Master of Wine Jancis Robinson says, “I am always banging on about how price is no absolute guide to quality and I believe this is particularly true of Bordeaux.” She goes on to say that although most first growths sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars per bottle, there are plenty of high-quality petits châteaux wines available for a fraction of that price. In fact, it’s possible to find many top-quality and age-worthy wines for less than $200 per bottle. This guide to the best Bordeaux under $200 will help you discover fine red and white wines that have some of the highest quality-to-price ratios on the market.
The best vintages of Château Latour are among the longest-lived wines in the world. While certain wines like fine port and Tokaji are known to age for 100 years or more, it’s rare to find a red Bordeaux blend with the same aging potential. Château Latour is one of these extraordinary wines. For instance, the 1961 vintage—considered one of the greatest in the estate’s history—continues to develop in complexity even to this day. When Master of Wine Jancis Robinson tried the 1961 vintage a few years ago, she said, “I can hardly believe the drinking dates I am suggesting for this wine! Drink through 2040.”
Pinot Noir is a wine chameleon—it evolves in response to its surroundings, taking on an entirely new personality in every terroir. This light-bodied red wine variety is extremely sensitive to even the slightest changes in climate, which is why there’s such a notable difference between New-World Pinot Noir and Old-World Pinot Noir. While New-World Pinot Noir is often fruit-forward, heavily oaked, and extracted, Old-World Pinot Noir is generally more delicate, acidic, and earthy.
Sweet wine isn’t just for dessert. Contrary to what some wine enthusiasts believe, sweet white wines can be served with savory dishes or appreciated on their own. In fact, some of these wines are just as complex and elegant as drier styles like white Bordeaux, white Burgundy, or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Underneath all of that residual sugar, the top rated sweet white wines are packed with layers of flavor; they’re rarely just “sweet.”
The Umbrian wine region of Italy may be small, but its wines pack a powerful punch. The best wines from Umbria are racy and vibrant and many have aging potential. This region is also incredibly diverse; while it’s known for citrusy, dry white wines, Umbria also produces many bold, tannic red varieties that are gaining in popularity among Italian wine collectors. This guide will explore what collectors need to know about this marvelous “green heart of Italy,” including the area’s best-known subregions, finest producers, and most collectible blends.
If you compare Pomerol vs. Saint-Émilion in a blind tasting, can you tell the difference? Even many well-educated Bordeaux connoisseurs can’t tell these wines apart. Because these appellations are neighbors located in the northwestern region of the Right Bank, their climates are very similar and both areas produce rich, complex Merlot-based blends with great aging potential.
If you enjoy big, bold wines, look no further than South Australia’s Barossa Valley. This warm, sunny winegrowing region produces some of the most concentrated and hedonistic wines you’ll ever taste. From full-bodied, plush wines like 2002 Chris Ringland Dry Grown Shiraz to more acidic and refreshing styles like 2002 Torbreck Grenache Les Amis, wines from the Barossa Valley are extremely powerful. Even the region’s white wine varieties share this characteristic.
Enthusiasts call Barolo “the king of wines and the wine of kings.” This tart, complex Italian wine is so high in quality that it’s often compared to grand cru Pinot Noir from Burgundy. Like exceptional Burgundy, top-rated Barolo is acidic and bracing in its youth, but develops multilayered flavors of earth, dark dried fruit, and alluring floral aromatics as it ages. Great Barolo is worth waiting for.
In Langhe, wine is more than a beverage—it’s a way of life. Winemakers in this hilly area located in the Piedmont region of northern Italy have been cultivating grapes here for many centuries. The region even has a coveted spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list due to its long history of winemaking. The best Langhe wines (particularly Nebbiolo) are intense, tannic, and long-lived, full of heady perfume and bright acidity. Its rich history coupled with the incredibly high quality of the wines has made Langhe a top destination for wine-loving tourists and serious collectors.
The iconic Château Margaux estate is nicknamed the “Versailles of the Médoc.” From its stunning neo-Palladian architecture to its rows of carefully-planted vines, it’s a picturesque estate that’s fit for royalty. The wines themselves are equally alluring. President Thomas Jefferson famously adored these wines, saying, “There couldn’t be a better Bordeaux bottle.” The moody dark berry flavors and heady violet aroma generally present in the grand vin have earned this estate a reputation as one of the world’s greatest wine producers.
Knowing how to buy wine for aging is a challenge for many beginner collectors. This is partially because it’s easy to conflate quality with aging potential. However, just because a wine is delicious and received high scores from critics does not necessarily mean it can age for decades. So, which wines do have great aging potential and why should you age wine at all?
If you ask a serious Burgundy collector which wine they’d love to have in their cellar right now, chances are they will say Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti. Not only is DRC’s flagship wine one of the most delicious ever created, but it’s also a unicorn wine for Pinot Noir enthusiasts. These wines—particularly the highest-rated vintages—can be nearly impossible to find for sale. Still, these iconic wines do sometimes come on the market, and, when they do, you’ll want to be prepared.