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The Clarets Of Bordeaux

Red wines with a distinguished history.

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Courtesy of Skyview Wine & Spirits
Courtesy of Skyview Wine & Spirits

Thanks to the British, the world of fine wine is firmly anchored to the love of claret. A derivative of the Latin word for “clear,” the word “claret” used to refer to the pale, rosé-like color of the wines produced in Bordeaux back in the 14th and 15th centuries. Even though Bordeaux eventually evolved into a darker, deeper wine over the centuries, the British wine trade —and its highbrow clientele — adopted the term still refers to the wines of Bordeaux generally, as well as to wines styled after Bordeaux. It’s even a legally protected trade name within the European Union.

Bordeaux is France’s largest wine producing region, with over 8,500 producers — chateaux — releasing about 700 million bottles each year. It’s the home of some of the world’s most prestigious vineyards, including the legendary “First Growths” of Lafite Rothschild, Margaux, Latour, Haut-Brion and Mouton-Rothschild as well as the superlative dessert wine created at Chateau d’Yquem.

Bordeaux’s chief geographic features are the Garonne and Dordogne rivers that flow into the Gironde estuary. Over 50 appellations are found on either the “Right Bank” (north of the Dordogne), the “Left Bank” (west and south of the Garronne) or “Entre-deux-mers,” in the area between the two rivers. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Carmenre are the only legally permitted red grapes in Bordeaux and are usually blended together to create a specific “house” style. As a general rule, Cabernet Sauvignon is the primary grape in the Left Bank, while Merlot is predominant in the Right.

The quality of Bordeaux wines can range from simple, cheap plonk to extraordinarily delicious—and extremely expensive—bottles. It’s easy to fall in love with quality Bordeaux wines. A great kosher example from the Medoc appellation is the Chateau de Rollan of 2010, which opens with black currant, earth and cedar aromas. A full-bodied, elegant effort, its soft tannin provide a smooth background for the layers of plum, coffee and spice that extend throughout the lengthy finish.

Chateau de Rollan of 2010 is available at Skyview Wine & Spirits

Last Update:

04/29/2014 - 11:09

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