Tag Archives: bordeaux

Revisiting 2003 Bordeaux

When high reviews came out for the 2003 vintage in Bordeaux, I was pretty skeptical. Really? Weeks of 100 degree weather producing Bordeaux of that caliber? I don’t think so. Grapes need slow ripening periods of mild sunshine and heat, with cooler temperatures at night. I was in France the summer of 2003 and I guarantee there was nothing mild about that heat, and absolutely nothing to cool you off at night. So if I could not cool down and sleep at night, how on earth could the grapes?

It’s not that I didn’t think the wine from the vintage could be good – I bet it tasted fantastic in the barrels – lots of ripe fruit, higher alcohol, plush in texture – what I doubted was its ability to age well. Even over a few years. When temperatures spike like that in the vineyards, balance gets out of whack in the grapes, and balance is a key component in wine aging. My thought about the ’03 (because I had had some basic ’03 Bordeaux that I did not fancy) was that five years down the road, the wines would take on a “stewed fruit” character, typical of wine that have too much extracted fruit and high alcohol.

But last night, I had the opportunity to taste the 2003 Chateau de Pez, a Cru Bourgeois from St. Estephe. I was bit disappointed when my husband brought it out of the cellar for dinner, as I think we have quite a few better wines than any ’03 Bordeaux. But, it was his birthday, after all, and I was the one that messed up the babysitter schedule which led to us having birthday dinner at home.

We popped out the huge Bordeaux glasses, got the ribeye steak cooking and poured ourselves a bit to swirl and help the wine aerate and open up.

And indeed it did. No longer would I dis the ’03 vintage. There was not a stewed fruit to be found in this lovely bottle. There were marks of blackberry and currant, a touch of wood notes, some coffee style undertones and a bit of herbs. Tannins were elegant, completely integrated but present. Nice long finish and just all around great. I’ve had more complex wines, but this easily beat out a wines I’ve had for twice the price.

Not sure where you can find the ’03, but the 2005 vintage, which is a highly touted vintage in Bordeaux, is currently available and less than $50!

It will be on my next order and will definitely keep you posted on how compares. Meanwhile, I may be digging around to taste some more 2003 Bordeaux. I love it when wine can change your mind.


Club Claret – what is it all about?

590x110-club-claret Club Claret is about Bordeaux. Affordable and approachable Bordeaux. Wine you can drink now, wine that goes with food and wine that offers balance. If you are looking for a “cocktail” wine, Club Claret is not for you. If you want big fruit-bombs with high alcohol, Club Claret is not for you. But, if you seek balance, a sense of place and a good story, I invite you to try one of the Club Claret wines.

101176lThe team behind Club Claret is headed by one of the UK’s top wine experts, Anthony Foster, MW. Based in St Emilion, they search through the thousands of Chateaux in Bordeaux and source exceptional wines at affordable prices. Club Claret takes the effort out of finding a gem, and delivers wines that can be drunk any day or for that special occasion.

How do you know which wine is best for you? Watch the videos of Anthony Foster meeting the winemakers whose wines have been selected to join Club Claret. You’ll see why each wine was chosen and what makes each so special.

 

Please share your experiences with Bordeaux – either through tasting the wines, visiting the region, or just learning about the history.

What you don’t know about Bordeaux

2 glassesIt’s not all grand chateaux and dusty bottles that need 30 years cellar age. This historical region, which has been making wine for centuries, knows what it’s doing and does it well. Some wines are age-worthy collectibles, but the majority are meant to be drunk now and enjoyed with food. Here are some fun facts you may not have known about Bordeaux.

-The region is made up of 57 separate appellations, or AOCs.

-Bordeaux represents 2.3% of total world wine production

-In 2007, the region produced nearly 760 million bottles of wine. That is a LOT of wine.

Carmenere, the grape now associated with Chilean red wines, was once a common blending grape in Bordeaux. It grew out of fashion in the mid-20th century and is now almost extinct.

-“Cot” is the local name for Malbec, a grape that is waning in importance in the region.

-A half-bottle of Bordeaux is called a “fillette.”

-The 1855 classification stands exactly as it did in 1855, with one exception – Chateau Mouton Rothschild moved from a Deuxieme Cru (second growth) to a Premier Cru (first growth) in 1973.

Get all the facts you ever wanted to know about Bordeaux at www.bordeaux.com. And don’t forget to browse our updated affordable Bordeaux section at Wine.com. Especially our Club Claret line up.

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.