Discovering Chateau Ballan Larquette

Chateau Ballan Larquette is the new label for our most popular Clairet: Domaine de Ricaud Bordeaux Clairet. The award winning estates (Domaine de RicaudChateaux Ballan Larquette and Peynaud) are owned by the Chaigne family who have been wine makers for several generations. Their wines are award winning and this Clairet was awarded a Silver Medal by the Concours des Vins des Vignerons Independants.

The estates lie in the tiny villages of Cantois and St Laurent du Bois in the Entre Deux Mers (between Saint Emilion and Sauternes). Cantois takes its name from the Latin “Cantus” – meaning Song Bird and St Laurent du Bois is named for St Lawrence, one of the Patron Saints of Vine Growers and Wine Making!

The area is dotted with ancient churches, Knight’s Templar commanderies and the villages lie near the Abbey of Saint-Gerald de la Sauve Majeure whose Benedictine monks made wine for centuries alongside those of Sainte Croix du Mont.

The great Landes Forest lies to the south west and Cantois was once a privileged territory for hunting, especially that of pigeons – which may account for the origin of it’s name.

The Landes Forest is the largest Maritime Pine forest in Europe and the French word, landes means ‘moors’ or ‘heaths’.

Most of the region now occupied by the Landes forest was swampy land that was sparsely inhabited until 1857 when the planting of pines was encouraged to halt erosion and cleanse the soil. Centuries ago the people of the Landes used stilt-walking to move from place to place in the wet terrain!

Chateau Ballan Larquette’s vineyards are small and there are only 6 employees who are passionately dedicated to the wonderful wines that they make.

The Chaigne’s follow the policy that you need healthy and ripe grapes to make good wines and all vine growing work, from pruning to harvest is done meticulously and with great passion and attention.

The soil is argilo limestone and the vineyard covers 35 hectares – the rest of the estate farms cattle and and cereal crops. The vines are on average 18 years old and they are cultivated with great care to make aromatic and deeply coloured wines.

Ballan Larquette Clairet is made by partial saignee – the wine sits on the crushed grapes for 3 – 4 days to reach the depth of colour and fruit that Clairet is so well known for.

Clairet is not a rosé. It is a very different creature indeed and has its own AOC: Bordeaux Clairet to regulate its production. Bordeaux Clairet is darker than Bordeaux Rosé and has less tannins, more fruit, power and structure.

It’s maceration (time spent on the grapes) can be up to 2 days and beyond – compared to the 4 or 5 hours that a Rosé spends.

Ballan Larquette Clairet is made from a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc and is lusciously intense.

It’s mouth watering and really is a beautiful presentation of a Clairet produced in Bordeaux. The wine is a dark cherry colour with an opalescent sheen and has the flavours of crushed strawberry, mango, pineapple, pomegranate and redcurrant with rounded smooth tannins that just slip down your throat.

Ballan Larquette is perfect as an aperitif and is great with food – it will accompany seafood, grilled meats and fish, salads, Asian cuisine and prime rib of beef. I would recommend it as a superb BBQ wine and it will be delicious with this recipe.

Warm Beef and Beetroot Salad

1 joint of beef
3 beetroots
1 cup of walnuts
1 bag of rocket
4 tbsp walnut oil
2 tsp sherry vinegar
¼ tsp soft brown sugar
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
½ tsp Dijon mustard

Boil the beetroots until cooked through and peel the skin off, then chop into cubes. Roast the beef and cut into bite size strips. Make the dressing by combining the vinegar, oil, sugar, garlic and mustard in a jar with a tight lid, and shaking vigorously.

Toss the salad leaves and beetroot with the dressing in a large bowl, then arrange on plates. Scatter over the walnuts and beef strips. Drizzle the dressing over the dish. Serve immediately, while the salad ingredients are still warm.

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