.
Look for a certain earthiness, jammy black fruit that is modern in style but not offensive, smooth tannins, and a soft, merlot-like finish. In this, it’s an upgrade from the cheap red Bordeaux of my youth, which was often harsh and full of unripe fruit, the kind of wine we drank not because we liked it, but because we thought it made us sophisticated.
The Chateau Sainte Marie, from the less known Bordeaux Superieur appellation, is about three-quarters merlot, with the rest cabernet sauvignon, and it isn’t perfect. I would have liked a little more grip, the idea that there was more to the wine than the fruit. But it is solid, well-made, and varietally correct. These days, given its price, that’s more than enough of a reason to drink it.