We’ve just received our allotment of this Spring’s pre-order of Bordeaux wines from the negociant Yvon Mau. Because we ordered three months ago, we’ve gotten the best price possible...and we pass that savings on to you.
We start with a couple of wines from Bergerac (bear-jer-rac) AOC, which is actually a little east of Bordeaux in the Dordogne region of Southwest France.
Seigneurs de Bergerac White - $10.95
50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon, 10% Muscadell
The blend is that of the classic white Bordeaux wines. It has enough fruit that you can drink it on its own...but it’s really nice with shellfish.
Seigneurs de Bergerac Rosé - $10.95
40% Cabernet Sauvignon,
10% Cabernet Franc
I’ve been waiting all year for this one to come back. But don’t wait too long! Last year it sold out quickly.
Seigneurs de Bergerac Red - $10.95
45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc
A soft and easy drinking red that will pair well with cheeses or casual suppertime fare.
Now for the Bordeaux. These are all reds, most with a preponderance of Merlot in the blend. I’ve tasted them all and judge them to be drinkable now and probably getting better with age. And the prices are extraordinary. You can drink decent Bordeaux without breaking the bank (or buying a security vault to keep it in).
Regions, sub-regions, vineyard sites and the history of Bordeaux are matters of the highest degree of wine geekery. It does, though, help to have a bit of a feel for the geography of the region. On the accompanying map (click on it to enlarge) you can see that the area is where the Dordogne River runs in from the northeast and the Garonne River from the southeast to form the broad Gironde River that runs out to the Atlantic Ocean. The area to the north of the Dordogne is called the “Right Bank” and features wines where Merlot predominates. The area to the south of the Garonne is the “Left Bank,” featuring wines that are mostly Cabernet Sauvignon. Between the two feeder rivers is Entre-Deux-Mers (“between two seas”). This is the largest area in Bordeaux, accounting for ¾ of the wines with the Bordeaux AOC label.
And now the wines:
Château Lavison (lah-vee-zohn) 2009 (Bordeaux) - $13.70
48% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Cabernet Franc
The “Bordeaux” appellation on the label means this Château is not in the upper echelon, but I care more what’s in the bottle than what’s on the label. This is a medium-bodied, unoaked red with soft tannins that will pair well with pork, fowl or pasta.
Château Laurensanne (low-ren-sahn) 2010 (Côtes de Bourg) - $14.75
50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon
This straight-forward blend is from the Côtes de Bourg region of Bordeaux, just across the Gironde River from Margaux. With a rich mouthfeel and subtle earthiness, this could be an all-purpose red.
Château Barrail Chevrol (bah-rye chev-roll) 2010 (Fronsac) - $16.45
80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
Fronsac is a wine growing area that sits side by side with Saint-Èmilion and Pomerol. It is less well known than its illustrious neighbours but is a good match for them. Because the region is undervalued, you get classic, complex French red at a very reasonable price. The predominance of Merlot in this wine means it is ready to drink much earlier than the Cab-heavy wines of the Left Bank.
Château Pont de Pierre (pon de pierre) 2009 (Lussac-Saint-Èmilion) - $21.00
80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc
Lussac-Saint-Èmilion is in the hills above the classic Saint-Èmilion region. This one, named for the “stone bridge” in the city of Bordeaux, is mostly Merlot, and it’s from the vintage many experts are calling the best in many years for Bordeaux and for Saint-Èmilion in particular.
Château Bellegrave (bell-grahv) 2009 (Médoc) - $21.00
40% Cabernet Sauvignon 30% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot
Médoc is the farthest north region of Bordeaux, way up at the tip of the peninsula where the Gironde River enters the sea. The terrain is flat but the gravelly, well-drained soil is the reason there are 1,500 vineyards there. Château Bellegrave is the only selection that leans toward the Left Bank use of Cabernet Sauvignon in the lead, but the great 2009 vintage and the blending of three additional grapes means that this is a wine of distinction for right now and for many years to come.
Château Picoron (pee-kor-ohn) Sélection Prestige Millèsime 2010 (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux) - $21.95
82% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 1% Malbec
The Appellation “Côtes de Bordeaux” was established in 2003 to include several regions on the “edges of Bordeaux” (Blaye, Cadillac, Francs and Castillon). Lucky for us! Here we have a rich blend of almost all of the allowable grapes in Bordeaux reds. It is a wine of great complexity, with a long finish worthy of accompanying savory meats with rich sauces.