The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)
Enjoying a taste of sunshine with the black grapes of Bordeaux
Wines from the classic French region are known around the world. Carol Brown selects some of her favourites to spice up your mealtimes
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot are the key black varieties of the classic French region of Bordeaux. They are often blended together to produce the final wine and the proportions will depend on the vineyard location and the style of the wine being produced.
As a general rule, the more tannic blackcurrant-led Cabernet Sauvignon dominates on the “left bank” in areas such as Medoc and Graves while the softer plum and bramble character of Merlot pushes forward in “right bank” wines like Pomerol and St Emilion. Merlot is also the main or sole ingredient in wines destined for earlier drinking.
Cabernet Franc came first and at some point in wine history crossed with Sauvignon Blanc to create Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s also a parent of Merlot. Cabernet Franc gives perfume, raspberries, dark berries and blackcurrant leaf to a blend.
Further north in the Loire Valley, Cabernet Franc takes centre stage in appellations such as Chinon and Bourgueil producing mid-weight fragranced red wines. Outside of Bordeaux, this trio of varieties have travelled to wine regions around the world that share similar climates.
ZUCCARDI ‘BRAZOS LOS ANDES’ CABERNET FRANC 2020, VALLE DE UCO, ARGENTINA
There is a flinty edge to the blackcurrant and blueberry scents. It’s mid-weight and juicy and there is a freshness, smoothness and elegance to the summer pudding flavours. £9.50, Co-op.
SANTA MAGDALENA, BALADUZZI, 2020, VALLE DEL MAULE, CHILE
This is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot and spends 12 months in oak. There’s a purity of fruit on the sniff, think blackcurrants and raspberry coulis with eucalypt and herb touches. Full and juicy with balanced tannins and a freshness of acidity, it’s an easy drinking style. £10.99, laithwaites.co.uk
ERRAZURIZ MAX CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2018, VALLE DE ACONCAGUA, CHILE
The scents are all about vibrant summer berries, mocha, blueberries and blackcurrants. It’s rich and full bodied with savoury, toasty, smoky notes (from 12 months in French oak). The dark berry fruit is defined and there is a lift of acidity. I can vouch for it alongside beef stroganoff! £13, Ocado, Majestic, Waitrose.
THE SOCIETY’S CLARET 2020, BORDEAUX, FRANCE
A historical name and protected under EU law, the term claret can be used to indicate a red wine from Bordeaux. Mainly Merlot, this medium bodied, unoaked example is perfumed with raspberry, bramble and plum. It’s soft, well balanced with red cherry and
Victoria plum notes and is designed for drinking young. £6.95, thewinesociety.
TOINON MERLOT 2020, BORDEAUX, FRANCE
This is 100% Merlot grown on limestone soils across the Dordogne River from St Emilion. A glassful of ripe dark berries, plums, brambles and spice on the sniff, in the mouth the dark berries are vibrant with black cherries. It’s well balanced with soft tannins and very drinkable.
L’EPIPHANIE DE MARGAUX 2019, BORDEAUX, FRANCE
There’s so much going on with classic Bordeaux tobacco and cigar box scents, black cherry, black olive and spice. A
Cabernet-based blend, it’s still young so the tannins are structured but ripe giving a lovely texture to the red berry and black cherry notes. While you could let this one sleep for a while, it would be happy alongside a steak or roast beef (medium rare!). £35, laithwaites.co.uk
CHATEAU POTENSAC, MEDOC,2005, BORDEAUX, FRANCE
Speaking of letting wines sleep, this one had been slumbering for a while until Sunday steak night seemed a good enough excuse to pull the cork. The boldness of blackcurrant is still there with plum and a fresh tobacco edge. Tannins have mellowed but still give a backbone while brambles mingle with liquorice to give a savoury edge.
While you might not instantly be able to get your hands on the 2005 vintage, merchants such as Justerini and Brooks, Lay and Wheeler and Berry Bros and Rudd all list more recent vintages.
AND NOW FOR A SCOTTISH CIDER!
Seidear is produced by Christian Stolte at the Wee Scottish Cider company at his cidery in Maryculter using apples from walled gardens in the north-east of Scotland. The bubble is imparted by using bottle fermentation, the same way as champagne.
It’s deep gold in colour with plenty of tiny bubbles with scents of ripe red apples, apple crumble and a floral edge. The finish is effervescent and lingering.
Available at selected local restaurants and retail outlets, you can find out more at seidear.com
z Live, in-person wine tastings are back with the return of Aberdeen Wine Appreciators and also Carol’s new Saturday afternoon workshops. Find out more at wineuncorkededucation. co.uk or email her at carol@ wineuncorkededucation.co.uk