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Grands Crus de Bordeaux: Delicious! An understatement

Grands Crus de Bordeaux: Delicious! An understatement

Union Des Grand Crus de Bordeaux

The Union includes 134 chateaux who are passionate about the unique personalities of their Bordeaux wines – along with 6 million French and international visitors who found their way to this special part of France in 2014. More than 50 percent of the travelers selected the destination primarily for wine tourism – to experience the appellations that include Pessac-Leognan, Graves, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Pomerol, Listrac-Medoc, Moulis – En – Medoc, Haut-Medoc, Medoc, Margaux, Saint-Julien, Pauillac, Saint-Estephe, and Sauternes ou Barsac. First growths include: Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour, Chateau Haut Brio, and Chateau Mouton-Rothschild.

Grape varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. Red wines in Bordeaux are blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and/or Cabernet Franc and white wines are Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

History

Bordeaux has been producing wine since the 8th century. We can thank the Romans for introducing wine to Bordeaux where it was produced for local drinking. The wine was so good that it has been continued, almost non-stop, since that period; however, the Bordeaux wines have had challenges over the years.

In 1851 the vineyards experienced powdery mildew disease. It took 6 years to discover that spraying Sulphur on the vines eliminated the problem. Between 1875 and 1892 it was phylloxera that hit and destroyed the vineyards. The vines were finally saved by grafting Bordeaux scions onto American rootstock and the vines became disease resistant. Mildew, a parasitic fungus followed phylloxera. This disease was brought under control by a blend of slaked lime and copper sulphate.

Economic Engine

Bordeaux is also a historic city that is a UNESCO World Heritage site (2007) and noted as “an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble,” of the 18th century. In France, only Paris has a larger number of preserved historical buildings.

Bordeaux is the capital city of the Girone Department as well as the capital of the world’s major wine industry. The Vinexpo and the wine economy in the city center account for 14.5 billion euros each year. New high-speed trains (TGV), connect Bordeaux to Paris in 2 hours and to Madrid, Spain in a little over 3 hours. The area is an industrial /business sector that focuses on agribusiness, aeronautics, aerospace, bio-technology and electronics. Bordeaux has been labeled, “French Tech City” for its ability to develop innovative technology in addition to producing extraordinary wines.

Currently Bordeaux has about 287,000 acres of vineyards, 57 appellations, 10,000 wine-producing chateaux and 13,000 grape growers. The region produces 960 million bottles of wine, including some of the most expensive wines in the world.

Wine Tasting

At a recent Grand Crus de Bordeaux event in New York City, held at Cipriani’s I experienced a few of the majestic wines from this region. The event attracted hundreds (perhaps thousands) of wine reviewers, wine merchants, wine buyers and producers – all eager to taste and enjoy a few of the wines that are among the best on the planet.

Curated Wine Tasting Notes

1. Chateau Saint- Pierre 2014. Saint-Julien

Chateau Saint- Pierre. 2014.  75 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 15 percent Merlot, 10 percent Cabernet franc. Terroir: Gravel from the Gunz period on a clay-sand subsoil. The grapes are fermented in 76 different steel tanks that range in size. Malolactic fermentation takes place in the barrel. The wine is aged an average of 60 percent in new French oak barrels 14-16 months, depending on the style and character of the vintage.

The Chateau dates back to the 16th century. The property was purchased in 1767 by Baron de Saint Pierre, during the reign of Louis XV. His two daughters inherited the estate in 1832. Saint Pierre was included among the fourth growth in the famous 1855 classification.

Today Francoise and Jean Louis Triaud, and their children, Vanessa and Jean, continue the wine making tradition. Triaud is also the owner of the Girondins de Bordeaux, a professional football team.

In keeping with the 21st century technology, Chateau Saint Pierre was one of the first estates in the Medoc to embrace the use of satellite imagery to help identify the vineyard parcels that are ready to pick. The estate was renovated in 2016 under the direction of Alain Triaud.

• A cranberry garnet tint delights the eye while the nose detects spring fruit, a bowl of young fresh roses and tulips, oranges, blackberries, dark cherries, and espresso beans, with hints of earth and rain. The palate finds a medium-bodied experience with good acidity and chocolate new oak. Pair with steak entrecote marchand de vin (red-wine sauce and shallots), roast chicken or braised, stewed and grilled dishes as well as roast leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic.

2. Chateau La Tour Carnet. Haut Medoc

Chateau La Tour Carnet. Haut Medoc 2010. 59 percent Merlot, 37 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 3 percent Petit Verdot, 1 percent Cabernet franc. Terroir: slopes facing south by southwest with gravel from the Gunz glaciation period on a clay and limestone platform. Aged in oak barrels for 16 months (30 percent new). The grapes are handpicked into small creates and sorted by hand before being transferred by gravity flow into wooden fermentation vats and then into barrel. The estate was included in the 1855 classification. The 2010 vintage received the Bronze award from the Consour General Agricole Paris in 2014.

The medieval castle features a moat from the 12th century and it is the oldest chateau in the Medoc. The current owner, Bernard Magrez, has renovated the estate with a focus on the vineyard, cellars and the chateau.

• To the eye, ruby and garnet red trending to a pale pink rim. To the nose, delicious fresh cherry and strawberries. The palate detects dry to medium acidity, a pleasant and interesting tannin touch, black fruits of plums and blackberries, oak notes of cedar, walnuts and sunshine that delivers a long, bright and breezy finish that is more than enjoyable – it is delicious. Pair with roast prime ribs.

3. Chateau La Cabanne. Pomerol

Chateau LaCabanne. 94 percent Merlot, 6 percent Cabernet franc. 15 months in in barrels: 60 percent. Terroir: Clay gravel with a subsoil rich in crasse de fer (iron pan).

The estate is owned by Jean Pierre Estager family and located in the heart of Pomerol. Vines have been cultivated here since the Gallo-Roman period, the name goes back to the 14th century when serfs who worked in the vineyard lived in cabins.

• Cranberry red to the eye trending to a hint of pink at the edge. To the nose whiffs of musk, earth and wood. Delicious ripe berries demand attention on the palate tempered by a slight acidity with light and pleasant tannins. Complex finish of slightly sour cherries and earth adds to the interest. Pair with dark beer braised beef and venison, braised lamb shanks with fennel, and duck breast with red wine sauce.

4. Chateau Fourcas Hosten. Listrac-Medoc

Chateau Fourcas Hosten 2010. 53 percent Merlot, 44 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 3 percent Cabernet franc.  Aged in French oak barrels for 12 months (38 percent new barrels, 39 percent one-year barrels and 13 percent two-year barrels), and 10 percent tanks. Fined with egg white after the final blending. Terroir: 50 percent Pyrenean gravel, 50 percent clay-limestone.

Chateau Fourcas Hosten has enjoyed a fine reputation for almost 200 years. Located in the heart of the village of Listrac, the 18th century country manor overlooks a clay-limestone plain where Merlot grapes are grown. Cabernet Sauvignon vines are grown further north on the gravel soil of the plateau de Fourcas. Current owned by Renaud and Laurent Mommeja.

• Deep passion purple to the eye trending to cranberry. To the nose a lush aroma of ripe berries with hints of leather and tannins and rich earthy soil. To the palate red cherries and purple plums. Smooth delicious lush finish. Pair with roast beef and duck, barley risotto with duck confit and peas or flank steak a la bordelaise.

5. Chateau Canon Saint Emilion Grand Cru

Chateau Canon Premier Grand Cru Classe. Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2010. 70 percent Merlot, 30 percent Cabernet franc. 14.8 percent alcohol. Terroir: Asteriated limestone plateau with clay veins. Fermentation (8 days) and 10-15 days’ maceration in temperature – controlled wooden and wooden and double skins stainless steel vats with 2 daily pump overs of half or whole volume of the vats and one punching down of the cap skins. Malolatic fermentation (7-18 days) in stainless steel and barrel. Aged in oak barrels – 50-70 percent new, racking every three months; fining with fresh egg whites and no filtering. Appellation: 1er Grand Cru Classe B.

Located on the Saint Emilion limestone plateau, the Chateau overlooks a gentle slope where vines have been grown for a millennium. Maison Chanel have owned Canon since 1996 and it epitomizes a style that is timeless, elegant and always fashionable.

• Deep purple garnet velvet to the eye. To the nose ripe dark cherries, earth, gravel and rocks. On the palate fruit forward of sour cherries, red plums and lavish fruits. Lots of tanning adds interest and complexity to a very luscious wine experience. Pair with beef, poultry, and lamb.

6. Chateau La Tour Blanche. Sauternes

Chateau La Tour Blanche 2010. Sauternes. 83 percent Semillon, 12 percent Sauvignon, 5 percent Muscadelle. Aged 16-18 months in new barrels – 100 percent. Terroir: Gravel with a clay-limestone subsoil.

Started in the 18th century, Chateau La Tour Blance is located in the commune of Bommes, in the center of the Sauternes appellation. The estate overlooks the Ciron river (a tributary of the Garonne) which is responsible for the unique microclimate that gives rise to the famous “noble rot.” Rigourous management of the vineyard (sustainable viticulture, traceability, waste water treatment) and the cellar (new barrels, temperature control) reflect the harmony that has been found between traditional and modern methods. The wine has First Growth status.

• To the eye the palest of sunshine blonde. To the nose a bit of floral, plus honey, honey suckle, lavender, dried apricots and pineapple. The palate senses orange peel, guava, kiwi and ripe bananas with good acidity. Delicious honey and botrytis spice at the finish. Pair with blue or Roquefort cheese.

For additional information: Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux: ugcb.net  

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