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Plans feeling fragile of late? About to throw up your hands in frustration? Don’t despair! Take a breath…and a lesson in embracing the unexpected from one of the world’s most precarious wine regions.

Renowned for expensive and age-worthy wines, Bordeaux is actually prone to some gnarly weather influences. Hence all the Vintage hullabaloo — it takes bookie-level research and projection to decide which vintages will be worth the investment. Let us offer a little clarity and a LOT of affordability on at least one Bordeaux buy-in: 2018.

Early frost and hail menaced much of Bordeaux, but as the weeks around harvest blessedly dried, experts are now agreeing that 2018 fruit was picked at prime ripeness, and should prove an excellent vintage. Here are a few bottles showing promise right now, with potential to keep getting better:

Chateau Palene 2018

750 ml | Reg: $14.99 

With time to open, this bottle becomes expressively aromatic and earthy. Nearly equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a little savory Cab Franc, the nose shows nice pink rose and some leather and earth. Sip to sip, the fruit opens up with black cherry, currant, plum, and some lovely coffee bean. It’s still on the tannic side at this age, so give it a little time to mellow or stash it away for a few years.

Rewards Price: $9.96

Chateau La Croix Blanche 2018

750 ml | Reg: $14.99 

This wine is a bit brooding, but worth some coaxing in the decanter. With great promise for aging, a little patience will yield aromas of wild berry, Bing cherry, nutmeg, and vanilla. Tannins will mellow on the palate to show more cherry, blueberry compote, boysenberry, cola, and dark chocolate. For its higher percentage of Merlot, this wine is surprisingly robust and concentrated.

Rewards Price: $7.96

Chateau De Cranne 2018

750 ml | Reg: $15.99 

Though more approachable upon opening than the other two, this bottle’s tannins could use about an hour to settle. Pomegranate, cranberry, cocoa powder, black tea, and mellow licorice all come through on the nose and palate with a nice juiciness. Still in its youth, the structure and fruit should continue to integrate. It’s 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Rewards Price: $9.96

All prices valid thru 3.10.21

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