Varietal wines like cabernet sauvignon, merlot and malbec rule in the United States, but in the Bordeaux region of France, those grapes are typically blended together to produce the wines that have made the region so famous. Demand for those reds has caused prices to spiral upward, but you can still find affordable examples. There are also some interesting Bordeaux-style blends from other regions. Here are the panel's top picks:
2010 Chateau Mangot Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, $30
This is an excellent wine from an outstanding vintage. Merlot dominates the blend, and while it takes a while to open up, when it does you get heady aromas of bright berry, anise, mocha and earth. This is an elegantly structured wine with smooth dark fruit, ripe tannins and a balancing hit of acidity on the long, lovely finish.
2012 Domaines Baron de Rothschild Lafite Bordeaux Réserve Speciale, $16.99
From the same group that produces Ch. Lafite (which goes for about 50 times the price), this wine offers floral aromas marked by soft cherry and strawberry. The flavors are a bright and tangy mix of red berry and cherry that linger nicely. A merlot/cabernet blend, this wine is a lot of bang for your buck.
2012 Revelry Vintners, The Reveler, $15.99
A Washington Bordeaux-style blend, this wine combines cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cab franc, malbec and petite verdot. This richly fragrant wine wears its New World pedigree proudly with ripe, dark fruit and toasted oak aromas. The creamy fruit-forward palate is filled with cherry liqueur flavors and smooth oak. A definite crowd-pleaser.