« What is my favourite wine region? » Hmmm, that is a question I can’t answer with ease. I have been working in the wine trade for over 20 years and had the privilege to travel to many wine regions across the vinous world. I have walked many vineyards, met countless inspiring vignerons, tasted hundreds of enticing wines. So, I dread answering this question not least because every wine region has its own qualities that translate into wines with personality.
But then I need to answer. I will probably come across as being very traditional in my choice for I opt for the classic wine region that is Bordeaux. « Bordeaux ? but everyone knows Bordeaux ! » I can hear people say. « Are there no other exciting wine regions?». Oh, yes there are plenty of them, believe me.
So, why did I choose Bordeaux ?
Firstly, because I think this wine region is so much more than the stereotypes attached to it. Bordeaux has a lot to offer. I am not referring here to the grand names that tend to be beyond the financial reach of many of us. When I think of Bordeaux as being an exciting wine region, I think of the appellations outside the usual suspects. If we dare go off the beaten tracks we can find some affordable and exquisite wines. They might not have the staying power of their illustrious neighbours, but who is nowadays willing to wait for a decade before starting to think of opening a bottle? It can take a bit of homework to find out what wines to go for in appellations we are not accustomed to, but that is the beauty of buying through independents and wine experts. They have done their homework in unearthing some wine gems.
For many, Bordeaux is a brand name associated with a specific style of wine. But, when enjoying a Bordeaux only few know where the wine actually originates from in the region, and whether the wine is a Merlot or a Cabernet based wine. It is true that the lack of grape precision on the labels does not help understand what is in the glass, but finding out is also what makes the region so interesting. The Bordeaux wine region is home to 65 communal appellations, each one with its own distinctive wine character and terroir. 65 AOC to explore, be impressed with and satisfy our taste buds.
What I also find exciting about Bordeaux is the fact that there is an increasing interest from a younger generation of vignerons to produce wines not only with a better understanding and respect of the environment but also in using varieties that were always part of the region wine DNA but often overlooked. The like of Malbec or Sauvignon Gris are nowadays becoming increasingly used as part of wine blends especially from the right bank.
Bordeaux is versatile in its offering, too. When we think of Bordeaux wines, we think red wines but Bordeaux is also producing white, rosé, sweet, and sparkling wines. The latter category is witnessing a surge of interest amongst consumers. I recently tasted a semillon-sauvignon based Crémant that won me over. Bordeaux is proving, through its range of wines, that it can please every palate and food lover. I remember once attending a Bordeaux wine and food pairing workshop. One pairing was a samosa filled with goat cheese and red onions confit and served with a sweet Bordeaux. That was delicious and awe-inspiring.
With 20 bottles of Bordeaux wines sold every second in the world, I am delighted to know that I am not alone to think Bordeaux wines are on many wine shopping lists and for good reasons.