Blog: Bar Boulud Bordeaux Tasting
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Bordeaux wines are typically known for their exceptional expressions of terroir, their significantly strict and impressive classifications, and their high price. Michael Madrigale, head sommelier at Bar Boulud, Épicerie and Boulud Sud took us on a journey through some of the region’s lesser known wines during an intimate and exclusive tasting on Thursday afternoon inside Bar Boulud’s cozy wine cellar. Our willingness to move east of the Médoc was rewarded with bottles of great diversity and even greater value. We sampled three whites and five reds, all under $25 (per bottle!), for a wide array of palettes. Madrigale, a Planet Bordeaux Ambassador, explained that due to changing markets, many Bordeaux winemakers outside the Médoc have been producing great wines at extremely affordable price points – great news for those who want to enjoy the best of the region without breaking the bank.
Foremost in displaying the classic characteristics of the region was Château Mirambeau Papin (2010) Bordeaux Supérior Rouge at $25, with an even blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. If you want to put a Bordeaux on your table, this one will do well to hold up against the meatiest of entrees and meekest of budgets. We also enjoyed Château L’Isle Fort (2010) Bordeaux Supérior Rouge ($16.99) which similarly highlighted the balance that Cabernet Sauvignon grapes gave to the juicy, red fruit Merlot. Madrigale explained that 2010 was an especially warm season, lending to the Cabernet Sauvignon’s ability to give the wine a bit of a backbone, so keep an eye out for Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blends from this vintage. On the lightest side of the reds, a 90% Merlot Bordeaux Rouge from Château de Camarsac (2012) appeals to those looking for something to drink all day, with or without food. Somewhere in the middle was Château Turcaud’s 2013 Bordeaux Rouge ($12), that displayed the lightest hint of oak and gentle tannins while maintaining maximum drinkability. This would make for a great Thanksgiving wine, versatile in pairing and light enough to drink through a football game without contributing to any additional sleepiness.
On the whites’ side, the Bordeaux Blanc from Château Lamothe de Haux (2014) displayed the distinctive qualities of the soil of the region (limestone, clay) uninterrupted by any oak. In fact, all three whites were aged in steel, allowing for a quick turnaround time by the vineyards and an approachable drink for consumers. The earthiness paired nicely with a tiny cube of mushroom flan that offered just enough acidity to cut through the richness of the bite. The other whites were on the greener, more tropical side of things- dangerously sippable, especially when you can stock up on bottles averaging $12. Perfect for pairing with oysters (which you can afford to buy now that your wine costs only $11), Augey 2014 Bordeaux Blanc‘s short turnaround in production is reflected in its crisp, citrusy flavors unhindered by oak or too much sweetness. Château La Freynelle’s 2013 Bordeaux Blanc is almost an even blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon and is easy to imagine balancing out a spicy dish or matching up against a hearty, bright salad.
The major takeaway from Thursday’s affair was that Bordeaux has far more to offer than wines simply utilized for splurges and collections. Many winemakers are moving away from typical expectations to produce interesting, new and affordable blends that invite all sorts of palettes without betraying its beloved and celebrated terroir. It’s also exciting and important to note that along with the winemakers, sommeliers like Madrigale are willing to introduce wines along the entire spectrum of accessibility, inviting new appreciators into the very old wine world of Bordeaux.
- Mallory Sullivan