Chateau Cantenac Brown Margaux dinner at Clos Maggiore, London

Mar 26, 14 Chateau Cantenac Brown Margaux dinner at Clos Maggiore, London

Posted by in Food and Wine, France, restaurants

“The first job of Bordeaux is to be red.” That is a common saying in the region and one that  was repeated to me by Troisièmes Crus Classified Château Cantenac Brown Margaux winemaker Jose Sanfins at dinner the other night. So, why was he making a white wine in Bordeaux? Well, in a nutshell, Jose likes the whites of Sancerre very much and as he was looking around his vineyards, he noticed that the soil was very similar in that it was mostly clay and mineral laden. He decided that he could make a white wine just as well. The result is the Alto de Cantenac Brown, a 90% sauvignon blanc/10% semillon blend. We were at a winemaker’s dinner at Covent Garden restaurant Clos Maggiore and were just about to start on the first course. The Alto was the first wine being highlighted that evening and we were in for a treat as it was the first time the 2012 Alto had been tasted outside the winery. Most Bordeaux blanc is a blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon. The chateau only has 1 hectare planted for the Alto and only produce 8000 bottles a year. It is comprised mostly of sauvignon blanc and aged in used oak barrels which gives it a slightly smokey note. Fresh and balanced with loads of lemon and grapefruit on the nose and palate. It was delicious with the starter of Scottish scallop and salmon tartare. What piqued my interest the most was the double magnum of 1999 Château Cantenac Brown. Who doesn’t like seeing those big bottles on a table. The ’99 was tasting very well with structured tannins,  freshness and a hint of fruit still around with wood/cedar notes. I like savoury wines so this was right up my alley! It was paired with a oven roasted breast of Wood Pigeon from the Royal Windsor Estate (shot on the west side of the estate in case you’re wondering) and this is a wine that really does shine with a well placed...

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Old Vines, New Shoots -2010 Bordeaux

I really didn’t think I was going to make the tasting and dinner at Gauthier Soho after my flight was delayed. I had been in Bordeaux all day at Millesima’s Panorama tasting of the 2009 vintage and my 6:20 flight back to London had been delayed by an hour. Would I make it back in time to get through immigration, catch the Gatwick Express to Victoria and then the Tube to Piccadilly? Well, I was willing to give it a try, especially after the cheeky nap I managed to sneak in in the departure lounge of Bordeaux airport while waiting for my flight. I was in a rush to get to Gauthier as I had been invited by Neil Phillips (The Wine Tipster) to meet a couple of Bordelais winemakers who were, while not exactly trying to modernize Bordeaux, had decided to make their wines a bit more contemporary in style while still maintaining excellent quality at a reasonable price. A tall order to fill but Neil was confident we’d find the wines appealing. An interesting aspect of the evening was that we would not only be trying older vintages of each chateau but each of the winemakers had brought the recently finished 2010’s, giving us the opportunity to try them before anyone else in either the press or trade. En primeur was still a few weeks away, the dinner being in early March and en primeur week being in April. Neil had chosen 3 Bordeaux chateaux, La Dauphine (Fronsac), La Pointe (Pomerol) and Marquis de Terme (Margaux) to showcase their 2010 wines. All three chateaux have undergone extensive refurbishing, replanting and analysis of their vines to produce not only the best wine possible but also making wine that is affordable for the average consumer as well as approachable. The 2010 Chateau de la Dauphine from the Fronsac AOC was a delightfully fresh and intensely fruity wine. The fruit coming out on the mid palate and carrying on for quite some time. Great acidity...

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Visiting Ch. Lascombes and a sneak peek at ’09 and ’10

En primeur is coming up fast in Bordeaux. I don’t know a lot about en primeur, I must confess. I knew of en primeur but it’s only recently that I was able to actually visit Bordeaux and taste en primeur. You’re probably thinking, hang on a minute Denise, how did you taste en primeur 2010? It’s not 2010 en primeur week  yet. At least, I think that’s how it works, I’m still a bit hazy on all that en primeur stuff, really need to brush up (read: learn) French. Well, I was able to jump the gun a bit while visiting Chateau Lascombes, a Grand Cru Classe, 2nd growth in Margaux, a few weeks ago on my trip to Bordeaux with Richard Bampfield, MW. A quick primer on en primeur if your unfamiliar, or, if you know all about it, just skip this paragraph. Basically, en primeur is the practice of wine futures. The wine is sampled in barrel roughly 6 months after going in and based on the tasting, a price is set and sold for the wine before bottling. Bordeux is usually a blend although some Right Bank chateau do make 100% varietals, so the winemakers set out samples of what they believe will be the final blend but it can change depending on how the wine matures in barrel. Every year in March, the Bordelais invite the wine trade and press to taste the en primeur wines.     Prior to the tasting,we got a grand tour of the chateau, complete with their gravity flow fermentation tanks, their uber-cool cellar with neon blue lights and we even got a peek at the steam cleaning process used to clean out used barrels. The chateau was bought in 2001 by an investment fund, Colony Capital, which enabled the chateau to modernize, replant and generally improved the quality of the wine. Michel Rolland is their wine consultant and Delphine Barboux is the winemaker or officially titled, Quality Control Manager. It was she who tasted...

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