Bordeaux The Beautiful!

Bordeaux. This single word conjures up thoughts of some of the most prestigious wine known. Both the business side and the romantic side of wine meet seamlessly in Bordeaux where the largest amount of fine wine in the world is produced.

The Bordeaux wine region is located in southwest France and surrounds the bordeauxmappicmonkeycity of Bordeaux. Near the city, two rivers, the Garonne and Dordogne, meet to form the Gironde, which flows into the Atlantic. These rivers divide the Bordeaux region into three areas: the Left Bank, the Right Bank and Entre-Deux-Mers in the middle.

The main red grapes for the region are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. To be a “Bordeaux” the wine must have at least two of these grapes blended together. Generally, a blend from the Right Bank will lead with Merlot while the Left Bank showcases Cabernet Sauvignon. Entre-Deux-Mers produces mostly everyday drinking wines featuring Merlot.

Today, Bordeaux style blends are made worldwide. Among the best regions to produce this style is Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley is also home to “Meritage” (pronounced like heritage), which is similar to a Left Bank Bordeaux with Cabernet Sauvignon being the prominent grape. If you have a hefty wine allowance and want a superior Bordeaux style from Napa Valley, splurge on Opus One, a collaborative effort between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Chateau Mouton Rothschild.

If Opus One isn’t in your budget not to worry. It is fairly easy to find Bordeaux style wine. Most will use the typical Bordeaux grapes and generally Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot will be the predominant varietals. And now you have an excuse to go wine shopping!



Destroyed Vines

I saw this article on and wanted to share.  What a tragedy!

Just to make it clear – I am copying and pasting this article directly from…..

Thousands of Medoc vines vandalised

  • Wednesday 21 March 2012
  • by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

About 2,000 young vines have been vandalised causing tens of thousands of euros damage at a Medoc estate.


One of Chateau Labat’s vines cut off at the stem

The plot of Merlot vines at Chateau Labat, a 7-hectare cru bourgeois estate in AOC Haut-Medoc, was attacked on Friday night, possibly by a gang, the owners suspect.

The vines, in the commune of Saint-Laurent-du-Medoc near Pauillac, were not located next to a main road, and accessible only through a main gate to the estate, indicating that the vandals may have specifically targetted the site.

The plants were cut between 8cm and 12cm from the base, with almost all of the shoots and buds cut off. Around one third may be able to produce fruit again, but the rest have been destroyed, meaning a huge loss in terms of lost plants, and manpower.

‘It is the symbolic value that is most shocking,’ owner François Nony, whose family have owned Labat since 1920, and who also owns the 38-hectare Chateau Caronne Ste Gemme, told

‘We have been racking our brains as to who could possibly have done this. Clearly they were very determined. For one person alone, cutting this many vines would have taken around six hours of work, so I have to assume there may have been more than one criminal.’

The plot of 5,500 vines had been planted in 2011, and was due to be used in the wine next year, for the 2013 harvest. Between 1,900 and 2,000 vines – around 20 rows – were damaged.

A police enquiry has been opened in Pauillac, but there are no obvious lines of enquiry.

Nony is vice-president of the Alliance Cru Bourgeois, working to promote the wines of the Medoc. ‘As part of the promotions team, I deal with the good news, not the bad news, and can’t see why that would attract anger. We do have occasional staff issues at the estate, as does everyone, but again I can’t see that they have been so severe as to cause this anger towards my family.’

Although extremely rare, this is not the first time that vines have been criminally damaged in Bordeaux. In March 2006, the Cathiard family, owners of Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte, found 800 of their vines had been destroyed at their Chateau Cantelys estate in Pessac Leognan.


A Surfer’s Wine

I have some good news!  I have found a really good wine that does not taste like it was made for every wine drinker on the planet.  You may think that is NOT good news, but I say it is.  After living in Italy for 3 years, I came home to America to find most of the “everyday drinking” wines tasting the same – all geared toward ease of drinking but lacking in complexity and finish.  But alas, I have stumbled on a really great everyday wine that has some depth to it.

I was happy to see a new wine store in my town called Wine Styles. They carry many reasonably priced bottles of wine, have a monthly wine club and offer special events like tastings, pairings, etc.  It was about day 3 of being in town that my husband and I walked into this store to purchase some wine (afterall, a hotel room with no wine is not really a hotel room at all).  I was signing us up for the wine club, and my husband started talking with one of the employees.  Turns out, the employee was professional surfer, Kyle Knox, who just happens to have a passion for wine.  So much so, in fact, that he teamed up with Hill Family Estate to make his signature “Barrel Blend” wine (the pun is intended).

I bought a bottle to try and was very impressed.  Gone was the overly fruit forward taste that had drained me of all hope in finding reasonably priced, reasonably complex California wine.  This wine is really good.   It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  Sounds enticing doesn’t it – a great blending of varietals.  This wine is all about balance.  Hill Family Estate winemaker Alison Doran puts it best:  “The nose has a great ‘wow’ factor – unmistakably Napa in its elegance, but with an earthy blackberry and vanilla appeal that really makes you want to take a sip. And the palate is lovely, balanced, seductive and interesting, with plushy berry fruit and vanilla scented oak playing backup on tannins.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I also tasted plum.  Whatever the case, this wine will be coming home with me often.  I may not drink it literally everyday (retails for about $20 a bottle) but as often as I crave a balanced, interesting wine.

*tasting note source:

Bella Umbria

A couple weekends ago I packed my bags and went off to Umbria with my husband, daugther and two other terrific families to a memorable gem high in the hills of Fratta Todina in Umbria.

I know this is a wine and gourmet food site, not a travel site, but I would be remiss if I neglected to share our accommodations with you.  We stayed at the extremely lovely La Palazzetta del Vescovo.  I first found this Relais on “Trip Advisor” after many hours of searching for a great get-away.  I was intrigued because it had many reviews and NOT ONE was negative.  Odd, because there is always some curmudgeon out there who has something negative to say about every place I’ve ever seen reviewed.  My first visit resulted in me adding to the glowing reviews on “Trip Advisor.”  This past visit was my third time back to La Palazzetta del Vescovo and it was more like going to see good friends then it was going to a place to stay.  The structure used to be a vacation home of a bishop and the owners have beautifully restored the once pile of rubble with impeccable quality and attention to detail.  Stefano and Paola, are lovely, gracious hosts who make you feel like you’ve known them for years.  The food is prepared by Paola with passion as evidenced in each taste.  The wine is carefully selected by Stefano, a certified Sommelier, whose ability to find exquisite wines and pair them with Paola’s food is superb. Chiaretta is an added bonus – a bouncy, happy dog who accompanies Stefano to greet guests upon arrival.

While staying at our truly delightful accommodations, Stefano kindly set up a wine and olive oil tasting at Tenuta Le Velette in Orvieto.  The estate is in the heart of the Orvieto Classico production (a DOC white wine). The property’s history dates back to the Etruscans and includes cellars dug out from tufa stone, a typical, volcanic stone of the area.  The estate has the ideal placement on the hills of Orvieto to produce outstanding wine and olive oil.  The owner, Corrado Bottai, generously spent several hours with us.  He took us all around the grounds.  We saw numerous cellars, some started by monks.  They were dark with cave-like tunnels and alcoves where dusty bottles of wine were hiding.  The electricity kept going out so we had to use a candelabra – it felt like the best stocked haunted house ever.  Another cellar had  floors, walls, and ceilings covered in a cushy, colorful array of white, orange, and rust mold.  Signore Bottai assured us this was some of the best real estate to age fine wines.

The tasting took place in a beautiful room in the manor.  It was adorned with fresco painted ceilings, opulent lighting and a large wooden table full of meats, cheeses, breads, olive oil and most importantly, several bottles of wine.  We tasted 6 wines – all of which were delightful.  As a matter of fact, we enjoyed them so much, my husband and I bought every varietal we tasted.    In addition, we purchased 3 bottles of their wonderfully pungent olive oil.

The Whites –
Berganorio (Trebbiano, Grechetto, Verdello, Malvasia, Dupreggio)
Lunato Orvieto Classico Superiore DOC (Trebbiano, Grechetto, Verdello, Malvasia, Dupreggio)
Grechetto Solo Uve (Grechetto)

The Reds –
Calanco (Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon)
Gaudio (Merlot)
Accordo (Sangiovese)

I especially loved the rawness of the Sangiovese.  It was a great expression of what Sangiovese lends to the numerous varietals it intertwines with in so many wines out there in today’s market.

Signore Bottai left a great impression on me.  He has an excellent grasp on the English language but without all the colloquialisms Americans use.  This resulted in his mind churning for the appropriate words to express himself.  He spoke beautiful, mindful expressions that made me envious of his vocabulary.  I wrote down some of these so I wouldn’t forget them.  One of my favorite quotes was:  “Sangiovese is a great confusion in the glass.”  I couldn’t agree more!

I left Tenuta Le Velette with yet another great adventure under my belt.  I was somewhat full from wine and antipasti but that didn’t stop me from going back to enjoy Paola’s cooking and Stefano’s wine selections.  This was my last night and I was not going to miss out.  My friends and I dined on Cinghiale (wild boar) marinated in local red wine and drank a lovely bottle of Montefalco…if only I could just move in with Paola and Stefano…maybe I could be the housekeeper…the gardener….the dishwasher…..