Old Style Claret Returns to Bordeaux

Have you ever wanted to drink an Old Style Claret?  A Claret that harks back to the Victorian era of Gentlemen’s Clubs, cigars and fine wine?  If you travel back in time to 1855, when the chateaux were being ranked into Grand Cru Classé, the Claret the British loved so well had a little Syrah from Hermitage, in the northern Rhône, in the blend.

Bordeaux has started to create limited amounts of these wines again – they are unusual and difficult to find but the great Third Growth Chateau Palmer has revived this 19th century practice.

Chateau Palmer created an experimental cuvée (only 100 cases), called Historical XIX Century Wine. It’s a blend of 85% estate fruit from Palmer and 15% Syrah from Hermitage and was sold privately to clients and high class restaurants.

Apparently the wine is fuller and richer when compared to the usual Margaux style and shows more of the Syrah character. Of the few cases made, the chateau is holding back some for a minimum ten years to see if the wine changes back to show more of the Margaux character. Priced the same as Chateau Palmer ex-cellars, this isn’t your typical vin de table.

Michel Chapoutier has also made a Pomerol Hermitage with oenologist Michael Rolland. The wine was produced for charity and was made 50% Merlot from Château Le Bon Pasteu, Rolland’s property in Pomerol and 50% Syrah from Chapoutier’s l’Ermite. The wine was named, aptly, .

Rolland and Chapoutier intend to create an M² every time the vintage deserves it.  The wine was sold at auction in aid of Chapoutier’s charitable foundation, M. Chapoutier Vins et Santé, set up in 1994 to help children with leukemia.

Alain Reynaud, owner of Chateau Le Croix de Gay i Pomerol and consultant for over 10 properties in the region has expressed a desire to grow Syrah: “As long as I have clay soils, I will plant Merlot. But temperatures do seem to be rising, and if I had more gravel, I would love the right to plant Syrah in Bordeaux.”

First Growth Chateau Lafite Rothschild’s brand new vineyard in China is also growing Syrah and the Syndicat des Vins de Bordeaux (Bordeaux Wines Union) is now trialling the growing of Syrah in Bordeaux with a view to the future . . . or should I say the past?

Jean Baptiste Audy own several chateaux in Pomerol and Saint Emilion and have created an Old Style Claret named simply  Cuvée.  The blend is 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah and the abv of 12.5% also represents a return to the lower alcohol levels of Bordeaux in the past.

This is a captivating wine, easy to drink and is full of character.  Cuvée is a dark garnet colour with intense aromas.  In the mouth the wine has a good backbone with smooth tannins and good fruit.With notes of blackberry jam, ripe dark plums and black pepper with a hint of smoke Cuvée also goes well with food especially feathered game, venison, beef, lamb, richly flavoured casseroles and Italian tomato based dishes.

We have managed to acquire some of  this Old Style Claret – Cuvee de Jean Baptiste Audy – and have slashed its price to £5.18 so that Claret lovers can order supplies in readiness for Christmas. This wine is exclusive to Bordeaux-Undiscovered and you won’t find it anywhere else in the UK.  We hope you enjoy it!

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