Exeter head coach Rob Baxter refused to criticise his team after a defeat which leaves themselves with an uphill task in the European Champions Cup.
Chiefs narrowly missed out on claiming more than just a solitary losing bonus at Stade Chaban-Delmas after pushing Bordeaux-Begles close.
The 34-27 result leaves Exeter third in Pool Two ahead of next week's final game against leaders Ospreys, although will need Clermont-Auvergne to lose at home to Bordeaux to take top spot and qualify for the quarter-finals for the first time.
Baxter gambled with his selection by making 13 changes from last week's game against Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership.
He said: "We're disappointed we didn't get more from the game as the scene was set for a fantastic game next week but I can't rip into the players because we came so close.
"I've told the players that we could sit here and rip the game to pieces. We all know there were errors that ultimately cost us the game.
"This is what happens when you have a group of guys who haven't played together for a while but we backed them to help develop the squad to compete in multiple competitions.
"But the reality is that we made a lot of changes and were away in France against a very good team but came up just short. But a lot of what we did here was very good and the character we showed was fantastic."
Dave Lewis, Byron McGuigan and Max Bodily all scored tries. But Marco Tauleigne scored the winning try nine minutes from time after Adam Ashley-Cooper, Blair Conor, Louis-Benoit Madaule and Benat Auzqui had crossed earlier.
Baxter added: "We could look at different moments of the game, had we done this or not done that, but in the end there was just one-try difference between us and going home very happy.
"But I can't fault the commitment of the players. That was the big thing we spoke about. We wanted them to show our quality and what Exeter Chiefs are all about.
"The line-out went awry at times and some decision-making let us down, but those are just bits and pieces that let us down.
"That's what we almost expected when you don't have fluidity in the team from playing together in previous weeks.
"We showed a lot of energy and endeavour but that was just not enough to save us from the lack of fine detail."