Today, the Côtes de Bordeaux is a hotbed of discovery, with smaller, lesser-known estates that have been toiled over by true Bordelais families for centuries. It’s our personal favorite source for finding great everyday Bordeaux reds. It’s where we found this 2015 Clos Sainte Anne Premières Côtes de Bordeaux, the latest value stunner from the region’s “strongest vintage in a number of years,” according to Vinous.
Owners Marie and Sylvie Courselle have leveraged the Right Bank’s signature grapes—90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc—to produce a silky wine, redolent of plum fruit, black currants, violets, savory spice, and bolstered by refined tannins.
Just south of the famed Left and Right Banks of Bordeaux, east of the Garonne River, lies the Côtes de Bordeaux, a sub-region created in 2009. The area’s patchwork of vineyards with sloping hills, steep terraces, and well-draining gravel, alluvial and clay soils, is more reminiscent of Tuscan vineyard-scapes.
In the 1980s, Marie and Sylvie Courselle’s father Francis acquired the 5-acre plot that would lend its name to this Premières Côtes de Bordeaux. Their family has been making wine “between two seas” in Bordeaux for over 100 years. These sisters, both enologists, are also co-owners of Château Thieuley in Entre-Deux-Mers.
On travels south of Thieuley castle, they stumbled upon the southern-facing, terraced clay slopes of Clos Sainte Anne, blanketed in gravel, and knew they’d found one of the Côtes de Bordeaux’s best sites. This well-draining site and the nearby Garonne River create a special microclimate that results in the wine character Bordeaux lovers can’t get enough of—refined black fruits, savory spices, excellent acidity, and age-worthy tannins.
In the 2015 vintage, which Antonio Galloni of Vinous called “the strongest vintage in a number of years,” the perfect amount of vine stress brought an austere backbone that carries the wine’s bouquet of violets and ripe fruits. With 60 percent aged in barrels, of which 20% is new, the rest rests in tank, preserving the freshness of fruit character. They are adamant that wood should never hide—only help accentuate—the quality and generous personality of the famous Côtes de Bordeaux blend.