The 2008 vintage in Bordeaux is hailed as very fine fro red and whites, and fine for sweet wines.
Recently, most of the grand cru classified chateaux representatives visited Toronto to pour their wines for the media and public. L C B O’s Vintages division organized the event.
At the entrance of the venue, Vintage’s officials were ready to take orders on their computer terminals for delivery.
Below, you will find information about Bordeaux in general, and at the end of the article, the names of wines I found to be outstanding.
France’s biggest and possibly the most famous appellation Bordeaux enjoys, a worldwide reputation for quality, but not consistency. Vintages change from year to year. While in the past century approximately three out of a decade yielded outstanding quality, now many more vintages result in extraordinary wines mostly due to global warming, and reduced yields.
Previously, alcohol levels in Bordeaux wines reached a maximum of 12.5 ABV. Now 13 even 13.5 ABV are routinely achieved, mostly due the changing weather patterns, also because of lower yields from more severe pruning and more efficient cultivated yeast strains winemakers employ.
Bordeaux, located in south-western France, enjoys mild winters (except that of 1956), humid springs, hot summers and sunny fall seasons.
The 45° north latitude bisects Bordeaux, but the vicinity of the Atlantic ocean, Gulf Stream, and rivers Ciron, Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde Estuary contribute greatly to the mild climate.
has more than 50 appellations but can be grouped into three categories. The left bank (Medoc) of the Gironde Estuary is composed of pebbles, gravel and sand, washed down from the Pyrenees millennia ago; the right bank a.k.a Libourne is composed of clay, limestone, sand and a little gravel, all of which drain well. Between the rivers Garonne and Dordogne, soils contain clay-lime, are stony and “cool”.
In each type of soil certain grape varieties thrive, and thus the red wines of the left bank contain mostly cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, petit verdot, malbec and carmenere, while those of the right bank are mostly composed of merlot, not much cabernet franc and very little cabernet sauvignon.
Merlot manages to ripen in “cool” (clay) soils, whereas cabernet sauvignon needs more heat. The pebbles retain the heat during the day and give it off during the night, and help ripen the fruit.
Entre-deux- mers, the region between Dordogne and Garonne produces mostly white wines using sauvignon blanc, semillon and muscadelle.
Cabernet sauvignon is flavourful, yields fine wines, and is tannic. Tannins are bitter when the wine is young, therefore winemakers blend it with softer and fruitier merlot, and cabernet franc, at least in the Medoc sub-region contributes to “spice”. Petit verdot, and malbec contribute to depth of colour, texture, and overall appeal.
On the right bank, merlot plays a much larger role than on the left bank. On the right bank the earlier ripening merlot yields wines of fine fruitiness, depth and elegance, cabernet sauvignon provides the “backbone” and cabernet franc “spice”.
The white wines can be sweet or dry.
Sweet wines originate in Sauternes, Barsac, Loupiac, St. Croix du Mont, and Ste.Foy de Bordeaux. Most are luscious and long lasting. They are created because of botrytis, an air-borne miniscule insect that thrives in humid environments. Botrytis attacks ripe grapes when early mornings are humid and foggy, and later in the day the sun dries the fruit. These insects drill tiny holes in the fruit, thus desiccating berries, rendering them lusciously sweet. This condition is called pourriture noble (noble rot, edelfaule in German, muffa nobile in Italian).
If botrytis occurs before the fruit is ripe it is called grey rot, and this highly undesirable.
Harvesting botrytis-affected grapes is a time-consuming and arduous task, as not all the grapes in the bunch are equally affected. Pickers must select those that are affected, and almost always revisit each vine to ensure that all grapes are harvested. Often pickers inspect vines up to six times to ensure that only appropriately affected berries are gathered, and no bunch is left on the vine.
In successful vintages, Sauternes or all sweet wines of Bordeaux are delightful and cellar worthy.
Bordeaux’s dry wines come mostly from Entre deux mers, and Graves. Generally, sauvignon blanc and semillon are used to produce them. They are fragrant, light, and suitable for light meals, sandwiches, poultry in cream sauces, fried, poached, or sautéed seafood.
Bordeaux labels provide sufficient information to make intelligent purchasing decisions.
All labels contain at minimum the following information:
The name of the estate (picture optional)
Region or sub-region of provenance
Batch identification number
Volume of liquid in the bottle
Alcohol level in percentage
Address of the producer or bottler or negociant
Researchers determined that approximately ten brands or estates are well recognized by Bordeaux consumers in export markets, while a very large number of consumers in Bordeaux and France know about them. The most famous appellations are Medoc, Pessac-Leognan, Graves, Sauternes, Barsac, Loupiac, Entre deux mers, St. Emilion, Pomerol, and Bergerac.
For this reason the following appellations agreed to form a new entity: Cotes de Bordeaux, which incorporates Cotes de Blaye, Cotes de Castillon, Cotes de francs, and Premiere Cotes de Bordeaux.
Cotes de Bourg, a large appellation on the right bank, has not joined, but may soon. As of 2009, all wines from the above sub-regions will be labelled as Cotes de Bordeaux.
Bordeaux produces red, white, sweet, rose and sparkling wine.
While famous estates like Chateau Margaux, Chateau Lafite, Chateau Haut Brion, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, and Château Latour and most the classified Medoc estates, Chateau Petrus, Chateau Cheval Blanc, Chateau Ausone and a few others in St. Emilion and Pomerol enjoy worldwide popularity and sell at very high prices, small estates encounter severe problems in selling their products even at considerably lower prices than their high- end competitors.
The gap between the two groups is the result of the high number of small producers (10,000) and the small number of negociants (400), and the way marketing functions. Traditionally, negociants bought young wines in bulk, often through brokers (courtiers), and aged them at their expense in their cellars and bottled.
Now that most of the producers bottle their wines, this traditional system works to the advantage of famous estates only.
In successful vintages all Bordeaux wines represent good value, but in lesser vintages the classified and better-known chateau still produce considerably higher quality partially because of highly sophisticated selection of bunches before crushing, terroir, advanced winemaking technology and know how.
Bordeaux reds, like all other reds, should be served at approximately 16 – 18 C, rosė 10, whites 9 – 10 and sweet at 14- 15.
If the wines are served too cold, aromas and bouquet cannot be appreciated fully, and too warm causes volatilization of alcohol, and loss of flavour.
Domaine de Chevalier, Pessac-Leognan outstanding aromas of freshly moved grass, well balanced, and refined.
Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion, Pessac-Leognan superbly aromatic, a blend of sauvignon blanc and Semillon, exquisite balance of fruit and acidity. Satisfying aftertaste.
Chateau Latour-Martillac, Pessac-Leognan blend of sauvignon blanc (95 per cent), and Semillon (5), mellow, ripe fruit with expansive flavour in the mouth.
Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere, Pessac-Leognan from this mid-sized estate you can always expect well made and deeply flavoured wines. This vintage is no exception and offers a well-balanced version.
Chateau Smith Haute Lafitte, Pessac-Leognan this small chateau produces mainly red wine, and approximately 3000 cases of white. This elegant and refined blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon was barrel-aged for 12 months. It offers everything you would expect from a Pessac-Leognan wine.
Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere, Pessac-Leognan elegant, full-bodied, fruity and balanced. Would benefit from a one or two year cellaring. Best with roast leg or rack of lamb.
Chateau Pape Clement, Pessac-Leognan This mid-sized chateau is respected for its berry aroma-dominant reds. They are elegant and refined with fine-layered flavours.
Chateau Figeac, St. Emilion composed of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot in equal proportions, this superbly balanced and fruity wine has a long and satisfying aftertaste.
Chateau Clinet, Pomerol this sub-region is at its best with merlot based blends. The 2008 vintage contains 85 per cent merlot, and equal proportions of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. It is smooth and elegant with ripe tannins and a long aftertaste.
Chateau Angelus, St. Emilion an outstanding aromatic, elegant, and sophisticated wine that would please a connoisseur of red wine.
Chateau Leoville-Barton, St. Julien this imposing chateau long known for its full bodied cabernet sauvignon dominated blends offers ripe berry aromas, complex flavours of chocolate, pencil shavings, and long aftertaste.
Chateau Pichon-Longueville- Baron, Pauillac This estate’s gravely soil yields fine cabernet sauvignon and merlots. Ripe berry aromas waft out of the glass. The wine has an intense and complex flavour, is full-bodied and most appropriate for roasted lamb or beef.
Château Lynch-Bages, Pauillac Excellent bouquet of ripe berries. In the mouth an intense pencil shaving flavour along with smoke becomes evident. Balanced with a long aftertaste.
Chateau Coutet this small chateau’s wine always possesses intense Semillon aromas, beeswax, and is honeyed. The intensity of flavour is memorable. You can enjoy this wine with seared foie d’oie gras or ripe peaches/apricots/berries drizzled with whipping cream.
Chateau Rayne Vigneau this 80-hectare chateau is well known for its outstanding sweet wines offering honey/beeswax aromas. The intensity of this Sauternes wine is legendary.
$ 55.00 for 375 ml
Chateau Suduriaut this estate’s wines are blends of 90 per cent sauvignon blanc and 10 per cent semillon offering depth, invigorating fruit aromas, and elegance. Long aftertaste.
$ 49.00 for 375 ml
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.