BORDEAUX: WORLD CAPITAL OF WINE ? NOT SO SURE !

I won’t make friends by starting like this! I know it … I say this on purpose because for a long time (and still a little now) the Bordelaise region has maintained a reputation of greatness. This is not always easy to maintain, nor is it always accurate.

BORDEAUX, WHAT IS IT? WHERE IS IT ? WHAT IS WHEN?

First, there was the beginning. For a long time, the Bordeaux area was occupied by huge marshes that covered the two banks of the Gironde. Around the 12th century, waters withdrew to the Atlantic Ocean, mixed and brewed all the sediments present in the ground. This would provide the Bordeaux terroir with wealth and nobility.

Let’s jump to 1855, the year of classification of Grands Crus classés of Médoc. It is at this moment that the name of these castles worthy of creating history were inscribed. There’s been only one exception so far: Mouton Rothschild, which passed from second to first « grand cru » in 1973 thanks to the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Jacques Chirac. This marked the first and last change to this ranking.

In parallel, the appellation of Saint-Émilion was created and set up its own classification of grands crus. The first classification of Saint-Émilion Grands Crus appeared in 1955. The goal was to update this ranking every 10 years. It was an excellent idea but much harder to execute! (2 rankings have already been canceled and / or postponed)

What about other existing wines? Do not worry, I’ll tackle that later…

ONLY QUOTATION !

What makes today the reputation and the wealth of wines of Bordeaux, is the price. The price of big names in wine increases a little more year after year. Château Margaux, Pétrus, Château Yquem: there are enough prestigious names to dream of or to scare you … 950, 1450, 2500, 4999 … No! These aren’t the coordinates of the largest cellar in the world but the prices of these expensive bottles. Even without going to extremes, the great wines of Bordeaux are expensive!

“But why?” would you ask me? For the simplest of reasons: There is not enough for everyone. And to that, the law of the market is very strict: the bottle goes to the highest bidder!

In truth, that does not pose me any problem. What bothers me about it is the fact that these bottles often end up in private collections, where they are unfortunately only very rarely opened and tasted.

That’s where my frustration lies. The wine is magical, the wine is a passion and should only have the sole purpose of representing the heritage of a winemaker and the pleasure of a shared dinner.

IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE FUN WITH A GRAND CRU?*

Of course not ! As you go! I will not leave you like that with unanswered questions. Come with me, I will show you how to fix it.

I’m not saying that you should never have fun with a good bottle of a grand cru classé. Myself, I love to enjoy, with friends as tasty as dinner, a bottle of Château Olivier, Pessac Léognan, which costs in 30/35 euros depending on the vintage. There are thousands of wines at lower cost, but the pleasure lies in the fact of offering a “Grand Cru Classé”.

You should know that a great wine costs on average 15 euros to produce. Beyond that, it’s just the price of marketing, reputation, and the quotation.

And nothing more eloquent than a small example:

Let’s look at the differences between Cos d’Estournel and Château Durfort Vivens.

COS D’ESTOURNEL

DURFORT VIVENS

Ranking 1855

2ème cru classé

2ème cru classé

Appelation

Saint-Estèphe

Margaux

Grapes

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot

Price

300 €

70 €

Why such a price difference? The quality has nothing to do with the price, They are two excellent wines (for having the chance to taste and visit the two castles).

It turns out that Château Durfort Vivens, until the 70s, sold his grapes to the castle which is located on the other side of the road, which is none other than the Premier Grand Cru Château Margaux … Fault to produced grapes (bio in addition) for lack of marketing and communication, the quotation has remained low for years. Unfortunately for us, they have caught up since the price of this Margaux rises slightly each year.

WHAT ALTERNATIVES THEN? SHOULD WE STOP DRINKING BORDEAUX?*

Surely not ! Great God Bacchus, no! Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives. And yes because the region is not limited to these great wines, or the Medoc and Saint-Emilion. Bordeaux is big and not only in prestige. Bordeaux is also rich in its diversity: Côtes de Blaye (to pronounce as you like!), Côtes de Bourg, Entre-deux-mers, Cadillac, Castillon … and many others!

It should be known that in most of these names, there is no classification system. So, the simplest is to ask the question to his cellar of trust. Then, at equal price, it will be better to choose the less known name. To choose between a Bordeaux Supérieur at € 9 and a St. Emilion at € 9, I would take the first without much hesitation. Wine is like the rest. We do not escape the rule: the more it is known, the more expensive!

COMFORT CHALLENGE: Take risks! You buy a bottle of wine, not an apartment. Then come and share your impressions. You will be even more proud of you if you manage to find THE bottle.

WHERE TO FIND GOOD BORDEAUX ? HOW TO CHOOSE A GOOD BOOTLE ?*

I will never repeat it enough! The easiest solution is to visit your wine dealer. If he has talent, he will advise you and you’ll find the wine that suits you and the price that suits you! This last point is essential! After do not expect to get a great vintage biodynamic for the price of a « vin de pays » !

For a good Bordeaux, count between 7 and 15 euros in France. Allow yourself a little more for the holidays. And promised, the wine shop does not bite. And if it bites it is that it does not deserve your time and even less your money.

But as, I know that for some the walk to enter a cellar seems huge, I give you my little survival guide to buy your bottle of Bordeaux for your meal Saturday night. (These wines have been chosen by me to agree for an aperitif with tapas, or a grilled red meat).

In Supermarket:

Petit Soutard – 13,90€ – E.Leclerc

Le Bordeaux de Maucaillou – 5,99€ – E.Leclerc

Château Pontet La Gravière – Collection Prestige – E.Leclerc

Pavillon de la Tourelle – Haut-Médoc – 9,50€ – Auchan

Château Mayne-Guyon – 7,99€ – Monoprix

Château de Reignac  – 10,79€ – Monoprix

At the chain wine shop:

Château Suau (Bio) – 9,40€ – Nicolas

Château Camarsac Cuvée Prestige – 14€ – Nicolas

Château Vieux Manoir – 7,60€ – Repaire de Bacchus

Clos des Lilas – 9,50€ – Repaire de Bacchus

At the independent wine merchant:

He made his own selection. I will let him defend and choose his own advice. After all, it’s his job!

Here ! Nothing caught my attention at carrefour for this time. This is just a selection and is not freezing. Share, too, your own favorites and / or impressions.

Finally, this small selection represents only my perception of a good quality / price ratio for Bordeaux red wines. But at least with these bottles you will be able to please your guests or your guests for your next dinner …

AND WHITE WINE THEN !!! IS HE CRAZY ?

Oh yeah ! We can not decently forget white wines, as well as rosé wines.

First of all, for the rosé, the Bordeaux region has two types of rosés. The classic fresh and light rosé made from cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot. Same variety but majority on the merlot for the second category of rosé: bordeaux clairet.

Clairets are the origin of wine. Historically, the clairet was pink because we mixed indifferently the red and white grape varieties at the same time. Today, it is a rosé in its own right with a pronounced red fruit character thanks to a longer maceration than for the pink Bordeaux (between 24 and 48h)

Even if we often prefer the rosés of the South of France and Provence, we will not have to neglect the rosés and clarets of Bordeaux because they know to be magnificent companions for the grills and aperitifs of the first good days!

For white wine, there are also two categories … but that’s another story because I am preparing another folder on the white wines of Bordeaux. On the program, there will be seafood, whites, sauternes, foie gras but not only …

To be continued…

*all these prices were raised in France. there is a good chance that prices abroad will be revised upwards

BORDEAUX: WORLD CAPITAL OF WINE ? NOT SO SURE !
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