When it comes to red wines, Bordeaux is a true classic. Usually a romantic blending with a base of Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and melded with varying percentages of Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot this is a wine which is truly international in scope. Bordeaux has its roots in France but blends are now produced in virtually every wine-making country in the world including here in the States.
The winery is based in a farmhouse in the town of Saint Ciers de Canesse and lorded over by the Gravino family as it has been for four generations. Bruno Gravino brings a lifetime of experience as he learned first from his parents, from whom he took over the operation, and later employed by several other companies close to the family business. The vineyard straddles two communes, one being Saint Ciers de Canesse, the other Saint Trojant. As an aside, a French commune is a small rural community, where landowners share ownership of the property and the division of work. These particular communes are nestled on gravel slopes and clay and limestone valleys with a north/south facing which are just bathed by the sun. It is a region that can trace its wine production back to the third century. Using a method of cultivation known as “Reasoned Struggle,” this can be classed as a semi-organic wine because chemical fertilizers are only used when absolutely necessary. In fact the only thing governing each grower is his own conscience and none are subject to any checks as to what is permissible.
This wine, as is true with Bordeaux, is a very deep red/purple color with a distinct aroma of dry black fruits. As it settles into a decanter, which I highly recommend, it sits nicely as it allows the air to mellow it out. Do allow it ample time, about an hour or so to aerate. In the glass it reflects light beautifully as the color deepens in response to the light. On the palate, it is bold, with hints of cherry and leather. Just a note here: a Bordeaux from France is quite different from that produced anywhere else in the world. It is far more earthy and dry, much more so than say its California cousin, which is more on the fruity side. The flavor is more balanced, with more minerality, yet are actually a little lighter in alcohol.
Now, with all of this in mind, keep in mind that this is a French wine which, since its inception, has catered to French tastes, French cuisine and the French lifestyle. So even though this is lighter than an American Bordeaux it can still stand up to a hearty meal. Pair it with something special like a Beef Bourguignon or grilled, well seasoned tenderloin. With an appetizer, I have to admit it would overpower some lighter cheeses like say goat cheese, but would go well with more pronounced cheeses like a vieux lille which is soaked in brine for three months, or with epoisses. Both are soft and strong. Also, both are described by the normally very proper French as “stinky.” Deservedly so, by the way.
Interestingly, the winery is open for tours and gatherings. Guests are welcome for daytime tours and rooms can be had in the castle. Dinners are served in very formal French fashion and are truly an experience to be cherished and remembered.
I found this wine to be a very pleasant, drinkable wine. A bit on the light side, but with a taste and a smooth feel so it does satisfy. It may never become a go-to wine. I would not hesitate to buy it again and serve it even to most discerning guests.
Blend – 60% Merlot, 30% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Price – About $12.00