Légende: Affordable Bordeaux Wines

This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.

Affordable and Bordeaux are not two words that typically go hand in hand. Bordeaux is perceived as intimidating, complex and stuffy. First Growth wines can be found for $500 or much, much more and are the wines collectors seek.

But what about us mere mortals? Is there affordable Bordeaux for us to drink? Yes, actually there are plenty. But what if I told you one of them came from First Growth producer Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) for less than $50. You might say that is the stuff legends are made of but Légende has made it true.

Chateau Lafite Rothschild is one of only four classified first growths in Bordeaux. The Chateau was purchased by Baron James de Rothschild in 1868 and today is run by Baron Eric de Rothschild, the fifth generation in the family.

While the Chateau Lafite Rothschild garners praise and high prices for those who seek it, the family also produces a range of more accessible wines that can be enjoyed every day. These wines were originally called the “Réserves des Barons.” From the “Réserves des Barons” and with the idea to offer classic Bordeaux wines that are affordable and can be drunk immediately, the line of Légende was born in 2002 and became available in the U.S. in 2017.

The wines of Légende are made by oenologist Diane Flamand, who also makes Chateau Lafite Rothschild. Légende wines are meant to represent Bordeaux and show how Bordeaux is fun. There is one white wine and four red wines in the collection that represent the four major Bordeaux appellations: Bordeaux, Saint-Emilion, Médoc and Pauillac.

— Bordeaux: The regional Bordeaux appellation covers 112,000 hectares of the vineyard.

Légende Bordeaux Blanc 2016 (60 percent Sauvignon Blanc, 40 percent Semillon) – The grapes come primarily from the vineyards of the Entre-Deux-Mers, located between the Garonne and the Dordogne rivers. The wine is aromatic with notes of grapefruit, lime and pineapple and bright and fresh on the palate with high acidity. [$17.99]

Légende Bordeaux Rouge 2016 (60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 40 percent Merlot) – Ninety percent of the wines produced under the Bordeaux appellation are red wines. Forty percent of the wine spends time in French oak to add to the structure of the wine. A dark crimson color, the wine has notes of red fruit, such as red currant and raspberry, and on the palate is structured with subtle acidity and soft tannins. [$17.99]

—Saint-Emilion – Covering approximately 14,000 acres, Saint-Emilion is located on the right bank of the Dordogne. Merlot is the dominant grape planted as well as Cabernet Franc. The soils are predominantly clay-limestone.

Légende Saint Emilion 2014 (85 percent Merlot, 15 percent Cabernet Franc) – A ruby color, the wine has aromas of bright pomegranate and dried tart cherry, as well as leather, vanilla and sweet spices. There is a liveliness and freshness to the wine which is full-bodied but soft on palate with delicate tannins. [$44.99]

— Médoc – The Médoc is located on the left bank of the Gironde Estuary where Cabernet Sauvignon is the primary grape planted. Merlot and Cabernet Franc are also planted and are blended in the wines. The soils of the Médoc are gravel.

Légende Médoc 2015 (60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 40 percent Merlot) – A deep purple color, this wine is rather austere with notes of blackberry, sweet spices and leather. On the palate it is full-bodied with spicy notes and a long finish. [$26.99]

— Pauillac – Located within the Médoc, Pauillac is where three of the First Growths are located, including Chateau Lafite Rothschild, making it the most prestigious of the six communal appellations.

Légende Pauillac 2014 (70 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 30 percent Merlot) – An intense ruby color, this wine has notes of dried fruit, cocoa and black pepper. It is a big, structured wine that has a long finish. [$54.99]

The wines of Légende of Lafitte Rothschild showcase everyday elegance, finesse and drinkability. The wines are not showy or exuberant; they are not oaky or high in alcohol. The wines of Légende are about balance and prove that Bordeaux wines can be affordable, drinkable and fun.

Read the original story in the Napa Valley Register.