“Wine is a vehicle for time travel. You can literally taste what happened that year.” ~ Ian B.
Either someone has been dumpster diving in my Big Blues down at the curb or gotten wind of my homeschooling wine education because a few weeks ago I received the most curious DM on twitter. After polite introductions, the contact said that I had been identified as a ‘Fan of Bordeaux’ and ask if I would like to participate in a Bordeaux.com blog event called ‘Bordeaux in my city: Fan Favorites‘? Shut Up! Me!?! A fan of Bordeaux??? Well, I do like to drink wine . . . so, after cautious DM back and forth I agreed and emailed my info. (This is going to be a long story so go ahead and open that Left Bank Bottle. It’ll have time to decant.)
Bordeaux.com, a wine school and website dedicated to promoting Bordeaux, issued the invitation to participate in their upcoming blog featuring various wine enthusiasts and the Bordeaux available in their areas. To aid in this Bordeaux exploration, they generously sent me a Bordeaux wine tasting kit, a gift card, Bordeaux swag, a handy informational book, a colorful regional map and a wine chart. The wine tasting kit, alone, was an invaluable gift and one that will get lots of future use!
The assignment was go to my local wine shop, pick up some bottles of Bordeaux and go home and play with the tasting kit! In the process, I was to identify a few of the aromas, textures, and colors of Bordeaux wine. Well, the homeschool wine student in me nearly fainted from excitement. Someone wanted to teach me about Bordeaux wine and the region! After sniffing some smelling salts, I got myself to the wine shop.
This was a perfect opportunity to get a snapshot of each side of the Gironde with it’s tributaries Dorgogne and Garoone so I purchased three bottles, one left bank, one right bank, and one white. Let me pause here to give a shout out to my favorite sommelier, Ian, who is a Francophile and walking encyclopedia of wine facts. Who better to assist in buying Bordeaux than a Francophile? May every winelover be blessed with a knowledgeable Somme in their life! Merci beaucoup, Ian. Forty-five minutes later, I was on my merry way with the bottles strapped safely in their car seats. What? How do you transport your wine?
Well, over the coarse of a weekend, each bottle was analyzed meticulously. Just kidding! My husband and I drank them with glee while comparing aromas and colors with the help of the 6 bottles of essences in the kit and the color cards. It was a lot of fun taking a whiff of wine and then comparing it to the black currant or strawberry essence. If freshman Chem1001 had featured a wine tasting unit, I might have done better! Now, per Ian’s instructions, here’s how the actual home-school class, or as I nicknamed it, The Bordeaux Match, went down. The left bank was opened first because it would be the one sampled over two days.
Representing the Left bank and haling from the appellation of Margaux:
Chateau Mongravey Marguax Cru Bourgeois 2012
- 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot
- Aged 14 months in French Oak
- 30 year old vines
- 13% alcohol
After opening, we took a sip sans swirl for the starting point. Then decanted the entire bottle and tasted an ounce every 15 minutes over the course of an hour noting the differences. Finally, I poured each of us a glass cause we definitely earned them and the rest was dutifully put away till the next day. Believe me, not since dropping my first born off at kindergarten have I needed sheer willpower to walk away! What I learned from this little exercise was that this big bold Bordeaux was a complex personality who came to a dinner party polite and reserved and over a delightful evening relaxed and opened up to share rich, amusing anecdotes like an old friend.
Here’s a quick note on the tastes and smells at each 15 minute sip:
First sip: tight with vanilla, green raspberries and black current. Taste #1: Bell pepper, black currant, wet rock, minerals, pepper. There was a pleasant, familiar mystery smell but my untrained brain couldn’t place it. Taste #2: More berries Taste #3: Velvety, pepper, unsweetened raspberry jam, violets. Taste #4: A smell of green strawberry. Mellow, supple, black currants, berries with vanilla showing up again. The second day it was velvet berries in a glass. Practically no acidity. Just full and relaxed.
I dreamed of Bordeaux that night. Since the first bottle was a lot more intense than the usual open and enjoy, I was still going over it with the tasting kit in my sleep.
Representing the Right Bank and haling from the appellation of Saint Emilion:
Chateau Coutet Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2010
- 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
- 150 year-old Merlot vine
- fermented in cement tanks
- Aged 18 months in French oak
- Consultation winemaker, the famed Denis Dubourdieu
- 14% alcohol
Chateau Coutet was decanted 15 minutes and enjoyed over a leisurely 2 hour steak dinner. I was told this was a teenage Bordeaux. Our house is currently filled with the species so I can totally relate. All I could think was Chateau Coutet was everything a teenager would be: bright, bold, in the NOW and sassy fun. We really loved the straightforward drink-ability of this wine with it’s rich body of dark fruits, hints of strawberry and acidity.
In order to keep the bank balanced, I picked up a White Bordeaux from Bordeaux.
Chateau Ducasse Bordeaux 2014
- 60% Semillion, 5% Muscadelle, 35% Sauvignon Blanc
- aged in stainless steel for 6 months
- bottled unfiltered
- producer Herve Dubourdieu
The weekend weather was perfect for chilled white Bordeaux. Warm, sunny and humid. The wine had the aroma of stone fruits and minerals. Yum. It’s crisp tartness showcased the citrus lemon-lime and saline. A nice summer, easy going patio wine.
The Bordeaux match was a trans-formative, educational experience for me. Not to mention, it tremendously enhanced this wine fan’s love of Bordeaux! Merci to Bordeaux.com for enriching my wine education and teaching me each Bordeaux is unique but still carries many of the same distinctive qualities that shouts ‘Bordeaux’ when you drink them.
Huh. I’m still pinching myself! Wine-tasting kit. Best. Gift. Ever. The foolish grin on my face proves it!
Next weekend, wine school’s at my house and I’ve got a kit we can play with. Cheers!
The samples were gifts from Bordeaux.com and I received no other compensation. The opinions are all my own. Now get out there and try a Bordeaux!