Bordeaux Wine

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Bordeaux Wine

Château d'Abzac's 100% Merlot has become our go-to 'house' claret since we first discovered it in 2011. Made by incumbents Baron Jean-Louis and wife Baroness Chantal d'Anglade, some 10km north-west of Pomerol, it sits on the same seam of free-draining, gravelly soil as more established 'grand vins'. With vibrant berry fruit aromas, classic cassis and pepper undertones, it's excellent value at a modest price.

Its sibling Château Milonblanc - from the appellation of Lussac-Saint-Emilion, to the north-east of Saint-Emilion proper - is a definite step-up with a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon supported by Merlot giving more body and depth of flavour. With cedar, plum and blackcurrant on the nose and fine-grained tannins, it has just the right intensity and concentration to be approachable now (worth decanting), with the stuffing to age well for a further 5 to 7+ years. Traditionally, roast beef would match both, but a roast monkfish tail has enough oomph to be apposite.

Finding decent vintages of 'affordable' Pomerol is a thankless task yet organic-certified Château Gombaude-Guillot fits the bill admirably. Sitting alongside the vines of such hallowed names as Trotanoy, Bourgneuf and Clinet, it follows the Right-Bank tradition of around 30% Cabernet Franc balancing the exuberance of Merlot's berry fruit. Aged in around 50% new oak, the 'bois' doesn't dominate the lush, rich darkly-fruited core with hints of floral blueberry and pencil shavings. One for the long-term - drink 5 to 15+ years after vintage. Venison or lamb fillets in a redcurrant sauce would be as close to perfection as possible partners.

Above the D936 east of Saint-Emilion, the Todeschini family make their marvellous Château La Brande under the Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux appellation. Brothers Yann and Karl Todeschini's clay-limestone soils are ideal for producing elegant, long-lived wines and their 'La Brande' blend features a base of Merlot, with around a quarter Cabernet Franc, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon and a dash of Petit Verdot. Left-Bank in style, it has a core of autumnal berries and baking spice flavours with just enough tannin to mature gracefully. Cellar for 5 to 10+ years though in good years, it will keep much longer.

New to this list in 2023 is Grand Cru Saint-Emilion from Château Alverne. Owned by oenologist Lionel Wojcik (Corsica's Domaine Paradella), the 'Grand Cru' is a classic Right-Bank blend from a majority of Merlot finessed with around 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Matured in the same 'Radoux' oak barrels used in Corsica (as advised by the nearby Mitjavile family of Tertre-Roteboeuf), the wine has terrifically opulent forest fruits with just the right amount of oak, cocoa and a touch of truffle. Drink up to 15 years after vintage.

A last minute addition to the 1855 Classification of Crus in the Médoc, Fifth Growth Château Cantemerle now falls into the Haut-Médoc appellation. With a Cabernet Sauvignon base, around a quarter Merlot and the remaining tenth split between Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, it remains accessibly-priced (compared to some) Left-Bank clarets. Chocolatey oak and cassis aromas dominate, with supple tannins supporting spice and cedar flavours. Benefitting from an hour or two in decanter, in the best vintages it has the guts to age with elegance. A prime rib roast would be most apposite.

A welcome addition to our stocks is a parcel of mature claret from the incredible 2016 vintage. The reliable Fifth Growth estate of Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste is rare in Pauillac to have all its vines in one location on the gravel soils surrounding the Château. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with one fifth Merlot, this classic Left-Bank red would benefit from decanting and will age gracefully over the next couple of decades.

Concluding our claret pages is the excellent 'L'Esprit de Chevalier' from the free-draining sand and gravel soils of Pessac-Léognan. One of the Domaine de Chevalier's stable, it comprises some two-thirds Cabernet Sauvignon, around one-third Merlot and a dash each of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. It drinks well from the off (though will cellar for a decade), its blackcurrant and blackberry fruit improving with air, alongside spice and supple tannins.

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  1. Lussac-Saint-Émilion: Château Milonblanc 2020
    Bottle
    £20.45
    Bottle (Case)
    £245.40
  2. Rheinhessen: Jürgen Hofmann Weisser Burgunder Trocken 2022
    Bottle
    £17.75
    Bottle (Case)
    £213.00
  3. Rheinhessen: Jürgen Hofmann Grauer Burgunder Trocken 2022
    Bottle
    £17.75
    Bottle (Case)
    £213.00
  4. Germany: Kolonne Null Riesling 2022
    Bottle
    £11.95
    Bottle (Case)
    £143.40
  5. Rheinhessen: Jürgen Hofmann Ingelheimer Spätburgunder 2020
    Bottle
    £24.95
    Bottle (Case)
    £299.40
  6. Bordeaux Supérieur: Château d'Abzac 2021
    Bottle
    £16.00
    Bottle (Case)
    £192.00
  7. Baden: Klumpp 'Cuvée No. 1' 2020
    Bottle
    £19.95
    Bottle (Case)
    £239.40
  8. Pomerol: Château Gombaude-Guillot 2016
    Magnum
    £136.00
    Magnum (Case)
    £816.00
  9. Rheinhessen: Jürgen Hofmann Reserve Chardonnay 2021
    Bottle
    £33.50
    Bottle (Case)
    £402.00
  10. Baden: Klumpp Bruchsaler Weiherberg Pinot Noir 2020
    Bottle
    £37.95
    Bottle (Case)
    £455.40
  11. Pfalz: Stefan Meyer 'Aus Rhodt' Chardonnay 2021
    Bottle
    £21.75
    Bottle (Case)
    £261.00
  12. Saar: Willems-Willems 'Schiefer' Oberemmel Riesling 2021
    Bottle
    £20.25
    Bottle (Case)
    £243.00
  13. Baden: Klumpp Auxerrois 2022
    Bottle
    £19.95
    Bottle (Case)
    £239.40
  14. AOC Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux: Château La Brande 2018
    Bottle
    £19.25
    Bottle (Case)
    £231.00
    Magnum
    £40.95
    Magnum (Case)
    £245.70
  15. Mosel: Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt 'Schloss Marienlay' Riesling Trocken 2018
    Magnum
    £50.50
    Magnum (Case)
    £303.00
  16. Pauillac: Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 2016
    Bottle
    £98.50
    Bottle (Case)
    £1,182.00
  17. Bordeaux: AOC Pessac-Léognan Domaine de Chevalier 'L'Esprit de Chevalier' 2016
    Bottle
    £40.00
    Bottle (Case)
    £480.00
  18. Lussac-Saint-Émilion: Château Milonblanc 2019
    Half Bottle
    £13.20
    Half Bottle (Case)
    £316.80
  19. Saint-Émilion Grand Cru: Château Alverne 2018
    Bottle
    £50.45
    Bottle (Case)
    £605.40
  20. Mosel: Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Josephshöfer GG Riesling 2018
    Bottle
    £39.50
    Bottle (Case)
    £474.00
    Magnum
    £86.00
    Magnum (Case)
    £516.00
  21. Bordeaux Supérieur: Château d'Abzac 2020
    Half Bottle
    £10.20
    Half Bottle (Case)
    £244.80
  22. Mosel: Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Alte Reben Trocken Riesling 2020
    Bottle
    £22.40
    Bottle (Case)
    £268.80
  23. Pomerol: Château Gombaude-Guillot 2014
    Bottle
    £55.50
    Bottle (Case)
    £666.00
  24. Haut-Médoc: Château Cantemerle 2012
    Bottle
    £40.45
    Bottle (Case)
    £485.40
  25. Pfalz: Stefan Meyer 'Rhodter Klosterpfad' Syrah 2017
    Bottle
    £35.50
    Bottle (Case)
    £426.00
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Quick & Easy Guide to the wines of Bordeaux

Walk tall among wine royalty along the quays of Bordeaux.

Overview:
No city in the world has a stronger association with wine than Bordeaux. Essentially divided into the 'left bank' of the Gironde estuary (west of the city and dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon) and 'right bank' (east and Merlot), the region benefits from a mild maritime climate. The famous 1855 classification (requested by Emperor Napoleon III for the Paris exhibition) created the five-tier Cru classé system which represents 61 châteaux of the left bank Médoc, below which are the Crus Bourgeois. The right bank commune of St-Émilion has its own classification system. One should not overlook the wonderful sweet wines of Sauternes & Graves or great value 'satellite' appellations such as Lalande-de-Pomerol or Montagne-St-Émilion.

Area Under Vine:
With over 10,000 chateaux managing 120,000 hectares under vine, this is the largest AOC region in the world. Over 50% is classified Bordeaux or Bordeaux Supérieur.

Key AOCs:
Pauillac, St-Estèphe, St-Julien, Margaux, Pomerol, St-Émilion, Pessac-Leognan, Sauternes, Graves.

Principal grapes:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec. For the whites – Sauvignon, Semillon, Muscadelle, Ugni blanc and Colombard.

Notable domaines:
Lafite, Latour, Mouton-Rothschild, Haut-Brion, Pavie, Cos d'Estournel, Cheval Blanc, Pètrus, Le Pin, Yquem.

Local delicacies:
Lamproie à la Bordelaise (eel cooked in red wine), local oysters from Arcachon Bay, canelé (dark caramel cakes).

Restaurants we like:
La Tupina (Bordeaux), Fernand (Bordeaux), L'Escale (Lamarque), Le Parasol (Royan).

Famous people from the region:
Francois Mauriac (writer). That's it.

Things to do:
Climb Europe's highest sand dune (Cap Ferret), stroll through the pretty vineyards on the plateau of Pomerol or the hills of St-Émilion, hone your tasting skills at the Maison du Vin, promenade along the world heritage-designated quayside, visit Bernard Magrez's contemporary art exhibition housed in the 18th century mansion Hôtel Labottière, take a river cruise on the Gironde.

Bien classique:
Bordeaux Supérieur: Chateau d'Abzac

Autre chose:
Haut-Medoc: Chateau Sociando-Mallet