Lucky Chateau Mouton Rothschild Vintages For The Chinese Year of the Ram

Clever marketing by Chateau Mouton Rothschild should prove profitable for the chateau’s 2012 vintage this year (as well as some interesting back labels) . . . and it’s all thanks to Mouton’s emblem: The Ram.

2015 - The Year of the Ram

2015 – The Year of the Ram

Chinese New Year falls on Thursday February 19th this year and Chateau Mouton Rothschild in particular is expected to appeal to Asian wine connoisseurs as the ideal New Year gift. The reasons behind this are down to some forward thinking on Mouton’s part involving its latest label design and to the chateau’s emblem of the Ram. 2015 is the Year of the Ram (sometimes known as the Year of the Sheep or Goat) and New Year gifts involving the Ram coupled with certain lucky numbers are considered to be auspicious.

Make no mistake, this is big business.

Mouton's bottle design 2000 vintage is based on the Augsburg Ram in the chateau's Museum of Wine in Art

Mouton’s bottle design 2000 vintage is based on the Augsburg Ram in the chateau’s Museum of Wine in Art

Sotheby’s Auction House is holding Chateau Mouton Rothchild’s first ever ex-chateaux sale in Asia to celebrate the new lunar Year of the Ram on 30th January in Hong Kong. The vintages on offer will span over a century from 1870 to 2012 and are estimated at £2.5 million. The lots will be themed around Mouton and its owners (the Rothschilds) history with one lot containing labels illustrated with the ram; another lot containing vintages ending in ‘8’ (a Chinese lucky number), a lot containing those vintages whose labels have been designed by Chinese artists and a fourth lot containing the 2012 vintage with labels signed by the artist.

Mouton's lucky 2000 vintage

Mouton’s lucky 2000 vintage

Lucky Years for Mouton

2000 – Mouton’s vintage for 2000 was an exception. The bottles were not labelled but were gold-enamelled with Mouton’s emblem, the Ram, in celebration of the millennium. The number zero is lucky in China as it represents completion, like the circle that is used to denote it, it is infinite. The vintage 2000 received 96+ points from wine critic Robert Parker and thanks to its high points and beautiful bottle depicting the golden ram this vintage should be one of the most sought after within China this year.

Mouton's lucky 2008 vintage

Mouton’s lucky 2008 vintage

2008 – The number ‘8’ is regarded as the luckiest number in Chinese culture. Chinese artist Xu Lei’s design for the label is full of symbolism. It features a ram standing on a rock under a grapevine between two halves of the moon (the moon being an integral part of Chinese culture . . . the very calendar which the Chinese people have used for centuries is a lunar one!) The vintage received 94 points from wine critic Parker.

2009 – The number ‘9’ is traditionally associated with the Emperor of China; the Emperor’s robe was embroidered with 9 dragons and there were 9,999 rooms within the Forbidden City. The Chinese word for 9 is a homophone of the word for ‘long lasting’ and represents everlasting love – it was a custom between lovers to send 99, or 999 roses and today 9 is often used in weddings. Oddly enough, the 2009 vintage received 99 points from wine critic Parker. Is this a case of double your luck? The label was created by Anish Kapoor, who also designed our Orbit Tower, which stands above London’s Olympic Park.

2010 – The numbers for this year are made up of a pair of lucky zeros. 2010 was the Year of the Tiger which fell on 14th February, St Valentine’s Day. The 2010 label was designed by American artist Jeff Koons (a brilliant artist-provocateur often compared to Andy Warhol) and is rather saucy. The 2010 Mouton is definitely a tiger – it’s a proud, fierce wine. The vintage received 97+ points from wine critic Parker.

Mouton's lucky 2012 vintage

Mouton’s lucky 2012 vintage

2012 - There is a Chinese saying: ‘good things come in pairs’ and the 2012 vintage appeals to the Chinese thanks to its ‘2s’. The number two in Chinese culture suggests harmony. The 2012 is the latest vintage to be bottled (more recent vintages are still in barrel). The label has been designed by Spanish artist Miquel Barcelo and depicts two rams, face to face, representing ‘the balance and harmony of a great wine, already present in nature, still set a challenge to be met by the work of human hands’. As 2015 is the Year of the Ram this vintage should be very popular in China. The 2012 vintage received 95 points from wine critic Parker.

The Ram and The Baron

Mouton’s adoption of the Ram as its emblem stems from the ‘Mouton’ part of its name; Mouton means ‘sheep’ in French (centuries ago flocks used to graze on the pasture around the estate).

Mouton's emblem at the chateau

Mouton’s emblem at the chateau

The Ram was also the zodiac sign of Baron Philippe de Rothschild (1902 – 1988) who was born under the sign of Aries – which incidentally is my birth sign! .

The Baron is responsible for Mouton’s rise to stardom revolutionising winemaking in Bordeaux by pioneering the bottling of wines at his chateau (rather than selling in barrel), successfully campaigning to promote Mouton to Premier Cru (First Growth) status and for introducing Mouton’s amazing labels.

Mouton's 1996 label was created by Chinese artist Gu Gang

Mouton’s 1996 label was created by Chinese artist Gu Gang

The Labels

Every year since 1945, a great artist has created a special work for the Mouton Rothschild label. The names which have adorned the Mouton labels read like a Who’s Who of eminent 20th century artists: Chagall, Dali, Picasso, Warhol, Bacon, to name but a few. Each label is said to represent the personality of the particular vintage it was designed for and over the years Mouton has used its labels to appeal to various markets. Mouton’s emblem of the Ram mirrors the chateau’s creativity in branding – the Ram is considered to be the most artistic sign in the Chinese zodiac; and one of the most thoughtful.

Given the Chinese interest in symbolism and belief in luck, Mouton’s labels are an excellent selling point within the Asian market.

Mouton’s 2008 label was designed by Chinese Xu Lei, and as you might have guessed Mouton’s prices went up 20% over night on the back of the announcement in 2010. This is not the first time the chateau has used a bottle design that might attract the Chinese market. The 1996 label was designed by Gu Gan (an artist famous for a unique brand of calligraphic painting). However Asia hadn’t entered the market as a major buyer at that point in time so the “Chinese effect” didn’t push up prices.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild's chai

Chateau Mouton Rothschild’s chai

Insider Tip

Will we see Mouton’s prices escalate for the Year of the Ram? The Chinese bubble may have burst but Asian interest in buying has certainly stepped up this year already . . .

According to Wine-Searcher Mouton is France’s most sought after wine and earlier this month Liv-Ex reported that 13% of all trade was for Mouton Rothschild: ‘significant, perhaps, as we approach the Year of the Ram’.

Both Mouton’s 2009 and 2010 vintages are available from Bordeaux-Undiscovered’s fine wine merchant branch, Interest In Wine. The wines have first class provenance; being stored in bond, direct from chateau.

Further Reading:

Guy de Rougemont and Chateau Mouton Rothschild’s 2011 Label

Erotic Label Designed by Jeff Koons for Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2010?

Anish Kapoor and Mouton Rothschild’s 2009 Label

Xu Lei and Mouton Rothschild’s 2008 Label

Wine and Art – Mouton Rothschild and Bernar Venet

Wine and Art: Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Lucien Freud, Comic Relief and Damien Hirst

Posted in Discover The Chateaux, Events & Key Dates, Insider Tips | Leave a comment

Insider Tips – Bordeaux’s 2007 Vintage Comes of Age

Decanter’s January issue has a piece on Bordeaux’s ugly duckling vintages; amongst them is the 2007. Ugly ducklings turn into swans and I have some top tips to help you cherry pick the beauties that were overlooked.

The 2007 vintage gains its wings

The 2007 vintage gains its wings

It pays to be patient with vintages. When scores are released on Bordeaux’s Grand Cru Classes they are only babies, freshly hatched as it were. Barely 6 months old, and still in the barrel, these fledgling wines are criticised and examined for their future potential. Some vintages are strong and full of prowess, others are a little more hesitant and need time to develop before they leave the nest. 2007 is one of these. Now, 7 years down the line the 2007 vintage is starting to flex its wings.

‘The ugly duckling, 2007, is becoming a swan.’

The 2007 vintage has gained deepening balance, polished tannins, harmony and structure

The 2007 vintage has gained deepening balance, polished tannins, harmony and structure

I’ve always been an advocate of the 2007 vintage as regular readers will know from my writing (see further reading below). I believe that the reason why the 2007 vintage was over shadowed is due to the fact that people confused wine investment with drinking. The 2007 vintage generally had a high pH level and as a consequence lacks the longevity that you see in the extraordinary vintages of 2009 and 2010 that followed it. This makes 2007 a very good year for drinking but not for laying down for investment. And good drinking it is, too! I’ve often told customers who know me well that if they are ever in a restaurant and spot a Bordeaux 2007 on the wine list that they should go for it. Their feedback has confirmed my advice.

pape clement label small size

Chateau Pape Clement 2007 Grand Cru Graves from Pessac Leognan. ‘One of the stars of the 2007 vintage’. Beautifully opulent

Chateau La Mission Haut Brion 2007 Grand Cru Graves.  From the same stable as Premier Cru Haut Brion in Pessac Leognan.  'The wine of the vintage'.  Stunning

Chateau La Mission Haut Brion 2007 Grand Cru Graves. From the same stable as Premier Cru Haut Brion in Pessac Leognan. ‘The wine of the vintage’. Stunning


Vintages in Bordeaux are tasted and assessed at En Primeur during April when the great and the good descend en masse to sample the wines in barrel, a good 18 months or so before it is bottled. The wine at this point in time is made from grapes harvested the previous September or October and is only 6 months old. Judgement is passed, the all important critics scores are allocated and prices set.

You might ask why the wines are tasted, appraised and purchased at such a young age and it would be a very good question. It makes more sense to taste the wine when it has developed rather than in its infant state. The answer is that En Primeur is a tradition from the bad old days when chateaux needed to make money fast to survive. Selling the wine young meant that the chateaux would have the funds in place ready for the next harvest and following vintage. This has evolved over the years and nowadays En Primeur has matured into the buying and selling of ‘wine futures’ (purchasing a wine in its early stages at its lowest price either as an investment or as a means of securing limited stock).

Chapelle d'Ausone 2007 Second Wine of Chateau Ausone, Premier Cru Classe A, Saint Emilion.  Supple and delicious; notably less expensive than its stellar parent, Ausone

Chapelle d’Ausone 2007 Second Wine of Chateau Ausone, Premier Cru Classe A, Saint Emilion. Supple and delicious; notably less expensive than its stellar parent, Ausone

Chateau Bellevue Mondotte 2007 – Grand Cru Saint Emilion.  A micro-cuvee with tiny production and cult following, from the same stable as Chateau Pavie, Premier Cru Classe A

Chateau Bellevue Mondotte 2007  Grand Cru Saint Emilion. A micro-cuvee with tiny production and cult following, from the same stable as Chateau Pavie, Premier Cru Classe A

Before wines at tasted at En Primeur Harvest Reports on the growing season are issued and interpreted by the wine industry. They are an early predictor of what you can expect the style and quality of the vintage to be. Harvest Reports tend to fall into those that bear glad tidings and those that are the harbingers of doom. We tend to get very excited in the wine industry if the harvest looks exceptional (there have been no less than 3 vintages heralded as the ‘vintage of the century’ in the last decade: 2005, 2009 and 2010). As for the harbingers of doom, well to be honest unless there is an extreme weather event resulting in disaster it’s pretty much impossible for the top chateaux to make a bad wine these days.

A good year for drinking

2007 has something for everyone and every pocket

‘Wine making technology is cutting edge if you can afford it and poor harvests can be saved in the blending room’.

With the 2007 harvest temperatures were unseasonally low; there was a lack of sun and rain fell at the wrong time of year. However there is an old saying in Bordeaux: ‘Wait until the last grapes are in before making a judgement.’ Wise words. Sure enough the weather came good. Right at the end of the season the sun shone and grapes matured nicely under ripening blue skies. The style of the wine in 2007 was very different to the blockbusters of 2005, 2009 and 2010. The 2007 wines have lower alcohol content compared to their heady peers and when I tasted them at En Primeur 7 years ago I enjoyed their refreshing approachability. At the time I wrote that 2007 should appeal to younger drinkers who are used to drinking New World wines. In their infancy these wines were uncomplicated and were easy drinking – perfect for those who hadn’t tried a Grand Cru Classe Claret before as the 2007 is a good year for appreciating what Bordeaux can offer.

Mathilde de La Fleur Morange 2007 – Second Wine of Chateau La Fleur Morange, Grand Cru Saint Emilion.  Hedonistic and lusicious; notably less expensive than its ascendent parent.

Mathilde de La Fleur Morange 2007  Second Wine of Chateau La Fleur Morange, Grand Cru Saint Emilion. Hedonistic and lusicious; notably less expensive than its ascendent parent.

Chateau La Fleur Morange 2007  Grand Cru Saint Emilion.  A micro-cuvee with tiny production and a loyal cult following; made from 100 year old vines.  'The star of the Right Bank.'  ' Gorgeously full bodied 2007

Chateau La Fleur Morange 2007 Grand Cru Saint Emilion. A micro-cuvee with tiny production and a loyal cult following; made from 100 year old vines. ‘The star of the Right Bank.’ ‘ Gorgeously full bodied 2007

‘The 2007s hark back to the classical Bordeaux of 20 years ago which were very popular in the UK.’

Skip forward to the future and these wines have had time to put flesh on their bones. Light and subtle they may have been but the years in bottle have allowed them deepening balance, polished tannins, harmony and structure. The ugly duckling has turned into a swan.

Insider Tip

The 2007 vintage is not only very reasonably priced thanks to being eclipsed by its peers (you can pick up some real bargains here) but it is also a vintage that you can drink NOW. The greatest Bordeaux vintages are slow burners and are cellared for years, taking decades to reach their peak, with some wines having an anticipated maturity of 20 – 50 years. 2007 gives you the opportunity to taste these wines without the wait.

A vintage you can drink NOW

A vintage you can drink NOW

This vintage also has something for everyone and every pocket. The Bordeaux Superieurs and Petit Chateaux also produced some good wines, although you will have to work hard to spot these as they mature more quickly than the Grand Cru Classe and most have been drunk already. 2007 was a wonderful year for Bordeaux’s white wines. My top dry white Grand Crus are Chateau Pape Clement Blanc 2007, an incredible wine, followed by Chateau Laville Haut Brion 2007. The 2007 sweet whites are very good indeed and the top Premier Crus are superb: Chateau d’Yquem, Chateau Climens and Chateau Rieussec. The Bordeaux Superieurs and Petit Chateaux also produced some good wines, although you will have to work hard to spot these as they mature more quickly than the Grand Cru Classe and most have been drunk already.

Chateau Pavie Decesse 2007 – Grand Cru Saint Emilion from the same stable as Chateau Pavie, Premier Cru Classe A .  'The blockbuster of the 2007 vintage'

Chateau Pavie Decesse 2007  Grand Cru Saint Emilion from the same stable as Chateau Pavie, Premier Cru Classe A . ‘The blockbuster of the 2007 vintage’

.Chateau L'Eglise Clinet 2007  Grand Cru Pomerol.  Unquestionably 'the best Pomerol' in the 2007 vintage.  Astonishling flavours, sleek and smouldering

.Chateau L’Eglise Clinet 2007  Grand Cru Pomerol. Unquestionably ‘the best Pomerol’ in the 2007 vintage. Astonishling flavours, sleek and smouldering

These 2007s are available from Bordeaux-Undiscovered’s fine wine merchant branch, Interest In Wine. The wines have first class provenance; being stored in bond, direct from chateau.

Further Reading:

If you are interested in learning more about the 2007 vintage and its wines checkout my blogs listed below:

The Bordeaux 2007 Harvest – Good or Bad? Make Your Choice

Bordeaux Wine – 2007 Tasting – The Star of the Right Bank

Bordeaux 2007 Tasting – The Red Wines

Bordeaux 2007 Tasting – Wonderful Whites and Cautionary Word to the Chateaux

Chateau La Tour du Pin 2007 – Rare Grand Cru Saint Emilion.  From the same stable as Chateau Cheval Blanc Premier Cru Classe A.  Only a few vintages made.  Tremendous value

Chateau La Tour du Pin 2007  Rare Grand Cru Saint Emilion. From the same stable as Chateau Cheval Blanc Premier Cru Classe A. Only a few vintages made. Tremendous value

Chateau Troplong Mondot 2007 -  Premier Cru Classe B, Saint Emilion.  'A brilliant 2007' from a high flyer.  Superb purity and elegance

Chateau Troplong Mondot 2007  Premier Cru Classe B, Saint Emilion. ‘A brilliant 2007′ from a high flyer. Superb purity and elegance

En Primeur 2007 Prices and Scores

Summary of My Week of Bordeaux 2007 Tastings

Bordeaux – Every Cloud Gas A Silver Lining

.

Posted in Bordeaux Harvest Reports, Drink Like An Expert, En Primeur & Tasting Notes, Insider Tips | Leave a comment

What Wine to Drink on Burns Night – Why We Should Toast The Bard With Claret

Burns Night falls on Sunday 25th this week and as Scotland’s national bard enjoyed a good Claret I explain Scotland’s love affair with Bordeaux . . . and suggest some good reds for the occasion.

Robert Burns (1759 - 1796)

Robert Burns (1759 – 1796)

What to drink on Burns Night?

Traditionally whisky is drunk with haggis on Burns Night but I prefer my whisky after the meal. To my mind we should toast the bard with Claret.

Burns would have often raised a glass of Claret as a toast.

Clarets to pair with Haggis:

It’s wise to choose a Claret that won’t overpower your haggis. You’ll need a wine that is well balanced with good structure. Overly tannic, oaky wines or fruit forward wines with high acidity will not do your haggis justice. A wine that is too tannic or oaky will make your mouth feel dry and can make the haggis taste bitter; a wine that is too fruity or acidic will either mask the flavour of the haggis or give it a metallic aftertaste. A medium bodied, mellow red Bordeaux (Claret) has smooth tanins, layered flavours of dark berry fruits with subtle hints of spice; making it a great match for haggis.

Chateau Chadeuil: Medium bodied Claret. This is a wine that has been produced with good food in mind. It really blossoms with lamb, game and peppery dishes so would be ideal with haggis. £6.99*

Chateau Pessan: Fuller bodied Claret from Graves with superb balance and structure. Pessan compliments fatty lamb dishes and enhances the flavours. £15.99 – currently on offer at £13.99*

Chateau Rauzan Segla: This is a gorgeous Grand Cru Classe Margaux (2nd Growth). A top notch Claret, multi layered and multi dimensional, it is stunning with traditional, richly flavoured fayre. £34.99*

* Prices current at the time of writing.

stone 2

Extract from ‘The Whistle’

Burns – Knee Deep in Claret

Famous the world over as the author of ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ you might think Robert Burns’ favourite tipple was a wee dram of whisky but we know he enjoyed Claret from his poems and songs.

Burns himself was never a man to do things by halves as you can tell from his song ‘Gae Bring Tae Me A Pint O’Wine’.

His poem ‘The Whistle’ was written about a drinking contest, witnessed by Burns, between 3 landed gentlemen to see who could drink the most Claret and still be able to blow a black ebony whistle (which was kept as the prize). It’s said the winner drank 8 bottles!

Quai des Chartrons, Bordeaux

Quai des Chartrons, Bordeaux

The Auld Alliance – Scotland’s love affair with Bordeaux

The Scots love of Claret is tied into the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France (which goes right back to 1295). One of the benefits of the Alliance for the Scots was that Scottish merchants had the privilege of selecting the pick of France’s finest wines: those from Bordeaux. This privilege was eagerly protected for hundreds of years, much to the annoyance of the English.

Claret was the lifeblood of the Auld Alliance.

Based in Bordeaux since the early 18th century, the Johnston family is one of the great names in Bordeaux wine history

Based in Bordeaux since the early 18th century, the Johnston family is one of the great names in Bordeaux wine history

The Wine Quay of Leith was the hub of the wine trade and from there Claret made its way across Scotland. It’s said that in the 13th century there was not a tavern in Edinburgh that did not sell Claret, nor a noble household that did not stock it. Thanks to wars between England and France the Scots sometimes turned to other means of acquiring their favourite drink. In 1594 Scots masquerading as Frenchmen on the high seas captured King Henry VIIIs entire wine fleet for that year. The wine from the 16 vessels was sold in Scotland (but not at Edinburgh as the English Ambassador had just arrived there), instead the loot was transported to Aberdeen.

The Scottish Chateaux of Bordeaux

Bordeaux became home to a lively colony of Scots trading in wines who settled there, establishing their own vineyards, buying chateaux and establishing themselves as wine merchants in the epicentre of Bordeaux’s wine trade, the Quai des Chartrons. Today, Nathaniel Johnston & Fils (est 1734) is the only surviving Scottish wine merchant on the Quai. They are very proud of their Scottish ancestry and one of the three brothers currently running the business is named Ivanhoe. Esme Johnston owns Chateau de Sours and Jean-Marie Johnston continues the family tradition as a wine merchant at Chateau Malecot in Pauillac.

The Scots became important players in the world of Grand Cru Classe; owning some prestigious chateaux.

In the mid 1800s the Johnstons were part owners of Premier Cru (1st Growth) Chateau Latour and also acquired Chateaux Ducru Beaucaillou (2nd Growth Saint Julien), Phelan Segur (Cru Bourgeois Saint Estephe), Dauzac (5th Growth Margaux) and Lascombes (2nd Growth Margaux).

However the Johnstons were not the only Scots to purchase chateaux in Bordeaux:

Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte (Pessac Leognan) takes the ‘Smith’ part of its name from a navigator and wine merchant named George Smith who purchased the estate in 1720. He must have been quite an adventurer as the story has it that he eloped from Scotland having fallen in love with a local peasant girl in Scotland named Elisabeth Lewis

Chateau Brown (Pessac Leognan) takes its name from John Lewis Brown, who moved to Bordeaux from Scotland in the late 18th century, He also owned Chateaux Cantenac Brown (3rd Growth Margaux) and Boyd Cantenac (3rd Growth Margaux).

Chateau Brown

Chateau Brown

Chateau Certan de May (Pomerol) takes its name from the Scottish Demay family who settled in France during the Middle Ages. They were masters of the fief of Certan which also included Chateau Certan Giraud (now Hosanna) and Vieux Chateau Certan.

So, as you can see, Bordeaux owes part of its heritage to Scotland. Let’s drink to that!

Posted in Discover The Chateaux, Events & Key Dates, Recipes & Wine Pairing | Leave a comment

Why You Should be Drinking Muscadet

Could Muscadet, the delicate, dry wine from the mouth of the Loire be on the verge of a boom? It’s undergoing a renaissance and we are being told by renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson MW that we should all be drinking it. I agree, and here are my top tips why you should try it for yourself . . .

Muscadet - clean, bright and appetizing

Muscadet – clean, bright and appetizing

Firstly, Muscadet is a bargain.

The quality of the wine has been pushed ever higher by winemakers struggling to regain a market for this style of wine. The end result is that you getting an awful lot more for your money, even at the expensive end of the range.

‘Muscadet is turning out some seriously good wine at a rock bottom price’.

This could change, especially as Muscadet is predicted to become trendy again. So drink it whilst you can.

Muscadet used to be a very popular drink – in 1989 we drank just under 20 million bottles of it in the UK. However in 1991 Muscadet saw a dramatic collapse in sales thanks to an artic blast that destroyed the grapes. The price shot up, the wines were not as good and consumers looked elsewhere for their dry whites. Winemakers went bust, vineyards were grubbed up and Muscadet fell out of fashion. To recover, Muscadet has had to re-invent itself. It’s taken a couple of decades and now they are back with a bang.

Secondly, it’s worth it.

‘The Muscadets coming out of France now are probably the best produced yet.’

Made by visionaries who refused to throw in the towel; these wines are fresh, vibrant and exciting. It’s about time we clicked on to these wines in the UK . . . Muscadet replaced Champagne at government functions in France in 2012. Enough said.

Wine Style
Modern Muscadets fall into two distinct styles:

Muscadet replaced Champagne at Government functions in 2012

Muscadet replaced Champagne at Government functions in 2012

Style 1: Classic – clean, delicate, bright and appetizing. This is the style of wine that the older generation fell in love with, but with a modern twist. Some of these Muscadets are almost effervescent and give a nice tingle on the tongue. A classic wine to drink with oysters; it rivals Chablis when it comes to food pairing with shellfish. Thirst quenching, light bodied, pure and racy; this style of wine is my favourite. It makes Pinot Grigio hang its head in shame.

Style 2:  Sur Lie – aged, usually in oak barrels, on the lees to give fuller flavour and more complexity. The wine remains on its lees for at least the winter and is bottled straight from the vat where it was fermented, not before the 1st March each year. Traditionally sur lie wines came from the ‘honeymoon barrel’, a barrel set aside for family weddings. This has now been developed into an increasinly popular style of Muscadet.

A third style is in development which involves ageing the wine for even longer on the lees; named Cru Communeaux this classification covers wines in 3 distinct areas (Clisson, Gorges and Le Pallet) . These wines are rich and structured, being able to age in bottle for up to 20 years. This style is so new that the Cru Communeaux was only created in 2011 and it’s still evolving. Others are following the same route – you might see various names like Muscadet Troisième Niveau, Muscadet Villages and Muscadet Haute Expression, all of which are aged on the lees for 18 months to 2 years or more.

Muscadet lies at the mouth of the River Loire

Muscadet lies at the mouth of the River Loire

Key Facts

Location:
Muscadet lies at the mouth of the River Loire, where it empties into to the Atlantic Ocean. The nearest city is Nantes and the neighbouring wine regions are those of the Loire Valley and Brittany.

AOCs:
The AOC Muscadet contains 3 regional appellations:

Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine: the most famous and reputedly the best. Located south east of Nantes and named for the two rivers, the Petite Maine and Sevre Nantaise, which converge there.

Muscadet-Coteaux de la Loire: spread along both banks of the Loire, upstream from Nantes.

Muscadet-Côtes de Grandlieu: located south west of Nantes, on the shores of Lake Grandlieu

Melon de Bourgogne grape

Melon de Bourgogne grape

Grape:
Muscadet is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape which is native to Burgundy. It’s an offspring of Pinot Noir and a cousin of Chardonnay. It was brought to the Loire from Burgundy (where it is now almost extinct) as it can withstand cooler climates and takes its name from the rounded leaves which resemble the shape of a melon.

Some say that Melon de Bourgogne ended up in Muscadet in the 14th or 15th century but most people think that it was introduced by King Louis XIV who ordered it to be planted after Muscadet’s grapes were wiped out in the devastating winter of 1709.

Origin of the name Muscadet:
Muscadet is a bit of a mystery. It’s name not related in any way to the Muscat grape. What’s more Muscadet has no ‘musky’ aromas at all . . . far from it! One theory is that the wine gained its name thanks to the Dutch. Back in the 17
th century they were the main exporters of wines from this area, using Nantes as their main sea port to ship the wine to Holland. Dutch traders and wine makers planted Melon de Bourgogne here to make brandy and used nutmeg (muscade in French) to flavour the wine. Hence the name.

River Sevre running through AOC Muscadet Sevre et Maine

River Sevre running through AOC Muscadet Sevre et Maine

Terroir: Climate and Soils:
Muscadet is dominated by maritime influences of the Atlantic Ocean, so as well as its vineyards being prone to rain, north westerly winds and frost, Muscadet’s wines are said to have a legendary hint of salt. I say legendary as it’s not an apparent flavour in any of the Muscadets I have tasted, however it’s a nice notion especially as Muscadet is THE classic wine to drink with oysters and sea food.

As far as soils are concerned Muscadet vineyards lie on a variety of different types. The vines of the Sèvre et Maine AOC lie on well drained chalky limestone and gravels, but there are also Muscadet vineyards on volcanic soils and granite bedrock. This granite shelf underlies Brittany and travels right down into Muscadet. Thanks to the chalky limestone some Muscadets are known to have a ‘minerally’ or ‘chalky’ taste in the wine.

My Recommended Muscadet:

Caves de La Nantaise Muscadet 2013 – Gold Medal Winner. 12.5% abv. Currently £6.49

Gold Medal Winning Muscadet

Gold Medal Winning Muscadet

Crafted by the Loire specialists Famille Bougrier, backed by 5 generations of winemaking and owners of several ancient domaines.

Tasting Notes:
Classic Muscadet, as fresh as a sea breeze. Bright, delicate flavours of lemon peel, green apple and pear with notes of lime blossom and anise. Beautifully subtle with flinty minerality and a hint of effervescence. Light bodied, dry, crisp and refreshing.

Food and Wine Pairing:
Although Muscadet was made for oysters and pairs beautifully with sea food and fish; it’s a gorgeous tipple in its own right. If you are planning a meal it’s worth bearing in mind that Muscadet is fantastic with fatty foods, buttery sauces and cheese. Try it with roast pork, Chinsese ribs, baked ham, shoulder of lamb or roast duck and goose. It’s crisp acidity can cut through rich, creamy dishes and is a real palate cleanser.

Enjoy!

Posted in Explore Wine Regions, Know Your Grapes | 2 Comments

Bordeaux-Undiscovered Christmas Wine Offers 2014

Logo Christmas Holly James VersionEach week we will be adding new offers and promotions for Christmas right up to 17th December which will build up into a fantastic selection of goodies! We have new wines and superb savings across the board that will ensure a fabulous festive season for one and all.

Christmas Prize Draw BannerYou’ll find we have something for everyone and every pocket with Christmas Specials on Bubbly, Reds, Roses, Whites and Clarets, Christmas Cases, Limited Offers on stellar vintages and an unbeatable Christmas Fine Wine Selection. We will also be reducing prices on lots of your favourites whilst stocks last as a special ‘Thank You’ for all your support this year!

What’s more every customer who buys a case of wine between 22nd October and 17th December will be entered into a Prize Draw to win a case of wine worth over £200!

Take a sneaky peep at what we have planned for Christmas at Bordeaux-Undiscovered and grab the opportunity to snap up our first Christmas Offer – the Christmas Clarets Case!

Christmas Clarets Case Banner 2Christmas Clarets Case

Enjoy 12 top quality Clarets for Christmas at a great price! Perfect with food and deliciously drinkable on their own this case contains a fabulous range of reds to suit all occasions! Our Christmas Clarets Case includes some of our brightest stars; from the top flight Graves, Chateau Pessan (normally priced at £15.99), to top performing vintages from wonderful estates!buy button

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Chateau Sociando Mallet 2006 – 90 Point Wine at an Unbeatable Price

sociando mallet 2006 newsletterTake advantage of being a Bordeaux-Undiscovered customer and snap up the outstanding Chateau Sociando Mallet 2006 at an unbeatable price.  We are offering this stunning 90 point Parker wine from the Haut Medoc at only £23.99 a bottle!.  Haut Medoc was one of the star appellations in 2006 producing some of the best wines for that year and Sociando Mallet is one of our top picks.sociando 2006

As a regular newsletter reader you already know we like to look after our customers and you won’t find this wine at a better deal anywhere else.  What’s more it’s available in single bottles so you aren’t tied down to buying it by the case.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to taste one of Bordeaux’s great fine wines.

Much has been made of the supermarkets, Lidl, Aldi and Tesco gearing up for Christmas with tempting prices on Bordelaise fine wines such as Sociando Mallet, but we like to think that we can go one step further for our customers, so watch this space!  We are cherry picking superb wines from our selection and offering our customers better deals, and better wines,  than the big boys.buy button

sociando mallet 200690 Point Wine:  Sociando Mallet 2006

Scored 90 points by the world authority on fine wine, Robert Parker, Sociando Mallet 2006 has “Classic aromas of black currants, graphite, powdered wet rocks, and earthy undertones compete with the intense black currant fruit present in this structured, medium to full-bodied, concentrated 2006. Always an over-achiever, Sociando Mallet is built for 20-30 years of longevity.”  In fact, Sociando Mallet’s inky purple wines have an unusual capacity for longevity and are one of the longest lived wines made in the Medoc.  The 2006 is drinking beautifully right now.

Parker’s scores are based on a 100 point scoring system and wines rated 90 – 95 are considered to be outstanding wines of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines.  The 2006 Sociando Mallet is a beautifully structured Cabernet based Claret; full bodied, rich and sumptuous.  It’s both powerful and fragrant, having flavours of blueberries, blackcurrant jam, blackberries and ripe raspberries with notes of cherry blossom, truffle and oak.

sociando-mallet-small-200x300Insider’s Tip

Haut Medoc lies in the Medoc (home of Pauillac, St Julien, Margaux and St Estephe).  This AOC sits at a higher altitude on well drained gravel terraces which are best suited for the growing of Cabernet Sauvignon and lies on the Left Bank of the Gironde Estuary.  Sociando Mallet itself is located north of St Estephe in the little village of  Saint Seurin de Cadourne and dates back to the 1600s.

It was purchased in 1969 by Jean Gautreau, a negociant from Lesparre, as a forgotten and derelict property. However the terroir is the same band of gravel that runs beneath the vines of First Growth Chateau Latour and Gautreau saw the potential that others had not.

Sociando Mallet has benefited from 4 decades of investment and improvement and its wines are the insider’s choice for top quality wines, regularly outperforming those produced by its neighbours.

Bordeaux’s 2006 vintage is often over looked as 2005 was such an exceptional vintage (some even claiming it to be the ‘vintage of the century’).  However for those in the know 2006 was a very good year and is the source of some real showstoppers, such as Sociando Mallet.

For what it’s worth this wine particularly from this vintage is one of my favourites because of its length, complexity, roundness and overall character – it’s a wine that will not disappoint particularly when it is drunk with beef, game and wholesome casseroles!

Enjoy!

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Tour de Ryder Cup – Golfers Cycle 1150 Miles to Raise Money for Prostrate Cancer UK and Melanoma UK

TDRC Team 3A quick heads up about a fantastic effort to raise money by a customer for Prostrate Cancer UK and Melanoma UK. He along with 3 avid golfers are cycling their way round the 13 Ryder Cup Golf Courses.

Andy Crowther, Darrne Tordoff, Andrew Walker and Rick Gillgrass are pedalling 1150 miles over 9 days. On route the four will collect flags from all 13 UK and Ireland Ryder Cup host venues, which they intend to present to the Ryder Cup teams when they reach Gleneagles.tdrc 2

The Tour de Ryder Cup was inspired by the death of the riders’ mutual friend Simon Ashdown, also a passionate golfer who, aged 50, lost his battle with Melanoma in December 2012.

It would be wonderful if you could show them some support and follow the teams progress here:

Twitter:
@TourDeRyderCup

Facebook:
facebook.com/tourderydercup

Blog:
tourderydercup.wordpress.com

Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/teams/TDRC

Many thanks and good luck lads!

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Going Back To Your Roots, Discover Organic Wine in Bordeaux – Award Winning Chateau Rioublanc

Rioublanc newsletter bannerBordeaux is going back to its roots as winemakers turn to organic methods to create better wines of higher quality. Organic winemakers believe that the use of chemicals destroys the uniqueness of the land and the individuality of the flavour that this terroir imparts to the wine. They have a good point.

Chemicals used to combat pests can be absorbed into the grape vine, passing into the fruit. As a result, residues of these chemicals find their way into the finished wine. This has worried consumers for some time and many wine lovers are turning to organic wines for health reasons and because of their desire to support eco-friendly vineyards.

Organic wines are growing in popularity with wine lovers and you will often see these wines in France displaying the green and white ‘AB’ label. This stands for ‘Agriculture Biologique’ and the vineyards have to meet certain criteria in order to qualify. The wines have to be made from organically grown grapes which means that the winemakers do not use 425942_249891325100099_175064702_nchemical weed killers, pesticides, fertilizers or fungicides on their crops.

In Bordeaux the number of organic estates have increased from 3% to 7% in the last decade, with organic wine production growing at a higher rate than non-organic in some recent years. Chateaux are focused on increasing biodiversity and promoting more sustainable wine making. Several of the famous Grand Cru Classés have adopted organic methods in the vineyards, some even going back to horse power (notably Chateaux Margaux, Pontet Canet, La Lagune and Domaine de Chevalier).

Chateau Pape Clement has gone one step further and has returned to its 19th century past with the reintroduction of oxen. They are very powerful – an ox can pull and hold more than twice its weight and Marel and Blanc will be able to pull mowing and cutting machinery.Rioublanc Red 2010 label

Many of the smaller estates, the Petits Chateaux, are also organic. One in particular, Chateau Rioublanc, produces both a lovely red and a white wine. This is a family owned winery located in Saint Ciers d’Abzac, not far from Pomerol and Saint Emilion. Philippe Carretero represents the latest generation to handle the reins at this small chateau, which is certified both ‘Agriculture Biologique,’ ‘Ecocert’ and ‘EU Organic’ . In fact, the vines at Rioublanc have not been fed chemical fertilizer for at least 20 years.

The soil is worked by hand – sometimes the tiller is helped along with a helping tow from a quad bike with light low pressure tyres if they going gets tough. Philippe says that hand tilling is precise and only an experienced worker can achieve this efficiently. Grass grows between the rows of vines and Philippe believes that competition with the grass is really beneficial as it limits the vine’s vigour, protects from erosion and limits soil compaction. As he does not use weedkillers he found an original solution – a tool created in Italy for ecological weed control which he had specially adapted to suit the vineyard. chateau rioublanc 11

Philippe’s background is not only in oenology (the study of wine making) but engineering and he knew from an early age that his destiny was to make wine at Rioublanc. The development of the chateau has always involved long term vision and Philippe says that ‘it takes time, lots of time and you are always thinking of the future. When you plant a vine, you are investing in it for 50 years. Most of what we do, we do for our children. It is a gift and it’s a duty . . . that’s life!’

rioublanc organicRioublanc takes its name from the little streams that crisscross the plateau (‘riou’ is the Occitan word for stream and ‘blanc’ refers to the white limestone soil). The estate dates back to the 19th century and was once the home of Yves Renouil, a well known oenologist and author of the ‘Dictionary of Wine’. euroleaf-logo

The Carretero family purchased the chateau in in 1963 and began a long term plan to improve the vineyard with the utmost respect for the environment and quality of the wine. Philippe Carretero represents the latest generation to handle the reins at this small estate. His principles are the same as his forebears: that with every vine you plant you are always thinking of the future and that the living vineyard is a gift that bears a duty of responsibility.

Rioublanc 1The family’s dedication has paid off and Chateau Rioublanc is an impressive wine. Their 2010 Organic Claret gained a Gold Medal in the Mundus Vini International Wine Awards and their Organic White is proving to be a best seller.

Both these lovely wines are available at Bordeaux-Undiscovered and you’ll find that we are the only stockist in the UK, so why not discover them for yourself and taste the difference?

Rioublanc red gold medal winner SMALLChateau Rioublanc Organic Claret 2010, Gold Medal Winner – £9.99

 Beautifully balanced with great structure and a fine nose of luscious black fruits. Deep flavours of blueberry, ripe blackberry and dark plum with notes of vanilla, pepper and oak. Soft, elegant tannins awith a nice lasting finish. Decant 2 hours before serving.

 

 

 

 

 rioublanc white SMALLChateau Rioublanc Organic Bordeaux Blanc 2013 – £9.99

 Delicate, elegant and very aromatic with an intense and fine nose of acacia blossom. Lovely flavours of pear, white peach and lime with subtle hints of honeysuckle and amyl notes of banana.

Enjoy!

Posted in Discover The Chateaux | 2 Comments

Discovering Pinot Noir Beyond Burgundy

petit toque 11Burgundy may be the home of great Pinot Noir but if you know where to look you can pick up some amazing discoveries that don’t command a hefty price tag. In France, Pinot Noir is also found in the Haute Vallée de L’Aude, where it produces wines of great quality.

Le Petit Toque smallThe Haute Vallée de L’Aude follows the path of the river Aude through Cathar country in the far south west of France. Here the mountains reach up to 2000ft above sea level as they rise to form the Pyrenees. At this altitude Burgundy’s signature red grape, Pinot Noir, has found a second home. This is a grape that likes cool climates and light soils. Flourishing amidst this elevated terroir; warmed by the Mediterranean sun, tempered by the coolness of the mountains and swept by winds bearing down from the Atlantic Ocean, the Pinot Noir grown here produces pure and elegant wines.

A lovely example is Le Petit Toque. Made by the pioneering local cooperative, Le Petit Toque (the Little Crack) is named in honour of the region’s charity auction, Toques et Clochers (Cracks and Steeples). The auction raises money to repair the 42 bell towers belonging to the of the appellation. The aim is to preserve local historical heritage and architecture. Every year a village is selected to host the festival which attracts almost 30,000 people to the village streets and celebrates the renovation of its church. It is also a major event in the wine world – it is the second largest wine auction in France after Burgundy’s Hospices de Beaune and has been organised by the cooperative since 1990.

petit toque 22Le Petit Toque is an elegant, soft and supple Pinot Noir. It’s very well structured, deep and fragrant with fine, layered flavours of blackcurrant, ripe black cherry and raspberry; highlighted by notes of liquorice, violets, woody brambles and subtle barnyard earthiness.

A superb food wine, Le Petit Toque is 12% abv and pairs beautifully with duck, beef, lamb, pork, bacon, pigeon, venison, guinea fowl and poultry. You can serve it slightly chilled as is the custom in the north of France. It also marries well with grilled salmon, tuna and mackerel, dishes with rich sauces, mushrooms and hard cheese.

About Pinot Noirpinot

Pinot Noir is the noble grape that makes the great wines of Burgundy and evokes passion in those who fall in love with it. It’s also one of the most studied grapes in the world. In 2007 it became the first fruit crop to have its genome (genetic map) sequenced, showing the handiwork of master wine growers going back to the Stone Age. Pinot Noir’s origins are so ancient it’s believed that it’s only one generation away from the wild grape and it’s possible that it originated in Gaul where wild vines could have been domesticated.

toqueSome point to the Roman writer Columella who described a grape in Burgundy in the 1st century growing in Burgundy so similar that they believe it must be Pinot Noir itself. Potentially Pinot Noir could be the oldest cultivated grape. It’s certainly the patriarch of the Pinot family and is the ancestor of many traditional French grape varieties thanks to its ‘marriage’ with the ancient grape Gouais Blanc (some of these include Chardonnay, the Beaujolais grape Gamay, Aligoté and the Muscadet grape Melon de Bourgogne).

toques 2By 1375 Pinot Noir had acquired it’s name, which is taken from the French for ‘pine’ and ‘black,’ as the grapes grow in tight clusters on the vine resembling pine cones. It was jealously protected in Burgundy in 1395 by the Duke, Philippe the Bold, who insisted that the production of Gamay be outlawed so as to favour the better wines made by Pinot Noir. The grape needed protecting; it can be difficult to grow as it is very thin skinned and the tightly packed grapes make it susceptible to rot. However the wines it produces are well worth it – they have notoriously been described as ‘sex in a glass’.

Upper ValleyAbout Haute Vallée de L’Aude Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is very sensitive to its environment and can reflect subtle differences in terroir. Planted somewhere too hot the grape will ripen too fast losing all the haunting nuances of flavour it is famous for. Despite the fact that it’s a tricky grape to nurture in the vineyard it instills an almost obsessive quest for perfection in those who cultivate it. The winemakers of the Haute Vallée de L’Aude are no exception.

toques 3Home to the headwaters of the river the Haute Vallée de L’Aude is criss-crossed by narrow and deep gorges that feed streams down the mountain sides. The area is famous for its unspoilt beauty and wild flowers, especially its orchids (it has over 80 different species). Pinot Noir thrives here as at this altitude it’s cool and airy – the Aude is one of the windiest regions in France.

petitAlthough snow falls here in the winter and the rainfall can be high, the proximity to the warm Mediterranean means that the Pinot Noir grapes ripen fully but slowly. Harvest takes place here a full month later than that on the plain below. Wines made on this terroir are fresh and vibrant. They may be hard to find but once discovered they are a true revelation as to what Haute Vallée de L’Aude is capable of.

Le Petit Toque Pinot Noir 2013 is available from Bordeaux-Undiscovered

 

 

Posted in Discover The Chateaux, Explore Wine Regions, Know Your Grapes | 4 Comments

Discover French Malbec, The Black Wine of Cahors

cahorsI am constantly amazed at the number of customers who attend the wine and food festivals that I take the Bordeaux-Undiscovered wines to. It is so pleasing to see you all and one question I have constantly been asked is, ‘do I have a good Malbec?’ Spurred on by the thought of a hunt I started searching for one. In recent years most people have fallen in love with Malbec via Argentinian wines. Malbec was introduced in the 19th century and its true home is actually in France . . . it originated around Quercy in Cahors. So, armed with this knowledge I set off to discover a good French Malbec that truly represented this grapes’ heritage and history.

cahorsFinally I came across Gouleyant Malbec made by French Malbec specialist Georges Vigouroux. The Vigouroux family helped revitalize the Cahors appellation in the early 1970s and were pioneers in saving the precious Cahors Malbec from devasatation in the late 19th century. These wines were once considered to be some of the finest in the world and were dubbed ‘the black wines of Cahors’ by the English in the Middle Ages. There are records of Cahors wines being sold in London in the 13th century and nowadays the only problem with these wines is their rarity.

Gouleyant Malbec Cahors SMALLGouleyant comes from the historic vineyards belonging to the medieval Chateau de Haute Serre in the heart of the Cahors. In the 1880s the wines from this estate sat on the same tables as those of the greatest chateaux in Bordeaux and Burgundy. The Vigouroux family saved these historic vineyards and restored the estate to its former glories. The vintages they produce are multi award winning and we are thrilled to have discovered this treasure trove of astonishing wines.

The inky black wines of Cahors are more structured and fuller bodied than their Argentinean Malbec counterparts and Gouleyant is no exception. It is a deliciously deep and dark wine with supple and expressive with soft, elegant tannins. Gouleyant has flavours of blackcurrant, elderberry, plump raisin and black cherry with smoky notes of violets, cocoa and liquorice.grapes malbec

Having such good tannic structure Gouleyant is ideal with steaks, roast duck, goose, beef and lamb. It also pairs wonderfully with slow cooked or braised meats, hearty casseroles, smoky Hungarian goulash, tagines, rich beef curries, osso buco and aged hard cheeses.

Beautifully balanced with great structure, I believe Gouleyant Malbec is a winner. I am convinced you will think so too. It’s exceptional quality and value speak for themselves.

cahors mapAbout French Malbec
Malbec’s parents are Prunelard and Mageleine Noire des Charentes. Prunelard is an almost extinct Gaillac variety which thankfully has been revived by wine makers committed to using Gaillac’s long lost varietals. Magdeleine Noire des Charentes is very rare indeed and is the mother of both Malbec and Merlot. The story goes that it was discovered in 1992 growing in a vineyard in Brittany that was abandoned more than 200 years ago.

Chateau de Haute Serre

Chateau de Haute Serre

At one point Malbec was grown in 30 different departments of France, a legacy that is still present in the abundance of local synonyms for the variety. It is known as Malbec in Bordeaux, Pressac in Libourne, Auxerrois in Quercy, Bouchal in the South West and Cot in Cahors. Local lore has it that it became known as Malbec as a Hungarian peasant by the name of Malbeck took the grape to the Medoc in Bordeaux in the early 18th century and it acquired his name.

vigourouxMalbec is still grown in Bordeaux in small quantities; the First growth Chateau Cheval Blanc uses a tiny amount of Malbec in its blend as do Chateaux L’Enclos and Gruaud Larose. However if you travel back in time to 1855 when the chateaux were being classified all the Grand Crus – they all had Malbec in their vineyards. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, documents show that Malbec was probably the most planted grape in Bordeaux when it is thought that approximately 60% of Bordeaux’s vineyards were planted with Malbec vines. Hugh Johnson mentions in his book, The Story of Wine, that First Growth Château Lafite’s vineyards were dominated by Malbec and that another First Growth, Château Latour, was mostly Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chateau de Haute Serre

Chateau de Haute Serre

The reasons Malbec flourished in Cahors and declined in Bordeaux are simple: it was due to disease and weather disasters. The phylloxera epidemic in the late 19th century destroyed most of the vineyards in Europe. Phylloxera is a sort of aphid and was introduced from the USA by accident as botantists unknowingly brought home infected vines from America to Europe. A cure was found by grafting the vines on to resistant rootstock but many wine makers planted different grape varieties that were either more easy and quick to grow than their traditional vines or more readily available. In 1956 severe frost devastated many vines (this was an appalling year for freezing temperatures and snowfall across the globe) and most of the Malbec in Bordeaux was wiped out. The deep freeze hit Cahors too, but unlike Bordeaux, wine makers here saved their Malbec by replanting the crop. Malbec is a thin-skinned grape and was easier to grow in its home of Cahors as it is more suited to its climate than that of Bordeaux.

Bertrand Vigouroux

Bertrand Vigouroux

About Cahors Malbec
Cahors is the ancestral home of Malbec and it was from Cahors that Argentina gained its first Malbec vines in 1852. Cahors is a beautiful medieval city almost entirely surrounded by water. The town was established by the Romans on a wide meander of the River Lot near a spring revered by the Gauls. It lies in the old province of Quercy which is divided between the departements of the Lot and Tarn et Garonne today and is about 100 miles east of Bordeaux. The Cahors vineyards were amongst the first planted in France by the Roman Emperors, more than two thousand years ago.

In the 14th century Pope John XXII, a Cahors man born and bred, did much to promote the black wines from the region and they were exported across Europe. Wines from this area accounted for 50% of all exports from the port of Bordeaux in 1310. Cahors and Bordeaux actually became rivals and the black wines of Cahors were often added to those of Bordeaux to enhance their vintages. The Bordelaise imposed restrictions on the entry of wines from outside Bordeaux to their port which meant that no Cahors wine could enter the port before Christmas. However that didn’t stop the reputation of the black wines spreading. By the 1600s the wines were well known at the Russian Court . . . the Russian Tsar, Peter the Great, insisted that the tannic structure of Cahors wines cured his ulcer! There is even a grape named after Cahors in the Crimea.cahors vines

The medieval vineyards of Cahors stretch over limestone terraces along the valley of the Lot and over the great limestone plateau of the Causse. The climate is oceanic but is influenced by the Mediterranean. Cahors has lower rainfall than Bordeaux. In autumn, the southerly wind blows hot, dry air from the south that helps to ripen the grapes.

Gouleyant Malbec, Cahors 2012 is available from Bordeaux-Undiscovered at £9.99 a bottle.

Enjoy!

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