BORDEAUX - A new direction?
it’s a shame that my mission as an ambassador for Bordeaux wines this year has come to an end. With 2 trips to the region and a lot of tastings and events under the belt, I got a better idea about where Bordeaux is standing, and where it may surprise you in the future.
So let me share you my thoughts after a fantastic year:
1. Forget about China and the cru classé wines.
When people write about Bordeaux wines, or find movies on youtube, they always talk about chinese investors buying up “all” the wines and about how “expensive” Bordeaux wines are. That’s just silly.
What they really talk about is 3% of the wines produced in Bordeaux. I just look at those 3% as something else. It has everything to do with money, and nothing to do with wine. To me, they could be selling perfume or cars just as well. These top 3% is not a product of nature, it’s a currency.
Just check out this video!
2. Dare to buy a Bordeaux wine
To discover “the other 97%” of Bordeaux wines, I encourage you for once to go to your wine shop with a €10 bill and ask for a Bordeaux wine from an AOC or subregion you don’t know.
I hear you saying : “Why would I do that?!”
Well, there are so many unknown AOC’s in Bordeaux where really good wines are made. And unknown often means affordable and in Bordeaux, and interesting at the same time. It makes no sense to buy a €30 AOC Margaux, when you can buy a super delicious €12 AOC Sainte-Foy de Bordeaux. But I guess you’ll never have heard of Sainte-Foy de Bordeaux. So, just try it for once and tell me what you think.
3. Pink & White
If you want to take less risks but still discover something new, a rosé or clairet wine from Bordeaux is always a good call. I really appreciate the acidity and structure of the rosé and clairet wines. They are very food friendly and never tiring.
And I you want to fall in love, just try a white Bordeaux.
Entre-Deux-Mers whites are a very nice alternative (with a bit more body) than new world Sauvignon Blanc wines, and white wines from Graves or Pessac-Leognan are just epic. No kidding.
They’ve got herbal, flowery flavors, white fruit juice and if the oak aging was done in a controlled way, the most complex mouthfeel and finish. And you should be able to get a great bottle for under €20.
If I had a good cellar, I’d fill it up with white Bordeaux.
I am really curious about your image of Bordeaux, and how it has changed over the last year and maybe after reading my posts. So let me know what you think!
I hope to see you soon!
WINE OF THE WEEK #091
Hi supermarket wine shoppers,
it’s time to try out what the supermarket “Lidl” has to offer.
I picked a Bordeaux wine of €5,99 for you, it’s a wine from Chateau Guimberteau, from the Lalande de Pomerol AOC (a small region just above Pomerol).The wine is a blend from Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. My infographic on Bordeaux wines will help you understand what the grapes bring into your glass.
Actually, there is a very bad reason why I picked this wine: I don’t trust Lidl and this was the most trustworthy wine I could find.
Lidl offers all kind of wines for €2 or €3 a bottle, which is just impossible. The price of the cork, the glass of the bottle and the printing cost of the label alone are worth €2. And we did not even talk about marketing, the making of the wine itself and the distribution costs…
So, I’m sorry, but if your house wine at home retails at €2,99 in the supermarket, you are not drinking wine but drinking flavored water with some chemical alcohols in it.
And I got the feeling that this is what Lidl was trying to sell me : a headache and no wine.
If you would just add another €3 to your budget, you are entering a whole new world of interesting wines, so please just drink a bit less and a lot better.
So I went for the €6 Bordeaux wine, a region that can produce interesting wines for this kind of budget . Not always that elegant and refined, but good enough for a tasty and crunchy glass of red wine.
Let’s find out if I made the right call here…
Given this is a right bank wine, it will probably have a large amount of Merlot in it. So I’m looking for a darker color, like prune or dark cherry.
It’s difficult to say, but the wine looks a bit boring and thin. Don’t really get any hints from looking at the wine.
(I had a cold this week so my nose is not a 100%)
But, I get a dull smell of paint and curtains. I’m serious.
Swirling helps because some blackberries are joining, but overall I must say that I’m disappointed.
The wine shows a nice initial attack, with more dark fruit and some nice acidity.
But than it happens… the acidity goes away immediately and what’s left behind is a dry mouth with an awkward woody flavor. To me it shows that this wine is altered with products, and has no proper qualities. It’s a trap!
I don’t even bother to look for a finish, because a wine without a soul will not say goodbye to you.
Everything I am afraid for when I go wine shopping in the supermarket comes together in this wine. It’s a nice label, a big name and a wine from a famous region, but there is absolutely no value for your money.
Shame on you Lidl!
BORDEAUX - An undercover mission.
this is a post I really am looking forward to share with you.
A while back, in April, I tasted with a jury of Belgian wine professionals a big selection of Bordeaux wines available on the Belgian wine market in the price range of €4 - €20. The selection is published in the press and you can come and taste these wines at the Apéro Vintage de Bordeaux events in Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp and Leuven in September.
Within this selection, we could pick our favorites, the wines that really stood out for us, and call them our “Coup-de-coeur” wines. “Coup-de-coeur is the french word for a crush. I was very proud about the wines I picked ( a white, a rosé and a red wine) and started to get curious : Would my friends or family like these wines as much as I did? What would their remarks be and would they be surprised about the fact that the wines are from Bordeaux?
So I decided to organize a blind battle :
for every coup-de-coeur wine, I tried to find a match : same price range, same grapes and same flavor profile. I let them fill in some tasting notes, asked them about their appreciation and even asked to give the wines a medal like I always do here on my blog. I organized two tasting nights, one at my parents place on a friday night when it was rather hot and humid, and one next sunday at the parents of my girlfriend on a rainy day.
Here are the results
First of all, I started with 2 light rosé wines,
Bordeaux - Le Rosé du Mayne 2011 (Cabernet Sauvignon + Merlot)
Edoardo Miroglio 2009 from Bulgary (Pinot Noir)
Both wines are very light in style, almost like a white wine, and are made with the acidity up front, and not the fruit.
As a score, the Bordeaux wine got an average score of 57,42% while the Bulgarian wine scored 58,82%. A very close call, but why did the Bordeaux wine got beaten by the other wine?
First of all, the Bordeaux wine has a very high acidity and is really a food wine. Tasting it blind before dinner might not have been the best call.
Secondly, on the rainy day, the second rosé scored better because it is really an autumn kind of wine. It has notes of dried leaves, dried cherry and red fruit, while the rosé from Bordeaux is very high on minerality, acidity and has a punch of strawberry in the end.
I have to say that afterwards, at dinner, the Bordeaux rosé was the preferred wine.
Secondly, I switched to white.
Bordeaux - Lise de Bordeaux 2010 (Sauvignon Blanc + Semillon)
Woodhouse Estate 2009 from Australia (Sauvignon Blanc + Semillon)
As a score, the Bordeaux white scored 70,75% and the Australian wine scored 54,17%.
Here, everybody was ecstatic about the white Bordeaux, and that’s exactly what I expected. The enormous punch of energy and aroma of a white Bordeaux is nothing compared to the “average” everyday wine from any other region. For a price tag of only €6 a bottle, this Bordeaux blows you away. So folks, the message is clear, try white Bordeaux!
Drink it as an aperitif (entre-deux-mers) or with a salad, or even try some grilled fish or poultry (graves / pessac-leognan). It delivers every time.
For the last round, I paired a
Bordeaux Superieur - Chateau La Croix Lugagnac 2009 (Cabernet Sauvignon + Merlot)
Telish winery from Bulgary 2009 (Cabernet Sauvignon + Merlot)
This was my closest match, both bottles have the same grapes, the same vintage and come from a region that are both very similar.
As a result, the Bordeaux scored 57,67% while the Bulgarian wine scored 54,67%. Overall, the Bulgarian wine started pleasing everybody with a fruity nose and a very accessible body. But, after a sip or two, the Bordeaux wine started to take over. The structure of the red grapes, the character, the crunchy mouthfeel and the overall freshness made that in the end the red Bordeaux was easier to drink and did a lot better with our food.
What I remember from this tasting was:
- Bordeaux rosé is very structured, light, fresh and does a fantastic job with food. It does not count on fruity almost candy notes, but drives on drinkability. I am sure Bordeaux is a region to look into if you are looking for a good rosé wine.
- Bordeaux white wines for me are amazing. The terroir, together with the aromatics of the Sauvignon Blanc grape, and the fact that a lot of wines are nonetheless oak aged, make up a cocktail of flavor and energy that I have almost never encountered before. One of my biggest wine discoveries so far.
- We all know the expensive red Bordeaux wines. But that’s not what we like to drink. We like wines that are affordable, accessible at a young age, and with a fresh structure to go along with contemporary cuisine. Well, let me tell you that young red Bordeaux wines from regions like Blaye, Bourg, Sainte-Foy, Haut-Médoc, … are doing just that. They are crisp, fun, but still with a certain history behind them that make them interesting and liked by a broad public.
Don’t say that Bordeaux wines are expensive. 3% are, but 97% of the wines are so interesting and accessible that I wouldn’t mind drinking them every day.
I was very sceptical before, but I am really starting to like the region!
Bordeaux - The basics
Hi (Belgian) wine lovers,
with the great Apéro Vintage de Bordeaux events in sight in Brussels, Leuven, Antwerp and Ghent - it’s time to talk a bit more about the vineyards of Bordeaux. I know it’s a complicated region to understand, as I explained to you in a previous post (link-!), but today I am going to help you find your way around one of the worlds most known wine regions.
If you follow me on this one, you will know what to pick in the supermarket or what to order in a restaurant. And that’s pretty handy, right?
I took me a while to find an angle to unravel the mystery of the Bordeaux vineyards, but in the end I figured out it was best to talk to you with graphics. After all, writing about wine is like writing a novel. It’s a fantasy world with characters we like or dislike, with stories we can relate to, and with images we find attractive or not.
I want to show you with this infographic that every Bordeaux wine is a story. It’s a blend of different characters, different relationships between grapes - vineyards - winemakers that make each wine interesting. The power of Bordeaux is in the story it tells.
(click here for the full-size image)
BORDEAUX? Let’s go! (1/4)
as the first of my 4 posts about Bordeaux, I am going to tackle the most difficult topic in the wine world one could imagine : taking the first step and crossing the border into the world of wine.
I like wine so much that I am constantly trying to convince my friends and family to go out an try a good bottle of wine. I believe in the fact that everybody can find a wine that completely synchronizes with who they are and what they believe in, and when you find it, it’s thrilling. The funny thing is that people who took this first step, easily start getting nerdy about wine, start scoring points and act all difficult, and we often forget why we took our first sip. This creates a barrier between the wine nerds and the curious people out there afraid to start discovering.
When I was going to Bordeaux for the first time I had this same scary feeling. I kept on thinking the same thoughts over and over again :
- I am never going to understand this hugely complex region with all its sub-regions (médoc, pessac-leognan, left bank, right bank, …) and sub-sub-regions (margaux, saint-julien, graves, pomerol, …) and when I am going to sit in front of a Bordeaux winemaker or even a teacher from the wine university of Bordeaux, I am going to make such a fool out of myself.
- Secondly, what’s the point of me going to Bordeaux : my average price tag for a bottle of wine is €9 - €12 and I am convinced that this price is the “sweet spot” of the wine industry. Good wine, good price, good fun. I am never going to find the same fun/money ratio in Bordeaux.
- Will I like the wines of Bordeaux? The wines I know from the region are ‘those’ red wines: big full bodied red wines, pumped up oaky red wines, red wines to keep in your cellar for 10 or 20 years before you can even drink it, or red wines you order in a 3* restaurant with a piece of meat for €90 a glass. The kind of wines I like are easy to drink, fresh, juicy and often very young.
- Should I wear a suit?
Now, having made this step, my image of the region has really changed dramatically:
- first of all, it is true that Bordeaux makes premium wine, top notch high tech products with a price tag of up to €3000 a bottle. But, here’s a fun fact, it’s only 3% of the production of Bordeaux. So let’s forget about them. And by the way, they are already sold to some rich Chinese people, so you won’t even be able to find them.
- Now, when you focus on the other 97%, you will soon discover that Bordeaux is like any other region : hills, water, vines and hard working wine makers trying to express in the best possible way what their piece of land has to offer. Of course there are within the 97% some “3% copycats” who do crazy investments to make bad wine. But most of the 97% have something in common : passion. Passion is what drives me as an architect, and what I like to taste in a wine, it is something you can’t measure and something you can’t put a price tag on. You just want to kick ass and give something awesome back to the world. So don’t be scared of a Bordeaux wine, it’s not just a label, but also a good product.
- Secondly, and something that really surprised me, Bordeaux also makes very accessible sparkling wines, rosé wines with a nice fresh structure (I hate it when a rosé wine tastes like a flabby candy) and white wines from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. Actually, the white wines for are my biggest discovery : just go out and try a white wine from Graves one day. If the wine is slightly oak aged, it smells like a huge bunch of white flowers and vanilla. I always see a tall, blond and classy lady in front of me when I smell white Graves. So I like it :)
- Graves, what the hell is that? Surprisingly, understanding a wine map from Bordeaux is a lot easier then I expected. All in all, there are 2 main red grapes and 1 main white grape. (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for the reds, Sauvignon Blanc for the whites) Each grape has its own characteristics and its specific areas within the bigger region.
- No, you shouldn’t wear a suit. If you want to buy a castle, you should, but if you are a happy wine lover like me, you will probably only meet happy wine makers and wine drinkers being more than happy to make you an even happier wine lover.
I really encourage you to visit a wine region one day, or even to go a wine shop near you (not the supermarket), cross the barrier for once, and dare to ask for a bottle of Bordeaux within your price range. You should never pass your own budget, and you’ll see that treasures are easy to find.
twitter : @jellederoeck