March in Bordeaux

March 1, 2018

 

Thank you all for joining me in Verona last month, especially at the MASI wine dinner around Valentine’s day. There’s nothing like a little filet mignon and Amarone to make you grateful for all the beautiful things in life. In March, we head west and north to Bordeaux. Avanti!

 

Bordeaux straddles the Gironde river, which divides Bordeaux in half, giving us the left and right banks, and then forks downstream, forming the delta called Entre-deux-Mers (literally, “between-two-seas”). The left bank (to the south and west of the river) is famous for favoring Cabernet Sauvignon in its blends, whereas the right bank (north and east) loves Merlot. Entre-Deux-Mers produces wonderfully fresh white blends, favoring Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Grapes matter, but location is king in Bordeaux. The real question is: what neighborhood are you in? Knowing where a wine comes from gives us a better idea of what it’s like, and how it will taste.

 

No region on Earth has a wine history like Bordeaux. Evidence of wine production in Bordeaux reaches back to ancient Roman times, nearly 2000 years ago. Since then, no wine region has been as protected or well-regulated. In Bordeaux today, life revolves around wine and food. Every hilltop and every village in the region has its own name and history, and the people that live there are proud of their wine. So proud, in fact, that the French government upholds an extensive system of regulations which determine which growing areas are “worthy” of official endorsement. Bordeaux has 60 places with the designation called “appellation,” making it the richest wine region in all of Europe.

 

Which brings us to this month. Five major red varietals are grown and blended in Bordeaux, depending on the subregion and the winemaker’s preference: Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec (yes, Malbec is a frenchie), Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Luckily, there are five weeks in March - one for each of the storied Bordeaux grapes! While the types of wine will be of French origin, each week’s feature will be from a different location inspired by the Bordeaux tradition.

 

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