I’m learning about Bordeaux, a big piece of my wine puzzle that’s been missing since I began my wine journey in 1993. When one moves from a state like Maine to California, California wines just take over, especially if you make California wine your business and not a hobby. [Do you know that Maine is also a province in France? This is why so many of us in Maine have French DNA.]

California’s the natural learning curve, when you’re living here. But, wines from Bordeaux? It’s definitely a “later” thing. And, here I am, learning, thanks to a Millesima Wine Merchant‘s promotion. It inspired me to learn, as just an educational endeavor, for the sake of personal knowledge. My crash courses haven’t been to become a MS, MW, or any other credentials, that would have more focus on world wine products… Although I do have my PR credential.

Bordeaux ~ The Aquitaine Region

Who knew it was interchangeable ~ Bordeaux and Aquitaine? Certainly not me. Lesson 1 for today.

Bordeaux ~ The Aquitaine Region is the largest fine wine vineyard area in the world. It falls on the 45th Parallel.

SIDEBAR: When working with Oak Knoll Winery and wondering where it placed on the globe, I found that it, too is on the 45th Parallel. Is it any wonder that Oregon Pinot Gris is also so delicious? What an interesting position to be in; half way from the equator half way from the tip of the North Pole. One would think that this is a perfect growing area for grapes, for balanced acidity and slow ripening… One would think, if one was studying viticulture, and so it made perfect sense to me to advocate for Oregon Pinot Gris. What a great project, so I asked Jose to build a site for Oregon Pinot Gris, and we still advocate for it. People want to know more about Oregon Pinot Gris; so we’re the Pro Bono crew, because it’s the right thing to do.

Onto the Aquitaine…

This region is blessed with temperate winters. It has long, warm summers, with cooling coastal breezes and fog from intersecting rivers; and for some areas, the Atlantic Ocean. This makes for ideal grape growing conditions, given their excellent terroir, micro-climates, and the unique history of the Aquitaine region. Bordeaux set the standard for fine wine a very long time ago. For more info, click on this link: The Bordeaux 1855 Classification.

Aquitaine geography is a region placed in the southwestern corner of the France and is world-renown for its Bordeaux wines.

In the northern region, Dordogne is hillier. Upstream from the Dordogne region (department), the hills get higher and the valley gets deeper. This region has picturesque villages, which offer gourmet cuisine and many historic sites worth visiting. The south of Aquitaine also has visual attractions, like being on the Atlantic Ocean Coastline. It has beautiful beaches; the Bay of Arcachon, for example; and lovely coastal villages. From Arcachon Bay, one only has to drive northeast to visit historic Bordeaux chateaux. I can only imagine the glorious roadways, since I’ve not been to France, yet.

[Copyright: azgek / 123RF Stock Photo ~ Purchased Photo]

Where I would Like to Go ~ Left Bank Châteaux

  1.  Château Margaux
    • I’ve been lusting after a 1945, what can I tell you… for years… (This “lusting” link takes us back to my first public lust, published in 2009.)
    • A Sauvignon Blank would also be a major treat, since this is the white wine of Bordeaux. I’ve had Cabernet Sauvignon from all over the world, but not one from France. Imaginer!
  2. Château Haut-Bion
    • Interesting history, besides excellent and consistent wines.
    • The Château Haut-Brion estate dates back to April 1525. Jean de Pontac married Jeanne de Bellon, the daughter of the mayor of Libourne and Lord of Hault-Brion. Jeanne had a dowry, including the land. In 1533, Jean de Pontac bought the title to the domain of Haut-Brion. Construction of the château begun in 1549.
    • I want to feel history, put my hand against the outside wall and just feel it.
  3. Château Latour
    • This one is painful, but is still one that I would like to go full circle with.
    • Winemaker Denis Malbec was born at Latour, which means that he not only learned to walk in between the barrels and bike in the vines, but he also learned vineyard and winery management early on with his father, Jean-Noel Malbec. Jean-Noel was also born at Latour, working there for 47 years. His tenure was from 1947 to 1994. Jean-Noel was Cellar Master from 1969 to 1994; and his grandfather was Camille Malbec, who worked in the vineyard from the 1920s, until the end of the 1970s. He started at Château Latour as one of the cellar workers in 1993 and took the position as Enologist and Cellar Master at Château Latour in 1994 and made the vintages from 1994 to 1999.
    • Denis came to the US and made a great name for himself.
    • DECANTER: Napa Valley recoiled in horror last weekend after it emerged that Pauillac-born, consultant winemaker Denis Malbec had been killed in a car accident at the age of 46.
    • Years ago, I got to write a biography for Denis, for Respite Wines. I want to see where he rode his childhood bike through the vines, and where he stood on the river’s edge as a kid. I’ll raise a glass of wine to his vivid spirit.
  4. Château Lafite-Rothschild
    • Let the history lesson begin…
    • The Rothschild dynasty: In the late 18th century, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, a merchant in the Frankfurt ghetto, had five sons, which were to all go into different directions: Salomon went to Vienna, Nathaniel to London, Carl to Naples and James to Paris, and Amschel Junior remained at his father’s side in Frankfurt.
    • In 1922, Philippe de Rothschild, at the age of 22 and the youngest son of Baron Henri and great-grandson of Baron Nathaniel, took the destiny of the estate in hand.
    • 1930 was the launch of mythical Mouton Cadet wines.
  5. Château Mouton Rothchild
    • Let the history lesson continue…
    • Baroness Philippine Mathilde Camille de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi were great friends. She was the only daughter of the vintner Baron Philippe de Rothschild, a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty. I was only one degree of separation. For me personally, Robert Mondavi was a great boss, a real inspiration. Together Mathilde Camille and Robert Mondavi had a dream and called it Opus One. Working for Mondavi meant that I could also visit Opus One as an insider, and I did. I’d now love to see where the Baroness spent her days in France.
    • The day I walked into Opus One’s wine cellar and saw every barrel in such a pristine condition, stained with wine in the center of the barrels (only) with their glass bungs… Ah… It simply took my breath away.
    • Also, for this one… as for all others… It’s all about the wines and the passions behind each wine character.

It’s all about the greatness and I dare to dream…

Credit to Millesima for inspiring me to learn about Bordeaux.