Maynards Wine Blog

Along the Water

Bordeaux is the largest fine-wine producing region on the planet. Over 700 million bottles of wine are produced there each year. Situated on the Gironde river, with the Atlantic Ocean to the west, it is criss-crossed with small streams. The name Bordeaux derives from au bord de l’eau, which means along the water. More than 80 percent of the wine made here is red. Most red wines are blended from five grapes. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. White wines are almost always blends as well. The white grapes used are: Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle and Ugni Blanc. The quality ranges from simple everyday table wines to some of the most expensive, complex and extraordinary wines in the world.

Bordeaux is divided into many subregions. The primary ones, starting on the left bank of the Gironde and moving south in a big U to end up on the right bank are: Medoc  and Haut-Medoc, Graves, Sauternes, Barsac, St Emilion and Pomerol. Each region has its own system of classification, basically denoting quality based on terms like Premier Grand Cru, Grand Cru, Deuxiemes Cru, Troisiemes Cru, Quatiemes Cru and Cinqiemes Cru. Interesting to note that this only represents a tiny portion of the wines made, the rest  are considered Cru Bourgeois. What does all this mean to the average wine drinker? Not too much. If you have the money to drink first or second growth Bordeaux, it will set you back quite a bit of money, and probably would be a wonderful experience, if you could find one to buy. The top wines are very limited production and most are spoken for by collectors before release.  For the rest of us, there are some wonderful and delicious wines to be had that are accessible to those with limited budgets.

Bordeaux is also the home to one of the best sweet wines in the world, Sauternes. The Semillon grape is used for these wines, as it is very susceptible to Botrytis cinerea, the beneficial mold (known as noble rot) that must occur for Sauternes to be created.

“He who aspires to be a serious wine drinker must drink claret.”

— Samuel Johnson (“claret” is the British term for red Bordeaux)

Our White Wine of the Month for August is Eric Chevalier  2013 Chardonnay from the Loire Valley, this unoaked version is similar in style to a Chablis, tart, with fresh apple fruit, delicious!

Our Red Wine of the Month is Tenuta la Pergola, Vino Rosso “Il Goccetto” from Monferrato, Peidmont, Italy. This is a great, light summer red, with cherry, lavender and cinnamon spice, featuring  Brachetto and Croatina grapes.

Wine Club members come in and get your bottles early, before they’re gone.


Steve Berger

Sommelier, Maynards Market and Kitchen