Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Love for Bordeaux

When it comes to buying a bottle of wine, narrowing down the choice can be daunting.  Will you buy something based on grape variety?  Producer? Price? I think we can agree that as consumers (and wine lovers) we buy within our means, hoping that the amount of pleasure and enjoyment we get from that wine will be on point with cost.  Maybe it’s not about price at all, but rather a matter of trend. Are we saying no to the classics and instead gravitating towards wines because they are in fashion?  Thanks to globalization, a wine from anywhere around the world is attainable. With all these choices, it’s no surprise that people are steering away from the classics such as Burgundy or Bordeaux and instead reaching for less expensive, more exotic options.  I would argue though, that it might be a time for us to step back, to return to the classics and get familiar again with the Old World, especially Bordeaux.

So much importance is placed on this region in wine studies, however the inherited value and importance of Bordeaux  is not transcended and transmuted to customers in wine bars and restaurants.  Are these wines made accessible to the client? Does the client not demand it? I really don’t buy the idea that it’s too expensive….or that inexpensive, good quality Bordeaux doesn’t exist. I also don’t believe they are not asked for by the client.

Before answering these questions, I think it’s fair to say that Montrealers have a cultured and sophisticated palate when it comes to  wine. However, it has come to my attention recently, that every wine list I see is filled with wines made from obscure grape varieties, or more examples of appellations producing varietals that just don’t seem to fit.  Pinot Noir from Greece? No, thank you.  I’m all for experimentation and respect the risks that winemakers take when making wine.  However, something must be said for tradition and classic quality so when I order a Pinot Noir or Merlot, I want to have the pleasure I normally get from drinking those wines. Sometimes, I do not want obscurity – I want familiarity.  

It is true that some Bordeaux can absolutely be expensive and, quite often unaffordable to the average person.  However, I want to stress that there are plenty of affordable, excellent quality examples out there, they simply need to be more accessible.  The responsibility falls on the sommeliers, wine writers alike.  

Wine professionals, especially sommeliers have the opportunity to taste wine before buying.  Sommeliers are also the ones who promote wine to their customers. Why isn’t Bordeaux being pushed, even by the glass?   There are plenty examples where elegance and depth meet with freshness and flavor that allows for enjoyable, easy drinking.  Very few places in the city offer Bordeaux on their wine list to begin with, so how can clients demand it?  Well… as consumers, we need to start asking for it.

Rarely, will an establishment say no to a client who wants a glass of wine that is not necessarily on the list. After all, they want customers to be happy - they want your business again.  Just last week I went to CRU – an oyster bar in Saint-Lambert, and asked for a glass of Bordeaux, which was not offered by the glass on their menu.  Not the most likely place to offer Bordeaux, right? But, they had it and the owner was more than happy to pour it for me. The wine was beautiful, opulent and drank so well!  I had so much pleasure from it. The point is, if you want something, you need to ask for it.  Don’t assume that just because it’s not on the list it cannot be made available to you. Ask, insist, and…. see what happens. 

Bordeaux deserves bit more respect and there is no better time to start drinking these wines than now. Toss the Classified growths aside and think about those smaller growers and Châteaux who have spent a lot of time, money and effort into improving and updating their vineyards, equipment, and tasting rooms. The wines are only going to get better, especially with the help of the 2009/2010 vintages.   These wines have plush fruit, fresh acidity with a great balance of oak. 

Let’s not forget Entre Deux Mers, a place to find some amazing whites at a great value! As the name suggests, this triangular shaped region is nestled between the Garonne River to the south and the Dorgogne River to the north.  Although this region produces some fine examples of red and sweet wine, only white wine from the region can be labelled as coming from Entre Deux Mers. Most white wines are a blend of Sauvignon Blanc with Sémillon, Muscadelle and Ugni Blanc grapes.  Châteaux Landereau, Châteaux Lestrille and Ninon shine best here, and are meant to be enjoyed young!

A wine blogger, it’s my pleasure to write about the wines I enjoy and share that enthusiasm with my readers.  When I get excited or interested in a particular wine, I become that wine’s ambassador and I want to influence and inform as many people as I can…. So, here is my shout out to Bordeaux…

The SAQ and agencies have plenty of excellent Bordeaux to offer here in Montreal.  There is a whole range that is so versatile in their profile, there are options for everyone’s personal palate. For example, the 2009 Moulin de Citran 2009 or the 2012 Les Ramparts de Ferrière – with its fresh acidity and its earthy texture makes it a great wine to enjoy on it’s own.  The 2005 Château Gruaud Larose is all about elegance and finesse, making it a wonderful wine to accompany filet mignon with Bordelais sauce.  Whatever the  pairing, whaever the reason, we need to go back to the classics.  Back to where some of the most exciting, beautiful, and elegant wines are being made.  Let’s open a bottle of Bordeaux, raise our glasses and sip in bliss.
Blanc de Chasse-Spleen 2015
Grapes: Semillion (55%), Sauvignon Blanc (42%), Muscadelle (3%)
SAQ: 11976404
Price: $38.25
Agent : Charton Hobbs

Round, silky palate with concentrated passionfruit, pear and white flowers.  The acidity is bright, refreshing and is good balance with the salty steely, layered finish.  Drink now or within 2-3 years. (Photo: saq.com)

Les Ramparts de Ferrière 2012
Grapes : Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (40%)     
SAQ : 12194463
Price : $42.25
Agent : Charton Hobbs

A fantastic nose of blackberries, dark cherries with a bit of tobacco and wet wool.  The medium bodied palate has concentrated cassis and plum fruit flavors, dark chocolate and a slight herbs that is supported by a good acidity and tannins that are finely medium grained.  The oak is very well integrated and in harmony with the wine.  The finish is generous and layered – this wine can be held for the next 5-6 years.  Hand harvested and aged in French Oak for 12 months.   (Photo: saq.com)


Moulin de Citran 2009
Grapes : Cabernet Sauvignon (58%), Merlot (42%)
SAQ : 00737924
Price : $29.55
Agent : Charton Hobbs

This wine explodes with loads of dark cherries, blackberries and dusty earth.  The medium bodied wine has lovely fruit, with a very good balance of fresh acidity and tannin structure that is medium yet fine grained, leading to a generous and supple, persistent finish.  The oak is very well integrated…just enough to give it elegance and harmony.  Drink now or within 4-5 years. (Photo: saq.com)

Châteaux Gruaud Larose 2005

Grapes : Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (32%), Cabernet Franc (4%), Petit Verdot (3%), Malbec (1%)
SAQ : 13201071
Price : $467.75 ( 1.5 L )
Agent : Chartson Hobbs

A rich and generous nose of black cherries, blackberries, earth and tobacco.  The medium bodied palate has notes pf blackberry fruit, bramble, and plum, interwoven with bits of herbes de Provence.  The tannins are grippy, the acidity bright, and long and layered very enjoyable finish that has a lot of depth and finesse.  Drink or within the next 10 years.