Tag Archives: bordeaux

Introducing Club Claret

My name is Anthony Foster, Master of Wine, and I work with Club Claret. Club Claret is your fast track to the heart of Bordeaux.

We are always in clip_image002touch with what is going on on a daily basis. I don’t live in Bordeaux but I am an eight iron away and get into the region many times a year. Our job is to find you the real deals and not just the icon wines, though we can offer you those also. Why Club Claret? It is a very English name that Allan Sichel put into words so aptly over 50 years ago.

“Claret is a kindly, sensitive, proud wine. It will be charming to all who wish to make its acquaintance. It will reveal its inner-most self only where confidence will be appreciated and respected. Claret, in short, is capable of expressing beauty and truth, to delight the palate and nurture the mind of the philosopher in all of us. It is food to the mind, not a bludgeon. It reveals its secrets slowly, and becomes at once an inspiration to the striving and a recompense to the successful.”

Bordeaux has produced wines since the dawn of its history. The first reports date from the Roman occupation, but it was several centuries later, when the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine (the ancient name for Guyenne) to Henry II of England brought the whole of the province of Guyenne, including Gascony, into the possession of the English kings, that the wines of the country became known in England. Neither vineyards nor wines, however were as we know them today. At least three hundred years were to elapse before the first cork was used, and about five hundred years before wine was put into glass bottles.

The vineyards in those early days were no more than strips of vines in the cornfields, small patches, mostly in the area just to the south of Bordeaux. The wine they produced was light in color, often made from a mixture of red and white grapes, and was drunk young – within a year of being made. It was, at that time, a crime to sell old wine as new. The merchants of the Sénéchaussée of Bordeaux enjoyed the sole rights of selling wine from the Feast of St. Martin until Easter. The wine was lighter in color than that from the southern vineyards, and it is believed that the designation Clairet, by which it was known, is the origin of the word Claret used today. clip_image002[7]

Nowadays the products of the Bordeaux vineyards are esteemed mainly because of their ability to develop in bottle such delicacy of flavor and aroma that not only is the resultant character intrinsically pleasing but also pleasantly intriguing. Not only does it become possible to recognize a particular wine as a personality, but it becomes impossible to analyse that personality, so perfect is the harmony of the component flavors.

The soil on which the vines are grown is poor soil, suitable for no other crops. The vines themselves have, through the centuries, been selected and developed until today each type of soil is planted with the vine that suits it best, each estate has arrived at just the right proportion of the various authorized vines to suit its local climate. The poor soil contains no excess of any one substance; the vine is not too greedy for any single form of nourishment. The wine itself is made with no interference from man; every minute degree of substance in the soil plays its part, unhampered by any excess of sugar or alcohol, in creating such a rhythm and harmony in the resultant wine that a light Bordeaux of a perfect year may live and improve for half a century.

Now come and join me in the ever-growing world of Club Claret, try some of the wines and really appreciate why this the oldest wine region in the world is still first in every wine-lovers mind. Taste the elegance, sophistication and harmony these wines bring to great cuisine.

Affordable Bordeaux Part II

For our second installment on Bordeaux week, I want to talk about the regions that are producing those “affordable” Bordeaux wines that we are so excited about.

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Bordeaux AOC– Yep, this is an appellation itself (for red wines only) and if a wine is labeled under the  appellation“Bordeaux,” the grapes can come from anywhere in the region and most likely are sourced from multiple areas. These wines are often Merlot-based and very approachable. In a good vintage the Bordeaux AOC wines are great values. You may also see the AOC Bordeaux Supérieur.  One step up from the Bordeaux AOC, these red wines can be more complex and will last a few years in your cellar (if you choose to keep them!).

Médoc and Haut Médoc – another more general appellation, this area is on the left bank, which means the wines are going to be made from a blend based on Cabernet Sauvignon. Home to more prestigious appellations like Margaux and Pauillac, wines labeled Médoc or Haut-Medoc can be similar in quality, but lower in price. Depending on the producer, of course. Haut-Médoc is typically a higher quality level of wine than the Médoc, but not always. Since these wines are based on Cabernet Sauvignon, they can be tannic and structured, so are great accompaniments to appropriate food – like meat!

100752lCôtes de Castillon  – One of my favorites, this region is on the right bank of Bordeaux, so Merlot is the dominate grape. Created in 1989, it is an excellent example of wine to drink now. Fruit-forward, with ripe, supple tannins and great length. These are structured and expressive wines, but very approachable when young. This is a great wine to try if you are just introducing yourself to Bordeaux.

 

 

Please share some of your favorite regions and wines from Bordeaux.

 

Affordable Bordeaux

These two words are not mutually exclusive! Though hype surrounding big vintages and the high prices you see at auctions can make it seem like smithhautthat is the case. But with 57 appellations and over 9,000 wineries, there is a wide range of styles and prices in Bordeaux – something for everyone!

Bordeaux has been making wine for centuries – almost 200 of them! – and it is a region rich in history. Recently tasting some of these more affordable Bordeaux, one thing is clear – Bordeaux today is not just for your parents’ cellar. It’s a delightful and delicious wine perfect for dinners – particularly this season. This week we’ll be blogging all about Bordeaux. Today, some basic facts and tips on navigating the world of Bordeaux.

Grapes

The red grapes used in Bordeaux are: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
The white grapes are Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, what we call a white Bordeaux blend.

Appellations

bdxvinesWhen referring to the red wine of Bordeaux, the region is divided into two parts -  the left and right bank.

Left Bank: Médoc; Haut Médoc; St.-Estèphe; Pauillac; St.-Julien; Margaux; Graves; Pessac-Léognan (mainly white wines); Sauternes (sweet wines); Barsac (sweet wines)

Right Bank: St.-Emilion; Pomerol; Fronsac & Canon Fronsac; Cotes de Bourg & Blaye; Cotes de Castillon

 

Some attributes of each bank:

Left Bank: Cabernet Sauvignon-based blends; gravel soils; structured; higher tannins; mature more slowly
Taste profile: Cherry and currant, plus spice and cedar notes with firm texture

Right Bank: Merlot and Cabernet Franc-based blends; clay-based soils; wines mature earlier; softer tannins
Taste profile: Soft, fragrant plum and berry fruit flavors with supple texture

This little post here just touches the surface of Bordeaux. If you want to delve into the history and appellations of this complex region, I cannot more highly recommend www.bordeaux.com. This site is easy to read and has just about EVERYTHING you want to know about Bordeaux.

Meanwhile, shop our expanded selection of affordable Bordeaux and get 1 cent shipping on these wines all week!

Stay tuned tomorrow when I highlight the the regions from where values are emerging.