Saturday, 30 January 2016

Bordeaux, from the man who knows

January 29, and the first meeting of the Freeland Wine Club for the 2016 season.

Now Dear reader we have a lot to cover here so I am going to ask you to have a good read of the Blog, not only the review of the very impressive meeting but also what to look forward to in 2016 and the The Wine Club.

The first meeting was all about the wines of Bordeaux.  This is the area of France with a huge output of wines, not just wines but world famous wines of great quality.  It came as a surprise to hear of the historic background to this. For this we need to go way back, to the marriage of Henry the second to Eleanor of Aquitane in 1152.   Its fair to say that drinking water back then was something of a dangerous sport so beer and wine was the chosen drink with maybe some cider.

With the marriage the part of France we know as Bordaeux became part of England and was the obvious place to get your wine from, in many ways things havn't changed, as a nation we still love French wines and the Bordaeux wines especially. The name, Claret has become part of our language, itself a corruption of the Bordaeux wine, Clairet.

We were fortunate in having both a great speaker for the night but also an expert, a well recongnised international expert on the wines of the area, Keith Grainger.  Keith is a consultant wine maker, author, broadcaster and educator.  What he is also is a very accomplished communicator.

Normally on the Blog following our talk at the Club I will write a review of each wine, give its vitals, where you can buy, cost, grape etc. For this talk something different, here we heard of the broad sweep of the history, politics, heritage, the wine types, the main grapes and the soils of the Bordeaux wines.

When people mention the area it is often in hushed tones and the price per case may be discreetly mentioned. And yes they can produce some wines that are eye wateringly expensive but the vast majority are wines are for the majority to drink, people who will spend between £7.00 and £15.00 for a bottle. For such people, and that will mean most of us, that gives some great choices and styles. It was this choice and style of  wine  and wine production we were able to hear of and to taste.  Keith brought with him three whites, and four reds.

Lets talk about the styles and taste of the first two Whites, and here was a perfect of example of the range of styles available. The first wine was a fresh clean Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon (10%) blend. A very good wine, fresh, easy on the pallet and very good with light foods, fish particular.

The other white was so different, a blend of the same grapes but held on oak, and a wine that was not for me but for others the preferred wine of the two. So a good start to the evening, a range of styles very evident and giving the buyer a choice, a real choice of which way to go when choosing. This theme of, variety, came up often in the talk and discussion. Given the 7,300 different chateaux and the 10,000 different wines this won't come as any surprise.

First of the Reds followed, in fact we tasted four reds, all of the same vintage , 2011, all with very similar blends, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carbernet Franc. Surprise surprise, they were all the same but also all different, more tannin here, less oak there, softer on the nose with this wine and more fruit of that one. Confirming Keith's notion that the wines are highly varied in style. 

All the reds were classified under the fairly recent classification, Cru Bourgeois. This is a classification that may awarded each year to the wine of a M├ędoc Chateau . The property will have been inspected and if it is accepted as eligible, it may present its wine each year to a panel for blind tasting. Only wines that pass this test will have the label (of course) and such a wine will be to a defined and high standard.

The final wine of the night was a sublime sweet wine, also the bargain of night. This was a 1998 Sauternes. My goodness, this along with a cream 'blue' cheese was something very special.  It seems the wine is available at that famous wine merchant M&S at the spectacular price of £13.00 for a full sized bottle. 


We all think we can tell the difference between strawberries and pineapple don't we?  Well we don't! 

Between tasting wines we were asked to identify various fruit smells, not easy!  The lemon smell most could choose, also the vanilla but of the others, very few were able to even guess. One stand out winner was Renata and John, and an apron was theirs as winners:

All in all a great evening, well presented, enjoyed and well received. Many thanks to Keith for doing such a great job and also to David for finding an arranging the evening.  

In fact David was a great help in all sorts of ways, here checking the wines.

The Club was able to pass monies to Sue Hall for the Heart Foundation as a result of the raffle. Sue is to host an open house at her daughter's home on Friday of next week, for more detail drop me an email.

DATES for  the diary:

March 18th     Eynsham Wine Cellars Presentation

May 27th      Martin Marais, The label tells all, or does it?

July 22nd      New Zealand wines by a New Zealand wine maker

September 30th    German Wines

November 25th   Social Evening