For a Special Evening at Home: Bordeaux’s Sweet, Sparkling, Savory Surprises #Winophiles

Bordeaux: white, red, rose– and it comes in sweet and sparkling too!

What’s new, different, or surprising about the venerable, distinguished and well known wine region Bordeaux?

  • As of July 2019, to combat climate change, Bordeaux wineries can use four new red grapes: Marselan, Touriga Nacional, Castets, and Arinarnoa.
  • New white grapes allowed in Bordeaux are Alvarinho, Petit Manseng, and Liliorila.
  • Bordeaux wines come in in a wide range of styles and colors: still, sparkling, sweet, white, rose, and red.
  • Bordeaux wines can be affordable! They don’t have to be red tannic monsters that break the bank.
  • Bordeaux’s diversity of wines means there’s one for every occasion and menu!

In fact for a special evening at home, you can enjoy a range of sweet, savory, and sparkling wines paired with a romantic menu and barely break a $20 bill.

We found a selection of affordable Bordeaux wines at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Grocery Outlet plus I had two Sweet Bordeaux samples which we paired with a special dinner of oysters, mussels, salad, duck. 

In broad strokes, Bordeaux is located about six hours drive south and west of Paris on the Atlantic coast. The region is nearly 3,000 acres and consists of 65 appellations that are mostly located close to sea level which makes it damp, swampy, disease prone making it harder to pursue organic and biodynamic certifications. Some years the entire harvest can be lost because of the weather conditions. On the left bank is the Garonge River, with its gravel soils, and famous for cabernet. On the right is the Dordogne river, soils with more clay, and famous for merlot.

But actually there’s a lot more complexity in Bordeaux than these broad strokes!

  • Bordeaux has hundreds of soil types from ancient sea beds turned to soft and hard limestone to deep clays and gravels.
  • Merlot is grown all over Bordeaux and makes up 66% of the plantings.  
  • White wines comprise 8% of Bordeaux’s production.
  • Sweet wines make up 3% of Bordeaux’s production. 
  • Sparkling wine called Cremant de Bordeaux maybe be small in number and hard to find but worth looking for. 

Bordeaux Wine Pairing Menu for a Special Evening at Home 

  • Course 1
    Grassy Bar Oysters
  • Course 2
    Fresh Local Mussels poached in a little Sweet Bordeaux.
    We have mussels often, but this sauce was over the top. I ended up licking it off the mussel shells because it was so brilliant! 
  • Course 3 Salad Course 
    Tangerine and avocado green salad sprinkled with tete de Moine cheese along with pate on bleu cheese crackers (recipe below)
  • Course 4 Main
    Fresh Duck breast with blueberry sauce and Pommes Frites cooked in duck fat sprinkled with Tete de Moine cheese
  • Dessert Course
    Berry and Asian Pear Puff pastry with tete de Moine sprinkled on top 
  • Cheese Course
    Cheeses: Blue, goat, tete de moine, snowdonian aged smoked, cranberry stilton, toscana

 

Wines 

Greeter and Starter wines can provide a simple pleasure but these also paired well with the starter courses of oysters, mussels, and salad. We wanted to include a sparkling wine with this meal and menu but our search options found us coming up short. However, last spring we tasted and enjoyed these “#ClinkDifferent Crémant: Bordeaux’s Sparkling Wine Paired with Crab Cakes, Squash Fritters, and the Daughters of Dada.”

Red Wines: We found that all three of these red wines from Bordeaux really needed food, and food with fat to be appreciated. The fat, and the flavor of the fat make the wines shine:

  • 2018 Chateau Lamothe + Vincent 
    80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc 
  • 2017 Chateau Les Sablonnest 
    80% Merlot,  20% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2016Léo by Léo Bordeaux Superieur
    60% Merlot, 40 % Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sweet Bordeaux:

These wines really surprised us with how well they went with the savory and salty foods including the rich duck and the briny oysters. They really were the stars!

  • 2016 Chateau La Rame 
    95% Sémillon 5% Sauvignon
  • 2015 Chateau Chateau Dauphine 
    80% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc

 

2019 Les Hauts de Lagarde
ABV 12.5; SRP $15 at Whole Foods
Organic: 60% Sauvignon, 40% Semillon 

Color: Pale yellow, straw, lemon chiffon

Nose: Very floral and pretty, jasmine, violet, orange blossom, tangerine blossom, 

Palate: Slick smooth texture, fruit forward, not sweet, nice mineral finish, lemon curd, citrus blossom, 

Pairing: Oyster and wine brings out a nice fruitiness when put together, very fresh and clean. The oyster becomes so sweet and wonderful. The greens and the tangerine in the salad work so well with the wine. The creaminess of the avocado does so well the mouthfeel of the wine. Super yummy with our mussels.

Bordeaux Rose

2019 Chateau Landonnet Rose 
SRP under $10 at Trader Joe’s
80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot 

Gretel found this rose so refreshing after a busy day she said, “Keep that bottle handy!”

Color: Salmon pink, coral pink, looks like a Sange, it has more color to it than your typical rose

Nose: Very floral! Carnation, floral and clove, earthy garden with wet damp earth and flowers, citrus flowers, a big bouquet of flowers, white flowers. 

Palate: Surprisingly dry palate compared to the nose, tart cherry, melon, very clean and refreshing, it has some acid on the palate, but does not have a lingering finish. This is a very pleasant easy drinking wine perfect for poolside or picnic but with enough to hold its own with food. 

Pairing: This rose is such a flexible wine that it went wonderfully with all the elements of the salad. The sweet tart tangerine, the creamy avocado, and the tart vinegarette was fantastic together. The pate topped blue cheese crackers was so fabulous with the wine. As nice as the wine is with the mussels, we found it to be better with the white Bordeaux. 

 

2018 Reserve Chateau Lamothe + Vincent

2018 Chateau Lamothe + Vincent  Reserve
ABV 14.5%; SRP under $10 at Grocery Outlet 
80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc 

When you put this wine in a nice glass, it delivers, it will also most probably deliver if it is lays down for a few years. It over delivers for the price. If you can get your hands on this wine and lay it down, you should have a lovely wine. The year 2018 was super hot with searing heat waves all over Europe and France — which ripened the fruit nicely.

Color: So dense and dark, maroon on the rim. 

Nose: Vegetal, green pepper, cherry and nice herbs, mint, eucalyptus, chocolate. 

Palate: Front of the palate is herbs and cherry, it is tart and acidic on the finish. Given a few years this wine mellow and develop nicely. Gretel was surprised at the alcohol content in the wine. It does not seem to be that high. Lots of fruit and tannin. Nice herbal qualities from the merlot, and vegetal qualities from the Cab Franc. 

Pairing: I was not that thrilled with the potato and the wine, but loved it with the duck. Sue liked it with both the potatoes and the duck, especially with the savory berry sauce. 

Chateau les Sablonnets

2017 Chateau Les Sablonnest
ABV 13.5%; SRP under $10 at Grocery Outlet 
80% Merlot,  20% Cabernet Sauvignon

Color: Deep and dark, maroon rim, medium plus density

Nose: Totally chocolate on the nose. I smelled this thinking it would be so fun with the duck. Chocolate cherry mint. chocolate cherry mint ice cream. The sweetness of vanilla on the nose because of the oak. 

Palate: On the nose I found it to be fabulous, but disappointing on the palate. To Sue it was thin. The fruit is not there like it should be. 

Pairing: After smelling this wine, I want to pair this with chicken mole. The pate and cracker is exceptional. All of the fat of the cracker and the pate balances the austerity of the wine. It really brings out the cherry in the wine. The wine really  needs food to make it shine. The pomme frite and the wine was so fabulous together, the wine on its own was a bit blasébut the main dish made it pop.

Leo by Leo

2016 Léo by Léo Bordeaux Superieur
ABV 14.5; SRP under $10 at Grocery Outlet
60% Merlot, 40 % Cabernet Sauvignon.

Color: Medium plus density with a rather large rim. It is a very pretty ruby color with a clear to coral rim. 

Nose: Roses and rhubarb, rose garden, rose petal, cherry and earth. 

Palate: Cherry, cherry, cherry pipe tobacco, cherry tobacco, 

Pairing: With the pate cracker it is quite nice. Fabulous with the pomme Frits. The richness of the duck fat and the starch of the potato is absolutely wonderful with the wine. The cherry notes in the wine were fabulous with the berry sauce and the richness of the duck breast. The herbal aspects of the Leo also matched nicely with the fruit and the herbs of the duck sauce, and were absolutely beautiful together. 

For these two Sweet Bordeaux, Botrytis makes them special. What’s that? “A specific set of conditions are necessary for Noble Rot to take hold; it begins with mist. Along a certain ideally situated stretch of the Ciron river, morning mists envelop entire vineyards and are often “trapped” by valleys or other topographical heterogeneity. When those misty mornings are followed by dry, sunny afternoons, Botrytis cinerea perforates nearby grape skins and allows moisture trapped inside the grapes to evaporate when dry conditions return. This cycle happens again and again throughout Autumn, increasing the concentration of sugars in the remaining grape juice and making sweet wine production in the Bordeaux region possible.”

2016 Chateau La Rame, Sainte-Croix-Du-Mont 
ABV 13%; ph: 3.54; Acidity: 3.7; Residual sugar: 128
Sample; SRP $21 for half bottle 

The 50 year old vines 

Color: Golden buttercup

Nose: Petrol, honeysuckle, baking spices, nutmeg, peach nectar,

Palate: Cloves and caramel, a baked apple with cloves and caramel, slick clay, peach

Pairing: So very nice with the oyster, savory meets sweet, it just works together, win win situation, While the sweetness of the wine did not fight the sweet savory flavors of the potato, it was a bit to sweet for Sue. Me on the other hand want to have duck with this wine all the time. It is a rich decadent, umami, insanely greatness. Sweet, rich and savory. Blue cheese and the wine is out of this world. Salty sweet and wonderful. Great with the cranberry stilton. Great wine to accompany an end of the evening cheese plate. An easy pair with a savory meal. 

2015 Chateau Chateau Dauphine Loupiac
ABV 13%; SRP (sample)
80% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc

Color: Golden buttercup

Nose: Grass, salinity, orange blossom, earthy, coastal freshness, ocean breeze, 

Palate: For Sue there was a bit of petrol on the palate while it reminded me of a milk chocolate dipped orange. 

Pairing:  Salty and sweet with the Grassy Bar oysters, it is unexpectedly amazingly very good. The sweet and the salt together make the both of them pop. The oyster was enhanced all the way down. Both the oyster and the wine have a wonderfully long lingering finish. This is my new love affair. I loved this with the duck dish. The richness and the richness added such a double intensity. Intense richness and flavors came from both the meal and the wine which married so perfectly together. There is nothing better than frying potatoes in duck fat, which brings out such. bright orange flavors in the wine. While the  berry sauce was fantastic with the wine, sue felt that adding a bit of orange zest to the compote would have only enhanced the meal and the wine. I felt that Sue’s chardonnay jelly pulled the entire desert together with the dessert and the wine., however the butter in the dish, the cheese, and the jelly all came together to make a wonderful dish that was perfect with the wine. The cheese palate and the wine was also a great accompaniment to the wine. Sweet and savory, yin and yang. A perfect way to end a meal. A bite of the blue cheese and the wine was phenominal. Edgy, and risky, but such a great pair with a savory creamy partner.

We have never done a meal like this before nor have we thought that a meal like this would pair with as many wines as it did tonight. 

Usually when Sue makes a tart she just puts fruit on a crust (whatever it may be) and tops it with a sweetener of her choice. This time she actually made a pie filling that included flour and sugar, topping it with chardonnay jelly (that she made from grapes in her yard), tabs of butter, and a bit of tete de Moine cheese. Then baked it for 30 to 40 minutes. 

Who else is writing about Bordeaux?

 

Here’s more food and wine pairings featuring Bordeaux wines from here on Wine Predator.

From November 2020:

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#ClinkDifferent with Crémant: Bordeaux’s Sparkling Wine Paired with Crab Cakes, Squash Fritters, and the Daughters of Dada #Winophiles

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Bleu Cheese Crackers

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound blue cheese ( we used a combination)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Method
  • Remove rind and hard bits. 
  • Blend butter and cheese until smooth. 
  • Add flours and mix together to form a ball. 
  • Shape dough into two 1 1/2-inch wide rolls. 
  • Wrap in waxed paper and chill in freezer for 30 minutes or fridge for 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F. 
  • Cut each roll of dough into about 15 slices, sprinkle with salt, and bake on ungreased baking sheets for 12 to 15 minutes. 
  • Set aside to let cool, then serve with pate.
  • Yes that’s cheese, butter, and more butter. This is not a low calorie treat!

 

 

 

12 thoughts on “For a Special Evening at Home: Bordeaux’s Sweet, Sparkling, Savory Surprises #Winophiles

  1. I’d pull up a chair to all of your courses, and wow does Jeff have it right! Actually we’ve found anytime you’re invited to a French person’s house for a meal, whether lunch or dinner, plan to be there several hours. It truly is a great time! Nice wine finds!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a feast for all the senses! Those mussels are calling my name – not that I wouldn’t enjoy everything else on offer. I love that you gathered your wines from local grocery stores, proving that Bordeaux is an approachable wine suitable for every day.

    Liked by 1 person

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