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A Taste of Another Planet

Posted by on May 25, 2011

After some enjoyable samples from Planet Bordeaux, care of Balzac Communications, when we had the opportunity to get some more Bordeaux samples to participate in a twitter tasting last Friday, we were all in.  Just in time for the hot VA weather we’re back in the middle of, we were tasting 4 whites and rosés.  While I love a cool day so that I can drink the red wines I love, this time of year definitely has me looking to these more translucent wines, and I was happy to see what value Bordeaux AOC wines had to offer.

The tasting began with the Dourthe Grand Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc 2010.  I’m not used to a Bordeaux Blanc being a single varietal wine – not that I’ve had many – so this was a bit of a surprise.  If I had to guess, this wine was definitely made for an American market, but I have no problem with that.  It was a real winner for me, and I was happy to have repeated tasting both the night of the tasting and the next day.  This wine retails for $12 and seemed like a great value.  I noted a boxwood (cat pee) and citrus note and tone of lime and grapefruit on the palate along with a hint of tangerine.  There were also some green ans boxwood notes on the palate behind all that fruit.  I love this type of wine, so it was totally working for me.  As the wine warmed a bit, the mineral elements became more noticable.  I loved the acid here and was a bit sad to move on to the next wine.

After trying the Château La Freynelle Blanc 2010, however, I didn’t feel so bad.  This blend of 50% sauv blanc, 30% semmillon, and 20% muscadelle (thanks for the century club grape) was apparently a bit more typically French (according to my fellow twitter tasters) and offered some really enjoyable complexity that would likely have benefited from a great food pairing.  This wine retails for $13 and had a screw cap (I don’t expect this with French wines, but I can’t complain about the easy access).  Initially, I noted a grassy nose with light hints of boxwood and a slightly weightier mouthfeel than I found with the sauv blanc.  Overall there was less fruit here, but there was still some nice acid – unfortunately, as east coast tasters, we’d already had dinner, so we weren’t experimenting with food pairings.  Initially I thought there might be some lime notes; as the wine warmed, I notes melon and peach, a hint of floral, and a slight touch of hay on the finish.  While this is not a type of wine I have a lot of experience with, it’s definitely one that shows I need to experiment with more Bordeaux Blanc blends!

The third wine of the night, the Château Ballan-Larquette Rosé 2009, was the only one that wasn’t working for me.  This is a blend of cab sauv, merlot, and cab franc that reatils for approximately $16.  On the nose, I noted tomato plants and strawberry.   While these are spring farmer’s market notes, I don’t particularly want to be reminded of tomato plants while sipping.  I also found it to have a surprisingly weighty mouthfeel (not good or bad – just surprising) than I expected.  On the palate, I continued to get that tomato note along with strawberry and some lemon on the finish.  This was not my wine, so I happily moved on.

The final wine of the evening was the Château Fontenille 2010 Clairet, a 100% cab franc wine retailing for $14.  This was my first ever offical Clairet, a light red often served chilled, although I have had some wines made it a similar style form VA.  My fellow tasters informed me that Clairets are hard to find in the US, and I think this is a real shame since this is a great warm weather wine for red wine drinkers like me.  The wine offered a rich berry nose and lots of red cherry and strawberry flavors with a hint of white pepper with a bit of oak that was most noticeable when the wine had a greater chill on it.

All things considered, this was a winner of a night, and we feel fortunate to have been included in this tasting.  We’re definitely going to start looking into more Bordeaux Blanc from our local independent wine stores – great flavors and great value.  Can you ask for more?  ….and if you see any clairets, we expect to hear about them.

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The A Taste of Another Planet by Swirl, Sip, Snark, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

10 Responses to A Taste of Another Planet

  1. GrapeEnvyGuy

    Planet Bordeaux makes me think of Planet Hollywood, which makes me think of Ah-nold, which given what he’s currently in the news for… well, these wines were MUCH better than scandalously getting your household help in a baby way. Actually they were quite good! The whites were both REALLY enjoyable, bright and crisp; the Clairet was a winner for me. While I love the movie Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (who knew George Clooney would use that as such an effective springboard?), I don’t love tomato-y wine. 3 out of 4? Like they say, know what you call a doctor who finished med school with a C average?

  2. Chris

    Williamsburg Winery did a claret in 2005 that was very nice, but is off the market now. However Linden does a claret that is pretty darn good, and very approachable in terms of price/body/etc.

  3. VAWineDiva

    Chris, I am by no stretch of the imagination knowledgeable about this, but I think the term Claret in VA is used in the British sense to refer to a red wine blend of Bordeaux grapes. Clairet, however, seems to be a light red wine – heavier than most roses but not as full bodied as a traditional red wine.

    Anyone have more info to share?

  4. Ed

    That agrees with what I found with a google search.

  5. Chris

    Touche! It was early yesterday morning when I read the post and didn’t see the I.

  6. VAWineDiva

    not a problem – I had to do some fast self-education when the bottle showed up

  7. gwendolyn alley aka wine predator

    This was a fun tasting–new wines for me too! I like see other peoples write-ups also to compare notes. Love your bottle photos! I’m always trying to get a shot with wine in the glass to show the color and am not always that successful.

  8. VAWineDiva

    Gwendolyn, Thanks for the compliment. Hopefully we’ll get to taste “together” again soon.

  9. Régis Chaigne

    Well, I don’t grow tomatoes in my vines ;-)
    More seriously, sorry you did not get satisfied with our Ch Ballan-Larquette Bordeaux Rosé.
    But above all, thanks for this very nice review of PlanetBordeaux wines, we definitely need more exposure : yes, you can find affordable enjoyable Bordeaux.
    Enjoy !

  10. VAWineDiva

    Régis, thanks for joining the discussion. While the rosé wasn’t to our tastes, we’ve really enjoyed discovering the values to be found coming from Bordeaux.

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