Grand Vin de Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a major port city in Southwestern France. For centuries now it has been regarded as one of the world capitals of wine with its ideal location near the Atlantic Coast and crossed by the Garonne River. After coming under the rule of the Roman Empire, the region became most important in the commercialization of tin and lead. After the Empire fell it was overrun by Vandals, Visigoths and other invading forces and many bloody battles were fought for control of this militarily strategic area. Throughout history this region was held and fought over by so many other foreign powers, including the Nazis in WWII, that even half of the list would just take up too much room. And so, that being said, we proceed to its influence on wine production.
Bordeaux’s climate is classed as temperate oceanic with long, warm summers influenced by its proximity to the Bay of Biscay, and relatively short, cool winters. This, coupled with comfortable humidity provides some of the best wine grape growing conditions in the world. Initially, vines were planted by the occupying Romans to lend a touch of home, and to provide for local consumption. Red wines, in particular are normally a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec, and to a lesser degree Carmenere. But in order for a wine to be classed as a Bordeaux, only grapes from the region can be used.
Etienne Barre and Christophe Reboul Salze purchased this winery in 1997 and added to their winemaking craft with several others in the region. Using mostly merlot grapes, roughly 84% for this wine, the vines average age is 17 years. With a soil mixture of limestone and clay, the sandy texture and draining properties add to the natural acidity. To produce the wine the whole berry, including skins, are fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for at least 30 days. Then after a malolactic fermentation, a process in winemaking in which tart-tasting malic acid, naturally present in grape must, is converted to softer-tasting lactic acid, is performed in French oak barrels. Only then is it ready for bottling.
We sampled a bottle of the 2015 vintage, widely considered to be one of the better vintages due to substantial aging in the bottle. It is drinking very well right now. As it lay in the decanter for about two hours we did notice a very slight sediment forming at the bottom which did make us hesitate a bit, but after tasting, we found it to be very quite pleasant. We noticed a slight touch of dark chocolate on the palate, but the overriding flavors of fig and plum gave it a very satisfying aftertaste. It does not linger as long as say a chianti, but it was a very heartwarming taste which beckons a second taste. We paired it with a New York strip and it held up very well, not overpowering the meat, while also not getting lost. I could see this wine also pairing with a stronger, heartier fish, such as a grilled tuna steak. In all honesty though, since we did not finish the bottle, we paired it the following evening at dinner with some pasta and marinara and found that it was not quite right. Better to serve with grilled meats. In fact, I think it would go very well with marinated porcini mushrooms. The textures would blend nicely and create a very welcome variation.
This wine has received much critical acclaim, getting a very respectable 91 points from Wine Enthusiast, 92 from James Suckling and 90 from Wine Advocate. With an alcohol content of 14% and a price in the $21 range, this is a value wine worth discovering.