Two Bordeaux wines that didn't get the memo
Arbo Malbec 2016, Côtes de Bordeaux Malbec
Château George 7, 2018, Fronsac
One of the very first wine facts I learnt is that Bordeaux is all about blending; that is, Bordeaux is (mostly) a blend of grape varieties and / or vineyards.
These two wines clearly didn't get the memo.
The main reason for blending is because of the risks associated with Bordeaux's marginal climate; in any given year, different grapes and plots will ripen to varying degrees, so in a cooler year you blend earlier ripening grapes from warmer vineyards to add some ripe plushness to the wine.
Making a varietal Bordeaux from a single grape variety is therefore a high-risk approach.
Malbec grows the length of France's Atlantic seaboard; as Côt in the Loire, an occasional blending grape in Bordeaux, star of the show in Cahors and bit-player in Languedoc.
In the 1950s, after a run of cold winters, Bordeaux winemakers switched en masse from the heat-loving, beefy Malbec to Merlot, a lighter but earlier-ripening and therefore economically more reliable variety. Both varieties are permitted in Bordeaux, but whereas Merlot has gone on to become the most-widely planted grape in the region, Malbec has declined to less than 1% of vines.
The first of these wines is a varietal Malbec, a grape more associated with Cahors or Argentina. The second is a 100% Merlot from a small, 2-hectare parcel of land.
Arbo Malbec 2016, Côtes de Bordeaux Malbec (£13.99 Avery’s) floral with juicy dark plum, blueberry, and cassis; ripe and juicy with very gentle tannins. Reminiscent of a fresher style of Cahors.
Match with sausages or a plate of salami and cheese.
Château George 7, 2018, Fronsac (£19, Davy’s Wine Merchants) 100% Merlot, classic Bordeaux nose of cherries and spice; youthful yet integrated and approachable, with juicy ripe cherry, kirsch and blackberry fruit, herbaceous rubbed sage, freshness and very fine tannins. Pure, focused, harmonious and supple.
Drinking nicely now and will improve with cellaring.
Match with plain roast red meat, herby sausages or roast chicken.