At about $10 to $12, you would expect the 2009 Chateau Moulin de Mallet Bordeaux to be a modest example of red wine from that celebrated region of France and you would be right. The big, full-blown wines of the region go way beyond our general price ceiling of $25 for wines reviewed here.
This budget Bordeaux is a blend of 80 percent merlot and 20 percent cabernet sauvignon. It has the nice tannins you would expect but its finish is surprisingly short, although an aftertaste of dark cherry and cola lingers for a bit. The dark cherry, along with a hint of vanilla, is prominent both on the nose and at first sip. Blackberry and a bit of cola chime in at midpalate. The finish may be short but it's clean, making this an affordable wine to pair with foods. It would fare less well if drunk alone.
And with what would we serve this modest red? The usual suspects: a grilled steak with a shallot and red wine pan sauce, a big pungent blue cheese burger, or maybe a pizza with the works.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.