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Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Another Side of Bordeaux - Rosé and Fizz

 A tasting of fizz, pinks and pink fizz from Bordeaux

Bordeaux is one of the largest and most varied wine regions in France; beyond the illustrious classed growths of famous chateaux, it makes pretty much every type of table wine at a range of price points.

This tasting, led by Lydia Harrison MW, demonstrated that Bordeaux can do rosé and crémant pretty much as well as any other area in France.

She summed up Bordeaux fizz as less expensive than Champagne and not yet aspiring to be at the level of Champagne in terms of price or quality at the top end. A good Bordeaux fizz, such as the ones here, will beat many a similarly-priced Champagne.

Calvet Crémant de Bordeaux, 2018 (£10)

Calvet Crémant de Bordeaux Brut | Official website Bordeaux.com

Crémant is just 1% of production in Bordeaux, but growing rapidly, in part on the back of the popularity of Prosecco. Like Prosecco, Crémant de Bordeaux is slightly riper with more fruit and less autolysis given its shorter secondary fermentation period, making it inexpensive to produce and an easy-drinking fizz.

Crémant blanc makes up just over two thirds of production in Bordeaux and it can be made from a range of grapes, including both white and black-skinned varieties.

Calvet is a large regional producer; making good, typical and inexpensive wines. This crémant is a blend of Semillon and Cab Franc.

It has musky melonskin aromas, florality, lively acidity without being austere, rounded fruit with lemon, sherbet and white peach flavours as well as secondary pastry-brioche flavours.

If you want to know what a Bordeaux crémant  should be like, this is as good a starting place as any.

Calvet Crémant de Bordeaux Rosé, 2017 (£12.99)

Calvet Crémant de Bordeaux Rosé | Official website Bordeaux.com

Cremant rosé is just under a third of production, but also growing rapidly. It must be made from black grapes only and in this case the blend is Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

This is a 2017 Brut, so fully dry and with a little more age than the crémant. It is slightly more expensive and you can feel the step-up in quality; it is a more complex and serious wine.

The grapes undergo a short cold soak maceration to give a very pale pink colour and a cool fermentation to preserve the fruit aromas. It gets slightly longer aging to give it more sophistication.

There are fresh, elegant redcurrant fruits, a leesy-creamy texture, fresh red summer berries, florality and some pastry notes.

Château de Bonhoste Rosé NV, Crémant de Bordeaux (£15.85) 

Château de Bonhoste Rosé | Official website Bordeaux.com

The final pink fizz was a further step-up in terms of quality; the property is run by a 5th-generation brother-and-sister team who, as well as winemaking, also offer accommodation (in giant wine barrels), run escape-room games in their cellar and have an HVE sustainability certification.

It is a right-bank blend of 70% Cabernet Franc and 30% Merlot; it is darker, more weighty and complex with red fruits, redcurrant, cranberry and red plum aromas, florality and summer-berry compote and a toasty creaminess.

The higher quality here comes from lower yields and more rigorous selection of premium grapes

It is fresh enough for an aperitif, but weighty enough to stand up to party food and canapés.

Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Rosé (£8)

Taste the Difference Bordeaux Rosé | Official website Bordeaux.com

Rosé is 4% of production in Bordeaux.

This wine is 100% Merlot, with a cool fermentation to retain the fruit and a small amount of residual sugar for easy-drinking. It has a screwcap to preserve freshness and to make it easy to use as a picnic wine.

It is very pale with strawberry-raspberry summer fruits and some green herbs.

It can match with lighter foods such as sushi or grilled chilled and the residual sugar means it will work well with spicy foods.

Château Tour De Mirambeau, Reserve Rosé 2019 (£12.40)

Château Tour De Mirambeau | Official website Bordeaux.com

Based just the other side of the river from St Emilion in the Entre Deux Mers region, this is a family-run firm with five chateaux; high-density planting on good soils leads to lower yields and greater concentration.

The winemaking approach is sustainable, with trees and hedges planted as well as maintaining beehives to enhance the local ecosystem and giving healthier vines.

The property also practices biodynamics, said to result in a lower pH and therefore higher acidity.

This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon; it is textured, creamy and mineral with delicate yet vibrant red fruits and white pepper. The red-plum fruit is fresh with good structure and intensity; the Cabernet gives aromas of capsicum and tomato leaf.

This is a good cooler-weather rosé that can handle food, such as soft cheese, quiche or cold cuts.

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