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The vineyard of Bordeaux covers about 110,000 hectares and brings together more than 6,000 winemakers. And this vast area is used not only for the cultivation of red grape varieties and the production of red wines. Although it is thanks to them that Bordeaux has become one of the most famous and prestigious vineyards.
Firstly, the region also produces white wines, dry and sweet, with their own appellations. Secondly, Bordeaux winemakers are not afraid to experiment with varieties that go beyond the appellation. Such wines are entitled only to the most common name – Vin de France (Wine of France), but tasting them is quite curious.
Moreover, a winemaker can lose the right to the name Bordeaux or one of its appellations (but not to the detriment of the quality of the wine) not only because he use varieties that are not allowed by the rules of the appellation, but also if he produces white wines in a territory intended only for reds.
One such example is the right bank appellations of Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac. Previously, white varieties grew on this territory (and the terroir was and remains more than suitable for them) and white wines were produced, but now this appellation is reserved is only for red wines, and whites can be called not Fronsac Blanc, but Bordeaux Blanc, i.e. refer to a broader and more general term.
The same applies to the Saint-Emilion appellation on the right bank and the Médoc on the left.
In this article I will talk about a small family Château Petit Fombrauge, which produces red wines of the Saint-Emilion Grand Cru appellation. The surface of vineyards of the Château accounts only 5 hectares (its main cuvée is produced from 2.5 ha), to which are added 9 hectares of the Castillon-Côtes de Bordeaux appellation and only 0.85 ha of white varieties. Grapes, both red and white, grow on the classic terroir of Saint-Emilion – clay-calcareous soils. The set of red varieties is also classic – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. But white ones are very original: Chardonnay, Colombard and Roussanne instead of the traditional for Bordeaux Blanc Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle.
It is this unusual white wine that will be discussed in the article.
Tasting: Blanc de Petit Fombrauge
Of the three varieties that make up the assemblage, only Colombard is allowed in the appellation “Bordeaux Blanc”, i.e. “White Bordeaux” (and in some sub-regions). Chardonnay is a Burgundy variety, which, except in its homeland, is also used in white still and sparkling wines of the Loire Valley and the south of France. Roussanne is a variety from the Rhone Valley, which is included in, for example, the appellation Saint-Joseph in white, as well as in the white wines of Provence. Each of the varieties brings original and typical notes to the organoleptic profile of the white wine of Petit Fombrauge, which are clearly distinguishable during tasting.
Color: pale lemon
Aroma: medium (+) intensity, with an unusual bouquet for white Bordeaux, from three varieties atypical for this . The Colombard variety gives the bouquet hints of lemon, lemon peel, green apple and fresh grass, the Roussanne variety adds floral notes of acacia, peach, wild flowers and stone fruit (yellow plum, white peach). Barrel-vinified Chardonnay contributes spice and light sweetness to the bouquet
Taste: dry wine with high acidity (given by Colombard) and medium body (given by Roussanne and Chardonnay), medium alcohol, medium (+) intensity of flavors and oily texture. The taste is dominated by fruit notes: citrus (lemon, lemon peel) and peach with a slight floral note. The aftertaste is medium / medium (+), due to the concentration that the Roussanne variety gives to the wine.
Overall impression and quality assessment: a good wine, original for the Saint-Emilion appellation in terms of both its color and assemblage. Elegant, delicate, summer drink, whose profile allows you to combine with it a variety of dishes. However, its body with its oily texture slightly lacks concentration of the bouquet and juiciness. The taste in the attack (the first sensation when tasting) is quite expressive, but the middle seems empty, with dominant acidity.
BLICE quality assessment
Balance – in general, a harmonious combination of original for Bordeaux grape varieties in a bouquet of aromas, but there is some lack of concentration in the middle of palate.
Length of finish – quite long, despite the lightness of the middle of the taste, with a pleasant acidity
Intensity – delicate aromas and flavors, but enough perceptible
Complexity – rather diverse and unusual bouquet, with a predominance of acid citrus fruits
Expression/Typicity – for Bordeaux, this white wine is, of course, quite atypical. But if we consider the role of varieties in the assemblage, without taking into account where the wine was produced, these grape varieties fully show their characteristic features.
Analytical analysis of combinations with dishes
In terms of pairing with dishes, my choice (and desire to experiment) fell on raclette and cold cuts:
- Three types of raclette cheese – classic, smoked and from goat milk
- Jamon-type dry-cured ham
- Boiled ham
- Dried beef (viande des grisons)
- Italian coppa
Bonus – raclette with smoked salmon.
On the whole, this not quite local combination worked, but the organoleptic profile of the wine seemed to be too delicate for the expressive smoked tones of cheese and bacon.
To choose dishes for this wine, I referred not to the principles of similarity of aromas or tastes, but I aimed to balance a rather fatty winter dish by the acidity of the beverage, which in the same time should not be lost behind the rich texture of the food.
Of the advantages of the combination, I note:
- The fattiness of cheese and cold cuts (especially coppa and salami) was neutralized by the acidity of the wine
- The rich texture of a fatty cheese, whose butteriness was even more pronounced in its melted state (this is how raclette is served), was comparable to the body and buttery texture of wine