I have two examlpes of California Meritage Wines for your consideration as a substitute for French Bordeaux, but it is important to understand that to have a Bordeaux style wine, the wine does not have to be a certified Meritage wine, but rather typically (Sometimes having only two varietals) a blend of any of these six wines: (For Red Wine) Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Melbec, Carménère, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Geyser Peak Alexander Valley 2005 Meritage, $17.99-$35.99, 89 points, is not always an inexpensive wine, but at the lower-end of the price scale is a fair value. Quaffable is a word that comes to my mind as we polished-off this bottle in a brief foray into a mostly Cabernet Sauvignon wine (68%). The color is a deep garnet, but black at the core. The aroma is a pleasing soft coriander-clove.
The wine body is medium to full which carries flavors of primarily plum and licorice, and having a fair finish with some heat.
Lyeth Sonoma County 2006 Meritage, $12.74-$17.99, 87 points, is a more affordable Meritage with a similar profile, though not quite as dry and with almost no heat on the finish as was the case for the Geyser Peak, and also having a medium body. The aroma is a muted cluster of cooking spices, but the flavor, though not as lush, is predominately plum and licorice with a more noticeable tannic presence and a longer finish.
At the lower price, this too is a fair buy and won't break your bank account for something a little different and competently made.
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