Bordeaux wines are certainly the most copied in the world! Practically all the other wine producing regions, both in Europe and abroad, produce their wines with grape varieties (grapes) from this region. Bordeaux is a very traditional French region in the production of very high quality red wines, especially reds. These are very robust and elegant wines that can usually be kept for a long time before being consumed.
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In Bordeaux, wines can only be made with some specific grapes from the region, which are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Carmenère, Petit Verdot and Malbec. I say “only” because wine making in France is something very serious and all the processes from planting to the choice of “assemblage” (I will explain!) Are controlled by very strict legislation.
Whoever has the habit of buying wines in stores or supermarkets certainly recognized some of the names I mentioned above. Bordeaux grapes have adapted very well to other regions of the world and some of them use their names as a symbol of national viticulture. However, in Bordeaux the most traditional is to use two or more more of these grapes to compose the wine, what we call “cut” or “assemblage.” Obviously, these cuts add more complexity to the wine! Once I heard from an acquaintance that “cut wine” was an inferior product, that the producer made a clever mix with what he was unable to use in a better varietal wine. Often I also heard from customers “I only drink wine from one grape”, also because they think it was always a superior product. and excellent varietal wines. It will depend on the source.
All Bordeaux wines are made this way. Some wines, like the great Chateau Pétrus (which for us, poor mortals, costs the equivalent of a zero car, or the entry of the financing of a 30 square meter apartment in the Box), takes almost only Merlot, however, always has a small percentage of Cabernet Franc. Depending on how the harvest went, the winemaker, the one who makes the wine, can choose to put more or less Cabernet Franc in Pétrus. For example, Malbec grape wines from Argentina are very well known and appreciated by Brazilians, but few people know that this grape is not Argentine but French! In Chile, the best known and most used grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère, also Bordeaux, but generally worked as a varietal. In fact, wines made with only one variety are called “varietal”. In Uruguay, we have the famous and super full-bodied wines from the Tannat grape and in Brazil they are saying that the Merlot grape is the one that best adapted to our “terroir”, but honestly I believe that there are already wines with other grapes that have also adapted well .
But this is not only a product of terroir studies, but also a marketing ploy. As I mentioned earlier, in France (and in other European wine-producing countries) there is a tradition of regions, all very well defined. In the “New World” countries where there were no wine traditions, the idea of varietal wines that would represent the region was created and, over time, this would become the local tradition.
Have you noticed that on the labels of French wines the name of the grapes that compose it is not written? This happens precisely because in France there is this legislation that, in summary (a lot), says that a certain region can only elaborate its wines with certain grapes, something that started as a tradition and over the years (centuries), needed to be regulated so that the styles were not indiscriminately copied by lower level producers and so that the regions were not uncharacterized. All of this is known as AOC, or Appelation d’Origine Controlée or Appellation of Controlled Origin. Here in France these wine regions are very traditional and are part of the history of the French people and their daily lives. Therefore, the French are used to the styles and characteristics of wines. For the average consumer here, it doesn’t really matter what the grapes are, how long the wine spent in oak barrels, but the tradition and styles of each house or “maison” in Bordeaux are better known as Chateau.
Today’s wine is Chateau Puycarpin 2009, Bordeaux Supérieur, from the commune of Bèlves de Castillon which is close to the vineyards of Saint Émilion, another very famous commune in Bordeaux. Our wine has 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon in its composition and ages in French oak barrels for 12 months. This is a more full-bodied and tannic wine, but quite balanced and has only 12.5% alcohol. Its aromas are of red fruits, some chocolate and an aroma that I find quite characteristic of Bordeaux wines: leather! A delight! Fortunately, this is a wine that is easily found in Brazil.
The cheese I chose to pair with was Saint Nectaire, a cheese from the Auverne region in France, made with cow’s milk and when I researched it I found it would be a great match with Bordeaux wines. It has been very funny to choose cheeses here! I always go to the same store, here called the fromagerie, and I admit that I have a tendency to choose the strangest, stinky and moldiest cheeses! Saint Nectaire, however, looked like a very harmless cheese. His face is that of a Brie cheese, with that very thin, white rind and the inside is very soft. I bought this cheese and it ended up being kept in the refrigerator, which is not a problem. The French say that the older the cheese, the better. Well, all right, right ?! Yeah … When I took the cheese out of the paper it came wrapped, it had a very gray skin. I said GRAY! And everyone got that “how to proceed…” face. As there is no parameter to know if the cheese is damaged or not, because here it smells bad and mold does not mean anything, Dani, Paulo and I tasted it. Honestly, nobody became a fan. Well, Paulo thought it was good (but sometimes I think he is embarrassed to say that the truth is that I had an unfortunate choice) and Dani agreed with me that cheese is not on our list of the best. I found it bland, without personality, without that more acidic footprint of goat’s cheeses or that explosion of flavors from other cheeses I’ve ever eaten here.
But anyway, it didn’t even give me a stomach ache and we are all alive to tell the story! Good weekend for everyone!