Saturday, May 1, 2010

{ Blending + Bordeaux + "Thinking, Eating and Drinking" Part 3 }

Week three, mid-point of our “Thinking, Eating and Drinking” class and the adventure takes us to Bordeaux. Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in southwest France, where Bordeaux wines are produced. Some are simple everyday table wines and others among the most expensive and prestigious wines in the world. Bordeaux blends are amalgamation of the classic red wine grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot, or the classic white wine grapes Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

What does “Thinking, Eating and Drinking” have in common with Bordeaux? They are both analogous and parallel in theory and reality. Bordeaux essentially means a blending. When we think, we blend words and thoughts together. Eating is blending of unique food ingredients and flavors, from simple to complex. Drinking wine is an intricate experience of tasting and smelling flavors that can transcend you from a basket full of ripe cherries to a cedar plank. When your senses (smell, taste, sight, feel, sound) are alive and you pay attention to the details, the experience goes to the next level. Hence – thinking begins!

The experience of sharing a meal together along with great wine and conversation is the cornerstone of life. We jumped into the kitchen this week with Suzanne Drexhage to have hands on experience with preparing our dinner. As in the past few weeks, we have had a small tasting with each wine, tonight it was a full meal. Wine was flowing and there were eight wines to taste and evaluate. While in the kitchen, we enjoyed two white Bordeaux wines. Chateau La Rame is 70% Semillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Grown in clay, limestone soil, this wine has a bright acidity and a grassy quality. Green apple, lemon sherbet and a hint of grapefruit stand out on the palate and nose. Chateau Du Seuil Blanc was poured side by side with the first wine to experience the variances. This white Bordeaux, which was aged in 90% neutral wood and 10% new wood, gave it just a hint of oak without over powering the wine. We paired this with a creamy gruyere potato gratin that just danced on your palate and was a bite of heaven.

Let the heart of Bordeaux wine begin to flow – the classic red. Chateau La Coustarelle Cahors from the west coast of France has an herbaceous quality along with hints of melted chocolate. A bright ruby color with hints of blackberry and raspberry flavors, this wine is 90% malbac and 10% tannat. This wine paired wonderfully with the flap steak accompanied by a handmade salsa verde. Flap steak is the portion of meat that extends down from T-bone and porterhouse steaks. Beautifully prepared in a cast iron skillet on the stove with just a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, it was finished in the oven. Wonderfully tender and flavorful.

We did stray a bit from Bordeaux and visited Chile with a 2007 Calcu. It is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Carmenère, and 15% Cabernet Franc. This wine has ripe tannins along with a fresh acidity and undertones of mineral notes. Bright, peppery and spicy are quite apparent. With our meal, we enjoyed sautéed rainbow chard with hints of garlic and olive oil. The chard was trimmed, cut and blanched prior to cooking – a great tip for easy entertaining. Let’s jump back to Bordeaux – okay perhaps flying there might be quicker. One of the most interesting wines of the evening was the Chateau de Falfas “Les Demoiselles”. The first initial sniff is a bit overwhelming and a bit gamey. It is a blend of 75% merlot and 25% cabernet sauvignon. As the wine opens up, the flavors had red plum and green olive notes. It is bright, juicy, tannic and certainly paired well with the flap steak by mellowing the fat and rounding out the experience.

Winding down the evening, we enjoyed Chateau de Praza Minervois, which was similar to the Corbieres we tasted in week one of the series. This wine had quite an array of flavors and aromas including: cinnamon, plums, prunes, nutmeg, hints of chocolate and a subtle herbaceous quality. Chad Arnold saved the best for last – Kathryn Kennedy Lateral. Situated in Saratoga, Lateral is encouraged by the famous wines of the St-Emilion district of Bordeaux. It is a true meritage with a blending of 54% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot and 6%t Malbec. It was well-balanced, medium bodied wine that had hints of floral, fennel, cedar and smokiness. If you had to describe this wine in one word – “Coco- Cayenne” – okay that is two words per se, but it nails the entire tasting experience.

As with all good things, the evening came to an end. We enjoyed a magnificent meal together, stimulating conversation, delicious food and interesting wines. Can't wait for week four and continue to share my experience with all of you.


  1. Interesting class. I have been following since the beginning - look forward to week #4.

  2. Thank you for the info on Bordeaux's. I love learning about wine.


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