It's been months since New York Times' wine writer Eric Asimov publicly suggested that Bordeaux was becoming irrelevant among the next generation of wine drinkers. Pricing themselves into obsolescence, as it were. And while I don't entirely disagree -- I'll likely never be able to afford a first or second growth Bordeaux unless something catastrophic happens in the wine market -- I don't really care that much. And it's not because I think Bordeaux is irrelevant, it's that those pricey, classified wines represent just a small percentage of what's made in Bordeaux. To overlook the more affordable wines of the region, which Asimov acknowledged in a later article titled the "Soulful Side of Bordeaux," is just as much a sin as over-valuing the others.
Good Bordeaux, like the best Sancerre, Burgundy or, even, Central Coast Pinot Noir, speaks of the soils where it was grown, but it doesn't have to have a hefty price tag. Skilled viticulture and cellar practices are not as cost-prohibitive as some big-name wineries might have you believe, which means the quality of the wines from the fifth growths like Cantemerle (I love the 2007; at just $26.99 it offers incredible character, depth and some ageability) on down to the so-called petit châteaux is ever-improving.
Take, for example today's wine, the 2005 Mylord, Bordeaux ($10.99), a favorite of K&L's owner and Bordeaux buyer Clyde Beffa and much of the K&L staff. It's an unbelievable bargain from one of the top vintages of the past 20 years, with bold black currant and cherry fruit aromas and flavors backed by juicy acidity and soft tannins. But it's not cloying or jammy like most California Cabs/Merlot blends at this price point -- it's clearly defined and doubtlessly Bordeaux, just without the attitude. And it's drinkable now, a point that can't be overlooked for novice and experienced wine drinkers who just aren't that concerned with building a cellar.
There are many, many more great Bordeaux values on the market like this, from exceptional vintages like 2005, from more classic vintages like 2004 and 2006, and from some sorely undervalued vintages like 2007, it just takes a little more work to find them. And as long as there are champions of Bordeaux willing to seek them out, promote them and make them accessible, then the only thing in danger of becoming irrelevant is the mentality that only the most expensive wines are the ones worth drinking.