St Emilion Bordeaux Wine Review
We’ve got 5 right bank Bordeaux wines from Aldi, Waitrose, Lidl, Tesco and Sainsburys. Now all we have to do is blind taste them against each other, to find out which is the best.
St Emilion Bordeaux...
One of the simplest things you learn when you’re growing up is the difference between right and left. The same can be said when you’re learning about Bordeaux wine, specifically the differences between the left bank and the right bank of the Gironde estuary. In a nutshell the wines from the left bank are made predominantly with Cabernet Sauvignon and those from the right are predominantly Merlot based. This makes ‘Bordeaux’ much more complex and variable than many French wine regions.
Today we are drinking wines with a Merlot weighting from the right bank, specifically the area of St Emilion. Some of the wines may also contain some Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot as well as a couple of other permitted grape varieties.
So why is merlot on the right bank?
Well the answer is everything to do with the local terroir, the soil type in St Emilion is clay and chalk which doesn’t retain enough temperature to reliably ripen Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. learn more about cabernet sauvignon
Merlot is a much softer grape than Cab Sav, the tannins are more approachable and consequently the wine is generally easier to drink when it’s younger. The more youthful of these are often sold in supermarkets at a more affordable price. They maybe a far cry from the most famous vineyard in the region namely Cheval Blanc, but are St Emilion wines at supermarket prices any good at all? Having had the opportunity to taste my way through some of the great older vintages, I’m eager to find out.
(slight confession, the Chateau Pey La Tour, is actually from the Entre Deux Mer region but retained its place in the tasting due to it being predominantly Merlot led).
Classic flavours that are associated with right bank Bordeaux are…
As per the wine hack blind tasting rules all the bottles were fully covered so no one knew which they were tasting or in what order. So how did the wines compare?
Smell a rustic market, slight whiff of tobacco
Taste dark berries with a slight acidic edge but rounded
Finish sweet on the finish with a tannic tail end
Buy this if… you want a good value St Emilion which delivers deep dark fruit in a rounded package. There wasn’t much in it at all between this and the Aldi offering, but with the lower price tag this is the best Bordeaux for your buck!
Smell cassis, burnt oak, touch of vanilla
Taste rustic in the way of a good gite, a touch thinner on the palate
Finish well rounded tannins with good length
Buy this if… you want a marginally lighter body that the Roc De Lussac, but still with lots of deep flavour. There was a hair’s width between them and the team really enjoyed the Chateau Peymouton, so hopefully you will too
Smell spice and mince pie
Taste lighter on the taste and initially rounded but dryness quickly sneaks up
Finish a little bitterness on the finish but peters away quite quickly
Buy this if… you want something a little drier and a hint of spice. Still an enjoyable bottle for the price
Smell big fruity pillow, dark fruits, hint of chocolate
Taste mellow fruit, subtle, hint of leaded petrol
Finish sharpens slightly on the finish but still quite soft, lingers
Buy this if… you want a bottle which is more subtle on the palate and which offers a pleasant softness. This scored almost identically to the Tesco offering so again a solid option
Smell lighter on the nose and sharper. Toffee, light oak, and a hint of nail polish
Taste again lighter with more acidity. Blackcurrant present including the stalks
Finish shorter and dry acidity persists. You can taste the alcohol
Buy this if… you want something a bit different from the rest, lighter with a lot more acidity. For the money the team were a bit disappointed and we’d definitely plump for one of the others
With thanks to our 3 guest tasters Catherine, Nick and Andrea who joined the winehack team for the latest blind tasting