Bordeaux never ceases to amaze me as somewhere in the quiet backwaters of this great wine region there is always someone creating something surprising. Making wine instils passion in those dedicating their lives and livelihoods to it and I believe that the wines represent something of the personality of these people. Not far from Saint Emilion, in the lieu dit of Malbatit, Olivier Cazenave makes a rather special wine.
Cazenave bought Chateau de Bel on the banks of the River Dordogne in 2003 after working in the wine trade as a Negotiant for many years. The vineyard contained old vines of Merlot and Cabernet Franc – his favourite grape variety. Making his own wines was the realisation of a long held ambition and Cazenave wanted to make with with a difference. Alongside his more traditional, award winning Chateau de Bel (Bordeaux, Bordeaux Superieur), Montagne Saint Emilion, Rosé, La Capitane and Le Clos du Canton des Ormeaux (Pomerol) Cazenave makes the unconventional Le Cuvée Franc de Bel.
Le Cuvée Franc de Bel is a wine made from a single grape variety, it’s 100% Cabernet Franc. However it is revolutionary in that it is made from not one vintage but 3! Historically vitners used to reserve some of their best wines from their best vineyard plots and in Champagne a certain amount of this ‘reserved’ wine is used for blending with wine of the current vintage to make Reserve Champagne. It seems that Cazenave taken the idea one step further with outstanding results. Le Cuvée Franc de Bel is the result of careful blending of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 vintages and has met with high acclaim for both its unique character and its quality.
Ever the innovator, Cazenave is considering the future and is considering planting Malbec and Chenin Blanc. He is definitely a talented winemaker to watch and I can’t wait to see what he creates next.
If you travel the River Dordogne towards its meeting point with the Garonne you’ll see the bastille town of Bourg and the surrounding vineyards of the Côtes de Bourg. Here the Carreau and Jourdan families run Vignobles Blaye Carreau.
Settling in the area in 1900, five generations of this wine making family have expanded their properties to 5 chateaux: Landreau, Eyquem, Pardaillan, Barbé and La Carelle, making wine under the Côtes de Bourg and Blaye appellations. Today they have a wide portfolio of wines which also include a sparkling Cremant de Bordeaux. But it is their Rosé Moelleux that caught my attention. This is a rare find.
You don’t often see Bordeaux Moelleux outside France (I have a lovely white Moelleux at Bordeaux-Undiscovered). The AOC Bordeaux Moelleux is difficult to pin down as its meaning has become somewhat lost in translation. When used in reference to wine the French term Moelleux describes the sensation of the wine as well as its taste: ‘soft, smooth, velvety, lush, mellow’. These types of wines are quite exceptional – slightly sweet, rounded and supple with mouth quenching acidity and superb balance.
It’s a crime that we miss out on them here in the UK. I have never encountered a Rosé Moelleux from Bordeaux before so Vignobles Blaye Carreau’s Domaine de Fombertou Rosé Moelleux is a first for me. I will try and hunt it down when I am in Bordeaux for the En Primeurs!