Clink Sustainably: Create Climate Conscious Conversations with Bordeaux Wines, Stemple Creek Ranch Beef #Winophiles

With our eyes and hearts set on romance this month, and with love in the air as spring is almost sprung, what’s more romantic than clinking a wine glass with a lover? Clinking glasses filled with sustainable wine paired with sustainably grown beef! (For more ideas from the French Winophiles, scroll down!) What’s also romantic? Having a climate conscious conversation with your sweetie while drinking sustainably grown wine and food! Bordeaux — and the rest of the wine growing and drinking world– must get serious about sustainability and climate change if wine is going to be enjoyed in the future. If we don’t, in thirty years, many of today’s wine growing regions will be too hot and the weather too volatile to grow wine grapes commercially. That’s why we all need to be having climate conscious conversations with our loved ones. Now that’s true love — for the planet, the people, and the species that live here! So clink sustainably with your sweetie! Here’s how.

You may be surprised to learn that 60% of Bordeaux vineyards are certified organic, biodynamic, or sustainable. That’s up from 35% in 2014, but the goal is for 100% of the industry to reduce their environmental impact and pesticide use, to preserve and create biodiversity, to maintain social cohesion, and to invest in research. For over 20 years, Bordeaux’s wine industry has been committed to sustainable winegrowing, and reducing pesticides has been a research priority  since 1989.  From 2017 to 2018, organic farming grew 24%, and Bordeaux has the most “High Environmental Value” certified estates, the highest level of French certification. 

Another response for Bordeaux to address climate change and sustainability is the introduction in April of 2021 of six new grape varieties. But for today, let’s focus on sustainability with two examples of sustainable growing wines 2020 Château Haut-Bages Libéral Cérès and 2016 Château Anthonic with information gleaned from a November 2021 ZOOM with the winemakers. But first, 

What does it mean to be organic in Bordeaux?

  • Caring for natural resources such as water, soil, and air
  • Not using synthetic mineral fertilizers or chemical/synthetic pesticides
  • Using natural active ingredients
  • Promoting biodiversity of species
  • Using beneficial insects 
  • Creating diverse ecosystems
  • Using natural products instead of genetically modified products

What does it mean to be biodynamic in Bordeaux?

  • Seeing the vine is an “agricultural organism” that needs to be protected and exists in harmony with the whole environment
  • Abiding by guidelines provided by associations and organizations such as Demeter, 
  • Using organic farming as a foundation and extending it to see a farm is a vivid, individual organism that is self-sufficient, and uses animal husbandry as a core element
  • Centered the farmer in this organism
  • Accounting for biological and cosmic rhythms
  • Using biodynamic preparations to activate specific subtle processes

What does it mean to be a natural winemaker in Bordeaux?

  • Growing out of organic winemaking and referring to spontaneous fermentation without additives, and unfiltered final product with low or no sulfur.

Wines

  • 2020 Château Haut-Bages Libéral Cérès

  • 2016 Château Anthonic 

Menu

  • Cheese plate with blue and camembert
  • Beet salad
  • Roasted potatoes and Squash 
  • Stemple Creek Steak 

Can’t imagine giving up meat but you want to live life more sustainably? Purchase meat from a sustainable grower like Stemple Creek, and share one steak with two, three or even four people. Supplement the steak with lots of delicious vegetables. However, while the Bordeaux folks say, “A rare juicy ribeye steak is the perfect meal to enjoy with a round and structured red from the right bank (Saint Émilion, Pomerol, or Fronsac) or left bank (Médoc, St Estèphe, Pauillac, or Margaux). The rich texture of the steak matches the wine’s tannins and the wine’s soft woodiness intensifies the smoked grill flavors” we think we’d prefer a braised meat. 

Note: Alsace is also full of hot bed of sustainability. Read about two biodynamic wines here paired with a romantic meal of fondue and coq a vin. 


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2020 Château Haut-Bages Libéral Cérès

ABV 12.5%
SRP $25
Grapes: 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot
Region/AOC: Pauillac
Importer: Millésima USA

In a ZOOM with Claire Villars-Lurton of Château Haut-Bages Libéral, we learned that it’s very complicated with issues of mildew in Bordeaux to be a sustainable vineyard that’s certified to be organic and biodynamic. They express those principles in the cellar with natural fermentation and natural vinification, but to be organic and biodynamic is not the only way to be connected with the soil and the fungus that is key within the soil for soil health. 

Claire Villars-Lurton is the “happy owner of two chateaus… my grandfather was a visionary who bought these estates.” And while it is challenging, wines are made without sulfites and they are certified biodynamic by Demeter.

On two blocks of vineyards, she’s planted 90 trees per hectare: “the trees and the plants to create beautiful biodiversity” along with carbon sequestration. “The trees are best for creating water, humous, biodiversity,” she says seeing the necessity of planting vines with trees. “My way of thinking is to come back with the truth.”  She finds the vines suffer less when planted with the trees. 

Note: Next month the French Winophiles celebrate France’s Women in Wine, and Claire Villars-Lurton would be a great subject!

Color: Medium density, vibrant color, very youthful, ruby rose with a bright hummingbird fushia rim; It is so bright and vibrant. 

Nose: Very pretty nose, rose petal, sandalwood, amber, baking soda, talcum powder, very much like burning incense, cherry, plum, vanilla bean.

Palate: Tart cherry, lots of tannins, bright acidity, minerals, fresh and clean, the finish has a loamy earthy kind of quality like cocoa nibs, espresso, rich earthiness, coffee beans. 

Pairing: The camembert brings out an intense bright fruit in the wine. Perfect with blue cheese, the wine cleanses the rich creaminess in the wine. The wine was fine with the salad, but the beets were a bit too sweet for the wine; however with a bite of blue cheese made it shine a bit better, but this is not the perfect match for the wine. Fine with the baked potato, but not our favorite. The blue cheese on the steak was good. While this meal was a fabulous meal with a wonderful piece of meat, we think this wine would appreciate more of a braised type of meal, served with roast vegetables. The sweetness of the squash and the beets were just a bit too overwhelming for the wine. Not that this was a bad meal, it is just that there are things that are so much better, because the wine is truly fabulous. 

2016 Château Anthonic 

ABV 15.5%
SRP $30
Grapes: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc 
Region/AOC: Moulis-en-Médoc 
Importer: New France Wine Company

Jean-Baptiste Cordonnier of Château Anthonic thinks the word sustainably is weak.

Seeing it as the first step, they planted their first hedges in 2010. Soon, he started seeing biodiversity including garter snakes: “since then the dream has never left me to go further and further miles of hedges and trees in the plots” rebuilding living soils along the way.

“I am confident we can take a lot of carbon in the atmosphere out and we have part of the answer to global warming,” he said. He has a passion for the forest to come back.

“Nothing can be done in ecology without the human dimension.”

He spoke about an organization that will prepare young people for the profession of wine worker: “we teach them the trade not like in school. The vineyard is the classroom, the cellar is the classroom,. the teachers join the students in the field. The agroecological dimension is at the heart of the training.

We want them to be in the profession of agriculture of tomorrow not of today.”

Discussing this blend, he says,

“When I try to give a description of the wine, I use a comparison of the human body — deep skeleton is the cab, the merlot is the muscles, the cab franc is the outside structure (the skin), drop of Petit Verdot is like a drop of Chanel #5  — when we add the Petit Verdot, we add the perfume of the vintage.”

Color: Dense and rich, unfined and unfiltered, plum with a garnet rim 

Nose: Sweet ripe fruit, raspberry, cherry, mulberry 

Palate: Dry, with very bold tannins, chalky finish, clean herbs, eucalyptus, sage, citric acid, cherry jolly ranchers, this is not your mellow Merlot at all. 

Pairing: Creamy blue cheese brings out a lovely nuttiness in the cheese and lovely blue fruit in the wine. Nice with the gouda and spiced gouda, but best with the creamy richness in the blue and the camembert. The beet salad made the salad taste a bit like dirt, so not our favorite pairing. This wine was quite a bit better with our meal. It loved the sage and the toasted pecans in the squash dish. It was not perfect with the beet salad, and so much better with a bit of blue cheese. 

For more Romance from France, check out these blogs where love is in the air!

You’re invited to join our Romance is in the Air February 2022 #winophiles Twitter Discussion! Here you’ll find what we will be discussing when. 

What’s up next for the French Winophiles? 

March:  A Toast to France’s Women in Wine for Women’s History Month  (invite) 

April:  Joyeuses Pâques! Hosted by Camilla Mann –  It’s the day before Easter. Let’s share Spring recipes, French Easter traditions, and whatever wine you would pair with those dishes. No required region or variety. Be creative. 

May: Southwest France – Hosted by Linda Whipple – A wide open field that includes Bergerac, Cahors, Gaillac, Irouléguy, Jurançon, and Madiran, among others. If you’ve already written about one of these regions, why not choose another?

On Renoir’s swing near the vineyards in Paris

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