Bordeaux Rose

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Summer’s here and it’s time to think about…Bordeaux? Say what? Well, let me tell you, Bordeaux is not all about the classed growths anymore. In fact, with the pricing frenzy that is accompanying the endless accolades for the great 2009 Bordeaux, I would say that Bordeaux is more about its undiscovered charms than ever before.

Would you believe that Bordeaux produces great sparkling wines, roses, and deliciously refreshing whites? It’s a fact! The truth is that Bordeaux produces a huge range of wines, many of which are great values. It’s easy to get obsessed with the classed growths (I’ve been there), and once you’ve done that, it’s all too easy to forget how much there is to love about Bordeaux.

I was fortunate to have visited Bordeaux last month. I was surprised by many things (the city of Bordeaux itself is absolutely enchanting!) -- chief among them was how delicious the whites and roses were, and how ideally suited they are for summer enjoyment. Not only were these wines refreshing, distinct and succulent, they were easy on the wallet, too. In short, they're a perfect way to keep Bordeaux on the menu all summer long!
Bordeaux, like many regions, can be broken down into red wines (in Bordeaux’s case, those based on Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon), white wines (based on Sauvignon Blanc or Semillon), the great white sweet wines, and everything else. I’m looking forward to delving into the details of some of the more well-known Bordeaux wines soon, but today I would love to just focus on the roses.

A few words on that "everything else" front before we get started. This includes sparkling wines, Cremant de Bordeaux, Bordeaux rosés (which are really delicious and completely over-looked by so many consumers), and Bordeaux Clairet -- a delightful style of wine.

As many of you already know, Bordeaux has been known in England as Claret for centuries. This famous moniker is derived from the French Clairet, a style of red wine that produced something very different from today’s Bordeaux. In fact, if you are lucky you might be able to track down some Clairet, a dark, rich rosé-styled wine that is about as much fun as a bottle of wine has any right to be. It’s an ideal summer red; serve it with a slight chill, and enjoy it for its exuberant fruit and playful texture.

While Clairet is ideally suited to express these lovely and endearing qualities, sometimes it’s not easy to find. In fact, when I returned from my recent trip to Bordeaux, I didn’t fill my suitcase with Classed growths, I filled it with Clairet!

Though Clairet may be hard to come by, the delicious roses of Bordeaux are readily available, and more are arriving almost weekly. These are perfect wines to quench our summer thirst and pair with our favorite summer fare.

Bordeaux rose can be made over the entire Bordeaux region and is based on the classic Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. The truth is many, if not most, Bordeaux rosés tend to have a core of Merlot, which contributes a rich fruitiness to the wine. Cabernet Sauvignon also is a major component in Bordeaux roses, just as it is with the great reds. In its rose guise it exchanges its formidable tannin for a lovely fruitiness with a fine savory edge. Rose for grown-ups!

No matter which Bordeaux rose your try, you can rest assured that you’re in for refreshment, as these fine wines offer up fresh and fruity tones layered with the subtle savory edge the sets Bordeaux apart. These certainly are great wines on their own but when paired with the right food they absolutely come alive.

I love the classic pairing of lamb and red Bordeaux, so it’s no surprise that this lightened-up lamb dish would be ideal for pairing with Bordeaux rose. If you're not feeling like lamb, then try some sautéed mushrooms (ideally porcini) served with some crusty French bread and a touch of Saint Marcellin cheese!

Check out page 2 for the recipes.


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