After years working in restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area, traveling up and down the coast of California, and calling the Temecula Valley home for over 10 years, I have developed quite an affection and palate for California wines. From Napa, to Paso Robles, to Temecula, I know what grows well in each region and I seek out good wines whenever I can. Although never afraid to try something new, I just never bothered with French wines. My perception was that they would be too fussy and expensive, and perhaps overrated, so I felt compelled to give them a go. I am delighted to report that my assumptions were entirely inaccurate!
As a side note, when wine & media guru Linda Kissam invites me to anything, I make it a habit to say “yes” and I have never been disappointed. The Women’s Wine Council is her latest endeavor and I am pleased to be on the panel of women charged with tasting wines from around the globe and offering their impressions. Our first experience featured Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur AOC and, as I mentioned, shattered my notion of French wines are all about. As I am a firm believer that wine is better with food, I happily provided some small bites to pair with our sips and we convened at the DocPros Nationwide Notaries corporate office conference room to share a time of friendship and tasting.
I confess that I thought all Bordeaux were reds, so I was pleased to see that our tasting began with a sparkling white: Favory Cremant de Bordeaux Brut. With an elegant nose and perfectly tiny bubbles, this wine was well received by the entire group and was my favorite of the whites. Well balanced with notes of green apple and a slight nuttiness on the palate, this little gem paired well with apple & gorgonzola cheese wrapped in prosciutto. At just $12 SRP, I would call this a “must buy.” Serve with brunch, light appetizers or bring to a party as an impressive, but inexpensive, hostess gift.
On to the Axel des Vignes – 2009 Bordeaux Blanc. I found this wine to be light and slightly herbal. I would drink it ice cold and with food as it would allow the dish to be the star. As the group sampled the Spicy Shrimp, BL Tomatoes and Rosemary Spiced Nuts, we found that this wine’s ability to “play well with others” (love that Linda-ism) would make it a great choice to serve if you are aiming to please a broad range of palates. $10 SRP
Another surprise of the evening came when we moved on to the Chateau Penin 2009 Bordeaux Rose. This lovely, vibrant rose wine featured lush strawberry fruit flavors and a hint of vanilla without being too sweet. At just $13 SRP, it would pair well with a summer salad, but would best stand all on it’s own as a hot afternoon refreshment or late night hot tub sipper.
Our final white was the Eos du Chateau Lugagnac 2008 Bordeaux Blanc. While not my first choice, it was a top pick for several in the group. Reminiscent of an oaky, buttery chardonnay, it complimented the brie and crackers and stood up nicely to the Spicy Shrimp. Chardonnay lovers, add this to your list for $12 SRP.
Our first red of the evening (now I am really embarrassed about the whole Bordeaux = red misconception) was a hit with the red wine lovers in the group. A big, bold RED, the Chateau Lestrille 2006 Bordeaux Superieur Rouge was so earthy on the nose when first opened, that we just about lost a few of our tasters before they had a sip. As with many full bodied reds, this wine just needed some time to breathe and it calmed right down into a sultry, smooth sip of heaven. I recommend decanting it at the beginning of your evening so that it will be soft and open by the time you enjoy it with a fine steak or mushroom dish. With hints of cinnamon and full flavors of blueberry and currant, I could drink this wine with food or on its own and at $14 SRP, I believe I will.
Our final taste was my personal favorite: Chateau Bel Air 2007 Bordeaux Superieur Rogue. With a gorgeous ruby color, this softer red was the group favorite. 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet and 25% Cabernet Franc, the Bel Air features complex berry and cherry flavors with a hint of earth. It paired well with the stuffed mushrooms and brought out the smoky flavors in the BL Tomatoes, but would be an even more perfect compliment to grilled meat or pasta with sausage. Mmmm . . . dinner at my house, anyone? At just $14 SRP, I can provide the food AND wine.
For information on the wines we tasted and more, please visit: www.planet-bordeaux.com. Wines are available for purchase in stores and on line, so I encourage you to Google and enjoy!
Many thanks to Balzac communications for Syndicat des Bordeaux et Bordeaux Superieur, our host Linda Kissam and my sister council members: Ginger Giorgano, Carmen Michelli, Debbie Wiens, and Judee Smith. I look forward to sharing our next journey and many more to come.