As many of you know, the world of wine is complex and can be difficult to navigate. You often find yourself asking a lot of questions. What differentiates a wine from Italy and France? What flavors should I look for in a white? What type of red wine is the best one for me?
That’s why we at The Manual like to take some time to simplify the wine world for you. Today we’ll be talking about Bordeaux and how you can find one of France’s most famous wines elsewhere in the world.
The history of Bordeaux wine is extensive, but basically all you have to know is that Bordeaux is perhaps the most popular and well-loved wine in the world. That comes mainly from the fact that the Bordeaux region of France is ideal for growing grapes. Between the calcium-rich soil and the Gulf Stream warmed air, grape vines flourish in the area.
Bordeaux is actually composed of a blend of a few different grape varietals. The main components are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. But you will also find Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Bordeaux is broken up into Left Bank and Right Bank wines, which refers to which side of the Gironde estuary (which cuts through the region) the wine was made on. Left Bank wines have more Cabernet Sauvignon, while Right Bank wines are dominated by Merlot. As long as a wine is made of a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (and preferably one or two more of the grape varietals) it can be considered to be a “Bordeaux Blend.”
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A wine like South Africa’s 2012 Mulderbosch Faithful Hound is one such Bordeaux Blend. It is made of 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Cabernet Franc, 21% Merlot, 13% Malbec and 10% Petit Verdot. This is an immensely satisfying wine upon the first sip—in fact, you may even be tempted to take a healthy tipple. Wines are usually described as having notes of various berries, but you can really taste a balanced fruit flavor to the Faithful Hound. There are definitely aspects of black cherry and even a bit of raspberry. It’s nothing too sweet, though. This is a wine that is meant to be quaffed and should be on hand at your next party.
The 2010 Avignonesi Desiderio is from Italy, so it is more in line with the “Old World” wine tradition of France. The Avignonesi would definitely be considered a Right Bank wine—it is made of an 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon blend. There is a stronger, certainly more alcoholic taste to the Avignonesi. It is, for a lack of a better word, a rich tasting wine. Aged in French oak barrels, the finish is smooth with just a bit of spice at the very end. The bottle’s label features a black and white illustration of a cow, which tells you all you need to know—this is a wine that would go great with steak or any other red meat.
There you have it: just a bit of wine education from your friends here at The Manual. You know have the knowledge of Bordeaux to show off at your next dinner party, on your next date or just at your local wine store when you want to prove that the guy behind the counter isn’t so smart.