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Cellar Club – May 2017


Where to begin when discussing Bordeaux?  That is tough question to answer.  Let’s start with a few basics.  Bordeaux is the world’s most famous wine-producing region (Sorry Burgundy or Napa!).  It produces age-worthy white, red and sweet wines.  What other region can claim as much?  None.

What are the wines produced in Bordeaux?  A quick look at the geography and terroir of western France will give us some cont

ext.  Bordeaux is a port city on the Gironde River.  Upstream are two important tributaries: the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers.  These waterways play an important factor in three ways: mediating the cool temperatures found at the 45th parallel, increasing humidity (instrumental in grape rot which produces the king of dessert wines, Sauternes) and serving as informal boundaries between Bordeaux’s many sub-regions.

Generally, the region is split into ‘left bank’ and ‘right bank’: Medoc and Graves on the west (or ‘left bank’ of the Gironde River), St. Emilion and Pomerol on the east (or ‘right bank’ of the Gironde).  Between these two is Entre-Deux-Mers (‘between the two seas’).

Most of the famous communes exist on the gravelly highlands of the left bank: Margaux, Pauillac, St-Julien, Pauillac, and St Estephe.

Bordeaux is most famous for producing Cabernet Sauvignon, but it’s most widely planted grape is Merlot.  Merlot dominates on the right bank, where wetter, cooler soils make it difficult for Cabernet Sauvignon to ripen (Cabernet Sauvignon loves heat – witness Napa Valley!)  Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot also grown here and play supporting roles in a traditional blend.  A red Bordeaux is almost always a blend Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.  The wines age in oak barrels.  Typical aromas and flavors are cassis, plum, pencil lead, cedar, and violets.  The reds can be quite tannic and structured.

Bordeaux’s white and sweet wines are based on Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon.  There is also a very small percentage of Muscadelle produced but it is never more than a bit player.  Dry white wines are predominantly Sauvignon Blanc blended with some Semillon.  Typical aromas for the whites are lemon curd, gooseberry, white flowers, honey, and fresh herbs.  The sweet wines are usually Semillon-based, as it is greatly affected by botrytis, or noble rot, which dehydrates grapes, concentrates the grapes’ sugars, and adds an exotic spicy, honeyed character to a Sauternes or Barsac.

That’s a lot information, I know.  What is important to take away is that Bordeaux produces great wines of all different types, price points, and styles.  We have chosen a few examples this month to get you started, minus the dessert wine.  We are pouring a great Sauternes in the Wine Bar, please stop in and have a taste!



(Pessac Leognan) – White

Grapes: 80{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Sauvignon Blanc, 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Sémillon

Aging: 10 months in barrel & cask (25{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} of which are new)

Farming: Organic

Chateau Carbonnieux has a long history in Bordeaux – records indicate it was created when a family called “Carbonius” or Carbonnieu cleared and cultivated land near Léognan in 1234.  Thomas Jefferson tasted at the estate in 1786!  The Perrin family purchased Carbonnieux in 1956 – the third generation is being groomed to take over very soon.

Pessac-Léognan is world-renowned for producing some the best dry white wines in the world from clay/limestone soils (marl).  Vintage 2014 is notable for vivacity & freshness.  The house style is always very precise & clean, so the wine is especially focused in 2014.

Look for: A mix of citrus fruits, lime blossoms, crushed rocks, & bit of herbs.  A natural with all kinds of fish, chicken & vegetarian dishes.

“The 2014 Carbonnieux Blanc has a detailed and vivacious bouquet offering attractive blackcurrant leaf and citrus aromas, hints of almond and white chocolate just tucked in nicely below the surface. The palate is well balanced with a slice of bitter lemon on the entry.”  92 Points, The Wine Advocate.

 $35 / Bottle



 Grapes: 65{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Sauvignon, 25{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Merlot, 10{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Franc

Aging: 12 months in barrique, 30{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} of which are new

Farming: Sustainable

Chateau Lalande Borie took its name from its owner, Jean Eugene Borie.  The current owner is Bruno Borie (owner of several estates in Saint Julien, and in the Haut-Medoc, but he is most famous for owning Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou).  Bruno Borie manages the estate along with his sister, Sabine Coiffe.  Chateau Lalande is a relatively new estate in the Medoc – the vineyard was initially created when the Borie family purchased 18 hectares of vines from Chateau Lagrange in 1970.  Lalande-Borie lies to the west of Ducru Beaucaillou on a single plot of 40 acre plot not far from illustrious neighbors Chateau Lagrange, Chateau Talbot and Chateau Gruaud Larose.

The vineyards are higher in elevation and further back from the Gironde estuary, produces a wine with plenty of typical St. Julien characteristics – rich cherry fruits, deep and smooth – but which matures a little quicker than its neighbors. The soils are a mix of gravel and clay. The high clay content is part of the reason that Merlot plays such a prominent role in the blend.

Look for: Smooth.  Juicy blackberry & blackcurrant fruits, hints of pencil lead & violets.  Classic Bordeaux in its presentation while still being extremely drinkable.  Have with a steak or burgers from the grill.

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