Drinking Tuesday Night Bordeaux #Winophiles

Bordeaux has beautiful estates and legendary wines, but the top wines are out of reach of the everyday enthusiast

100 Problems with Bordeaux

  • Bordeaux is stuffy
  • Bordeaux is expensive
  • Bordeaux needs to be aged for 20 years before you drink it
  • I love Bordeaux, but it’s really only for very special occasions
  • Bordeaux is what grandfathers drink, no one under 50 will touch the stuff

These are the opinions in a typical American wine shop today, and you’ll have a hard time finding much Bordeaux in many a shop. There is a kernel of truth in some of these statements. Wines are labeled after the commune, not the grape. Wines which are traditional in approach with a line drawing of a chateau on the label can seem stuffy. Top Bordeaux wines can be mind-numbingly expensive and they will benefit from long aging. However, they are less than 10% of the wines produced in the region. There aren’t that many millionaires who can afford $500 a bottle!

Côtes de Bordeaux map

The appellations of Côtes de Bordeaux sit on the Right Bank, just across the river from the storied Left Bank and just next to the top Right Bank regions. You’ll find lots of delicious bargains when you know these names (map courtesy of Teuwen Communications)

Côtes de Bordeaux to the Rescue
Wineries in the larger region of Bordeaux have wised up and have started to cooperate to take advantage of strength in numbers. Five communities in the affordable area of the Right Bank (generally Merlot-centric) have banded together under a new appellation name to increase their recognition. What originally were named Côtes de Blaye, Côtes de Castillon, Côtes de Franc, Sainte-Foy and Premiere Côtes de Bordeaux will now all be included under the umbrella of Côtes de Bordeaux. You may still see their individual village, but know that they are all working together to increase their identity. I think their nickname is perfect: “Bordeaux in Blue Jeans.” In my previous visit to Bordeaux I did not make it to this region, I hope to correct that on my next trip!

These wines are all made to be enjoyed today, no need to cellar them for 20+ years. They are priced to be affordable for us regular people, and there are even wines which will appeal to a wine drinker more accustomed to California than Saint-Emilion. The wineries in this area tend to be family owned. They share similar soil to the more famous Right Bank regions, a mix of clay & limestone. The dominant grape is Merlot, but as in all of Bordeaux, the wines are blends of the typical Bordeaux grapes: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France, Petit Verdot and Malbec. I noticed more use of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Côtes de Bordeaux compared with Saint Emilion and Pomerol.  Perhaps the climate is just enough warmer to allow Cabernet Sauvignon a better chance of ripening? Whites are less well known, but equally delicious. The white wines are blends as well, highlighting Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Côtes de Bordeaux accounts for approximately 10% of all of Bordeaux’s production.

French Winophiles Group Explores Bordeaux for Everyday Enjoyment
Thanks to our friends at Teuwen Communications, our French #Winophiles group is sampling affordable wines from Bordeaux this month. Cruise down further in this post to see a whole group of great ideas for your weeknight Bordeaux pleasure! (click on any photo for a full size slide show, hit escape to return)

The Wines
Wines for this post were provided as samples by Teuwen Communications.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Chateau Peybonhomme-les-Tours “Le Blanc Bonhomme” (sample, $20 SRP)

Tech notes from the winery:
Producer fifth generation brother and sister Guillaume and Rachel Hubert operate Château Peybonhomme-Les-Tours. They farm the estate and make the wines themselves, and represent the largest certified biodynamic estate in Blaye. The blend is 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 50% Semillon and is listed at 13.5% abv

Jeff’s tasting notes:
Eye: Clear, medium lemon yellow a touch on the warm side (color)
Nose: Clean, stony. Impression of rain on pavement, a bit of butter (only noticed because we tasted this vs. Sancerre).
Mouth: Dry, medium intensity flavor, medium+ acid, but well buffered. Medium body medium alcohol, flavors still remind one of wet stones, white flowers, lemon rind in the background. Nice medium+ length finish.

Avocado shrimp bowls were a great choice for our Bordeaux Blanc

Paired beautifully with our avocado shrimp lettuce bowl. Creamy seafood was refreshed by a taste of the brightly acidic wine.

Château Paret Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux AOC 2015(sample, $11 SRP)
Tech notes from the winery:
“Situated at Saint Genès de Castillon facing the Puisseguin appellation, Château Paret has been family-owned since 1887. In 1988 that Philippe Fauchéy took charge of the vineyard. Geographically well placed bordering the vineyards of Saint-Emilion, the vines have the advantage of being planted in three distinct terroirs that give the wine its
special character. The tech note lists the wine as 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc with 14% abv

Jeff’s tasting notes:
Eye: Clear, ruby color with a cool rim. No staining, legs slow to form
Nose: Clean, medium- intensity. Nice clean fresh blue fruit, blueberries (fresh, not even frozen). More fruit than earth. A bit of violet flowers, a touch of clean leather.
Mouth: Dry, medium intensity, medium acidity, medium tannins. Nice clean tannins arrive in the mid-palate. Medium body, nice medium finish. Flavors include the nice fresh blue fruits, leather in the background, mature tannins in a nice medium finish. I get a sense of graphite/steel in both the nose and mouth. I read this as evidence of Cabernet Sauvignon. Excellent with the food.

Modern and traditional Côtes de Bordeaux wines with porcini rubbed tenderloin

Modern and traditional Côtes de Bordeaux wines with porcini rubbed tenderloin

We enjoyed the Chateau Paret and the Chateau Biac with a nice grilled tenderloin.  Two wines, both were in an everyday budget range. There was only one problem: Julie preferred the Cuvée Felix, Jeff preferred the Chateau Paret!

Château Biac Les Vignobles du Biac “Felix de Biac” Cadillac Cotes de Bordeaux AOC 2014 (sample, $25 SRP)
Tech notes from the winery:
“A 17th-century estate, Château Biac is owned since 2006 by a Lebanese family The Asseilys. The 24-acre domaine is referred to as “Burgundy in Bordeaux,” a cluster of small vineyards each with its own, well-defined soil type and matching grape variety, root stock or clone.” The wine is aged 16 months in barrel and is described as a seductive “fruit wine” rather than “tannic and imposing”. Blend: 58% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc Alcohol: 13.5%

Jeff’s tasting notes
Eye: Clear, medium ruby with a surprisingly warm edge. no staining
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Candied blue and black fruit with clear cedar box, a touch of vanilla and cooking spices.
Mouth: Dry, medium intensity. Candied blueberries, muted vanilla and cedar box notes. Medium acidity, medium tannins, medium body with a medium finish.  Nice wine, a bit more international in style with nice fruit, a bit of oak influence with polish.

Chateau Couronneau – soon to be classified as Sainte-Foy Côtes de Bordeaux

Chateau Couronneau Bordeaux Superieur AOC 2015 (officially becomes Sainte Foy in 2016) (sample, $19 SRP)
Tech notes from the winery:
“Producer Christophe and Bénédicte Piat purchased the 98-acre estate in 1994. The soil is predominantly chalky clay. After intensive studies in the vineyards, castle and cellar, in 1999 they converted all vineyards into organic farming and in 2012 biodynamic farming was instituted. The wine is fermented and maceration in stainless steel vats. Aged in a mix of 125 L, 90 hl and Terra cotta vats for 10 months. Blend: 60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon 14.5% abv.

Jeff’s tasting notes
Eye: clear, deep ruby with a narrow cool edge. plenty of legs, staining only in the legs.
Nose: clean, deep blue/black fruit. Ripe blueberries, blackberries, a touch of earth, leather. A bit of heat in the nose.
Mouth: Dry, medium acidity, medium+ tannins. Great structure. More earth than fruit, but nice and clean. Dark blue fruit, blueberries & a touch of leather. Tastes like it was aged in oak or concrete, but no overt oak (very nice). Expected a simple wine, this was a nice, traditional Bordeaux red with excellent restraint. Organic and biodynamic certified, delicious and all this for $19 a bottle!

Chateau Couronneau Cotes-de-Bordeaux with grilled lamb chop

Grill your favorite foods and open a bottle of Chateau Couronneau on a weekday evening!

The French Winophiles Sample Cotes de Bordeaux

Please join the Winophiles chat on the Côtes de Bordeaux Saturday, May 19 at 10am CDT on Twitter. Look for the hashtags #winophiles and #cotesdebdxspring.  We will discuss wine, food pairings, culture, and the region. All are welcome and encouraged to participate in the chat

Côtes de Bordeaux for your Tuesday evening dinner at www.foodwineclick.com





18 Responses to “Drinking Tuesday Night Bordeaux #Winophiles”
  1. Really enjoyed the post! More of a burgundy gal, but on a Friday night, wine is wine!

  2. Jill Barth says:

    Nice post Jeff! I didn’t get a Bordeaux blanc in my group – would have loved to have one. Plus, I read the sweet Côtes de Bordeaux are nice too. On my summer list.

    I love these myths – totally debunked! And it looks like the people of these regions are so fun!

  3. Nice! We saw these as great midweek wines also! PS Love the problems with Bordeaux!

  4. wendyklik says:

    Sounds like an amazing Tuesday….I think I’ll stop by next week LOL

  5. You’re over view and pairings look great Jeff!

  6. Lynn says:

    Always appreciate your informational yet succinct reviews. I’m digging the Bordeaux Blanc with Shrimp boats- easy to make. But the Ch Paret from Castillon and tenderloin might make me go out and buy a grill!

  7. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    Great overview and everything looks absolutely delicious! Yum!

  8. Great overview Jeff. I enjoyed the Peybonhommes too and it sounds delish with avocado shrimp. Great wines for a Tuesday night.

  9. lizbarrett says:

    Fantastic overview and I love your pairings, especially the Côtes de Bordeaux Blanc with the shrimp. We share the same idea of going with grilled meat when you’re opening “mystery wine!” Great post, Jeff.

  10. More great pairings! The porcini rubbed tenderloin sounds amazing!

  11. Such a variety of wines from the region – and you’ve illustrated just how well they fare at the dinner table. Your dishes look like they were simple to prepare, yet elegant in presentation – perfect for Cotes de Bordeaux!

  12. Robin Renken says:

    The Le Blanc Bonhomme sound delicious and I love your lettuce bowl pairing. I would really love to get out an explore this area. Until then at least I can venture into these great bottles.

  13. Jill Barth says:

    Why do I want to say …
    I’ve got 99 problems but Bordeaux ain’t one?

    I’m all for this lineup and we particularly loved the Castillion bottle (ours was 2014 Château Ampélia). I’m bookmarking your meals, just like I always do, for summer gatherings.

    Thanks Jeff!

  14. A great post Jeff! Confession: Bordeaux and I got off to a rocky start. So I’m not a fan. Oh I like them well enough. I just don’t go out of my way to acquire (for some of the reasons you note) I wish I had known about Cotes de Bordeaux then! Great pairing and photos as always!

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