The names of Bordeaux wines, to many, are either intimidating or off-putting or both, and give the impression that appreciation of these wines is either an acquired taste or exclusive only to those who consider themselves highly refined in their wine knowledge. No, Chateau Margaux is not a difficult name to pronounce or remember, but Chateau Haut-Brion Pessac-Leognan is. Either way, both wines SOUND pretentious, and therein lies the rub. When there’s a wine on the shelf called 50 Shades of Grey Red Satin that’s a hot seller among the populist masses, how the heck are you supposed to get them interested in a Pomerol, St.-Julien or Pauillac? Depending on which side of the fence you’re on, the name CHATEAU DE FRANCE is either brilliantly non-intimidating or woefully generic. Either way, it’s an excellent Bordeaux for the price. The 2010 Pessac-Leognan, 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, is forceful on the palate—at 14.5% alcohol, traditionally speaking rather high for a Bordeaux, the wine’s very deep purple color swirls with concentrated flavors of boysenberry, blueberry, plum, smoked meat and black licorice. Succulent and lip-smackingly juicy, its texture is silky and saline, and dusty tannins grip you on the finish. It’s a big, bold wine that’s never overpowering and easy for both the intimidated and the pretentious to love. Think of it as a Downton Abbey kind of Bordeaux. Once you get past the foreign accents it’s something very enjoyable that makes you feel awfully smart. –J.M.
Great Wine: Stinson Vineyards Rosé