What do you do when you get an invitation to a grand tasting of wines from France’s Bordeaux region? What we did – we leaped at the chance. Being a blog, we got in for free, but that only made it sweeter.
The tasting was put on by the Union Des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, basically, their winemakers’ marketing cooperative. You’d think Bordeaux pretty much sells itself, but it doesn’t entirely. Aside from the few premiers crus (the really, really expensive and legendary wines like Chateau Margaux), there are a lot of lesser-known wineries in the area. Not to mention that since wine in Europe is named by where it comes from, a lot of people here in the States don’t necessarily realize that Graves and St. Emilion, among others, are part of Bordeaux.
The region is in the southwest of France, not far from the Pyrannees and the English Channel. The growing days are warm and the nights fairly cool. Cabernet Sauvignon is the grape variety most commonly associated with the region, but merlot, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot are the other grapes that generally make up the blends produced in the area. Oh, and sauvignon blanc and semillion for the whites – and, yes, there are some glorious whites made there, too.
The funny thing is, Michael noted that the wines all pretty much tasted alike. This is not to say they weren’t fabulous. They were utterly delicious. Some were more fabulous than the others, but they were all terrific, and rich, and lush, and subtle, and everything you expect from a good Bordeaux.
The big takeaway is that it’s hard to go wrong when you see Bordeaux on the bottle. Or St. Emillion, or Graves, or Pomerol, or St. Julien, or Medoc, or Haut-Medoc, or… You get the picture.
One other caveat, however, these wines are made to go with food. Drinking them in isolation, they will taste good, but a little flat. Pair the reds with a nice bit of dried sausage or a bit of meat, and they spring to life in your mouth.
You can check out the individual wineries and chateaux here. It’s the English version of the site. Oh, and forget about what you’ve heard about snobby French people. Those are the Parisians. The people in Bordeaux are very nice, and back in 1990, when Anne visited on a tour, when they heard she was from California, several actually said, “California? They make good wine there.” Which we do. But so do the nice people in Bordeaux.