Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Discovering Bordeaux

Finally, another trade tasting! And this one was for Bordeaux so I was doubly excited. 'Discovering Bordeaux' was a wine tasting just for the trade and held at the Hyatt in Bethesda. There were 9 companies present to exhibit their Bordeaux offerings along with 3 seminars discussing various Bordeaux topics. I attended the 'Mastering Medoc' seminar. Medoc is a famous commune just north of the city of Bordeaux and includes the popular Pauillac and Margaux. While I did learn quite a bit about the soil, climate and vineyards that make Medoc great, I am quite far from being a 'master' :-).

OK so for those that aren't familiar with Bordeaux, it is a city in Southwest France divided by the Garonne River. The west side is the Left Bank and the east side is the Right Bank. Most Bordeaux wines are blends of several different grapes which allows Bordeaux to highlight the best of each varietal in order maintain a consistent high quality of wine from year to year. The reds are blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. The whites are blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Now, on to the tasting!

As much as I would have loved to taste through every wine at every table, I was actually working this event so I tasted at the end...what was left. My favorite of the evening was the Chateau Paret Beausejour Cotes de Castillon from William Harrison Imports. The deep red showed of black fruit and had a chewy, plummy texture. Very smooth tannins with hints of minerality added complexity to the finish of this wine. I'm told that this is a great alternative (meaning less expensive I think) to Saint-Emilion. Since the comparison was made to Saint-Emilion, I've got to taste one. The Chateau Haut Piquat Lussac-Saint-Emilion fit the bill, and the palate. Aged in oak for 18 months, this wine had very earthy aromas followed by a bouquet of raspberries and cherries. And what a silky, elegant finish.

As the tasting came to a close, I figured I'd finish off with something sweet...a Sauternes. Sauternes is a Semillon-based dessert wine from Bordeaux. Due to a climate of misty mornings and sunny days, a fungus called noble rot will cling to the Semillon grapes. This fungus dries the pulp inside the grape resulting in a concentration of the sugars inside the grape which will then produce a very concentrated sweet juice once the grape in pressed. Sweet in taste, they typically have a honeyed, vanilla aroma. Can be served with as an appetizer, with dessert, or as dessert. The Chateau Sahuc Lestour from Country Vintner was an outstanding example of Sauternes. With its flavors of apricot, caramel and toasted nuts, I couldn't wait for dinner!

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