Thursday, October 8, 2015

Bordeaux - with a Side of Blue Angels

Ever wondered how all those Bordeaux wines end up on your local restaurant wine list? It's from industry trade events that ply restaurants, club directors and more with tasting events like the one I attended today at San Francisco's Gold Gate Club.

It's an interesting idea to market all the NON Grand Cru Bordeaux wines as a group as Bordeaux Under One Roof does. The trade group says the Grand Crus represent just 3% of Bordeaux. Today was about meeting a few of the other 97% of wines made in Bordeaux. 

You know it's a French wine trade tasting
when there's a bouquet of roses...
China and Asia rank as the #1 consumer of Bordeaux wines. The U.S. ranks as 5th largest consumer of Bordeaux wines by volume, 4th by value (i.e. $ spent). 

The takeaway from the organizers: Bordeaux offers value AND you don't have to age the wines (although many are age worthy). The price point for this tasting was under $60 (retail price).


About 2 percent of Bordeaux is farmed organically (fewer are certified), according to Mary (sorry, I did not catch her last name), Master of Wine, who works for the Bordeaux trade group and served as the expert in today’s seminar, which preceded the tasting. As in the U.S. the Bordeaux region has its own sustainability programs as well which she said 20% of the vintners and growers were participating in. 

Nice to see old pals like Kermit Lynch there. And Martine's Wines - which I had never met before, but with whom my old Brit documentary colleague David Kennard (we used to work together on a national PBS series) has made films with (A Year in Burgundy, A Year in Champagne). The latest film is A Year in Port - and it should be out very soon…(So very British of them to choose Port for the final part of the trilogy. Or perhaps the Port producers chipped in on the film.)

I couldn’t get information from the Bordeaux tasting event organizers ahead of time about which wines came from certified vines, but I will keep trying to sort that out. 

Comparing Napa and Bordeaux 

In the meantime, Napa should gloat - although it’s only 1/6th as big as Bordeaux, about 8 percent of Napa’s vines are certified organic. Interestingly, many of those are from French wineries. (Araujo Estates comes to mind - its owned by the same group that owns Chateau Latour; until this year, Domaine Carneros was also among that number, with 300+ acres of organic vines, but they recently decertified; and the de Coninck family’s Beacanon Estate wines - the family has 94 acres of vines in Napa).
On the other hand, you can’t find a decent bottle of Cabernet or Merlot in Napa for $20 - organic or not. Oops - I’m going to correct myself here. There is ONE and it comes from that Bordeaux family’s estate - Beaucanon Estate. You can find it on their web site (it's not a winery one can visit but you can order the wine) or on Total Wine (where it's $25).

The Major Attraction

By 1:30 pm, attention had shifted away from the wines and towards the heavens - the Blue Angels were putting on quite a show over the water, and many sailing boats were out to enjoy both the perfect weather and the air show. (It's a commercial for their coming show during Fleet Week.)

(When I was in my late 20's, I got to go on a press flight with them - something I'll never forget. Seeing them there brought back a lot of memories.)

If you're into making new memories over a bottle of Bordeaux, check out the tasting booklet here.

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