I’m always on the lookout for cheap French wine, and especially red Bordeaux, that tastes like French wine. Sadly, too much inexpensive French wine has been tarted up for American palates — all fruit, no structure — or made badly on the assumption that those stupid Americans won’t know any better.
Which is why I almost jumped out of my seat at a tasting that included the Causse (about $12, sample, available at selected Centennial, Goody Goody and Sigel’s). It’s produced by the negociant Francois Thienpont, who oversees a company called Terra Burdigala. His wines are uniformly excellent and deliver value, even at the high end, and the Causse is as close to a steal as red Bordeaux gets these days. The Chateau Manoir du Gravoux 2006, a couple of dollars more and harder to find, is also worth a taste.
The Causse is mostly merlot with a dab of cabernet sauvignon. It’s a modern wine (a screwcap!) with softer tannins, ripe fruit and stainless steel aging, but it also delivers traditional French style with plummy flavors, a lingering, dark finish, and just 12.5 percent alcohol. It’s French wine the way those of us who started drinking it in the 1970s and 1980s remember it — cheap and simple and satisfying. Drink this with any red meat or even roast chicken.