Producer: Chateau Lafite Rothschild
Country Hierarchy: Medoc, Bordeaux, France
Grape/Blend: Bordeaux Blend Red
Food Suggestion: Beef and Venison
Wine Style: Red – Savory and Classic
Alcohol Content: 12.5 – 13%
Notes: First Growth. Premier Grand Cru Classe in 1855.
Ownership: Domaines Barons de Rothschild.
Pauillac, a commune located between Saint-Estèphe and Saint-Julien on Bordeaux’s Médocpeninsula, is home to some of the world’s most famous and expensive red wines wines, made predominantly from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety, which is well suited to the free-draining gravel soils found in Pauillac’s vineyards. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Carmenère, Petit Verdot and Malbec are also permitted for use under the Pauillac appellation laws.
The stellar reputation of Pauillac wines is based not only on their quality, but on their success in international fine wine markets. Three of the top five châteaux in the 1855 Médoc Classification (a ranking of Bordeaux’s best wine-producing properties) are located here; Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild and Château Latour. (© Wine-Searcher)
The vineyard-lined road to Pauillac (©CIVB/Haut-Relief)
Overall, the terroir of Pauillac varies more than might be expected in an area of only 23 square kilometers (9 square miles), where the land near the banks of the Gironde estuary with the best vineyard sites rises and falls by a maximum of 30 meters (100ft). Over hundreds of vintages, the châteaux and their winemakers have become very skilled at emphasizing the individuality of their vineyards, and there is general agreement that the styles of the top three châteaux are discernibly different. Overall, however, there is still an identifiable Pauillac wine style: full, rich, and characterized by the classic cassis-and-cedarwood aromas of oak-aged Cabernet Sauvignon.
The appellation laws for Pauillac specify that all land within the Pauillac commune boundaries qualifies for the title, unless composed of sandy, alluvial or impermeable soils. Certain plots in neighboring Saint-Julien and Saint-Estèphe also qualify for the title, as do a handful in Cissac and Saint-Saveur.
A Bordeaux Blend, at its most basic, is any combination of those grape varieties typically used to make the red wines of Bordeaux. The phrase, which seems to have originated with British wine merchants in the 19th Century, relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself (© Copyright material, Wine-Searcher.com). Far from being an officially defined or legal term, it is almost never used for wine-labeling purposes (although it occasionally appears on back labels). Its equivalent in the United States is Meritage, which is not only legally defined, but also a registered trademark.
Red Bordeaux Blends are known for their powerful structure and deep flavors. Dark fruits and berries such as plum and blackcurrant are commonly used to describe the flavors of red Bordeaux, although there is an unlimited range of terms that have been ascribed to them. Tannins tend to be relatively high in these wines, giving them a firm structure.
Blending red Bordeaux wine
Cabernet Sauvignon is widely accepted as a compulsory component of any Bordeaux Blend, with Merlot following close behind. In fact, the majority of Bordeaux Blend wines are often made exclusively from a blend of these two varieties. The remaining components are Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, used in varying combinations and proportions. Even Carmenere is on the list of possible ingredients, despite being rarely used by modern Bordeaux vineyards (notable exceptions include Haut-Bailly, Brane-Cantenac and Clerc-Milon).
With the global wine industry expanding and developing at pace, the use of the term “Bordeaux Blend” is changing. Although a product of the Old World, it remains a useful concept, allowing the wine industry and enthusiasts everywhere to talk about Bordeaux-style red wines as an international group, irrespective of regionality.
Flexibility and a useful vagueness are key assets of the term “Bordeaux Blend”, but are also its Achilles’ heel; if it becomes too broad or too widely used it will lose its meaning. Is a Bordeaux Blend still a Bordeaux Blend if it contains Zinfandel, Sangiovese or Syrah? Without a formal definition to go by, the answer to that question lies entirely in the collective consciousness of those who use the phrase. Provided that Bordeaux’s vignerons don’t discover a new grape variety (Cabernet Sauvignon is only a few hundred years old), the term’s definition remains relatively clear.
The red Bordeaux style has reached almost every winegrowing country, with new candidates looking to emulate Bordeaux’s success. North and South America, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand all have their own expressions of the Bordeaux Blend. Even countries in North Africa and the Middle East produce their own interpretations of the style.
For more information on the various permutations of the Bordeaux Blend, please see Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot, Cabernet Franc – Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc – Merlot.
Food matches for Bordeaux Blend wines include:
- Steak entrecôte marchand de vin (red-wine sauce and shallots)
- Grass-fed wagyu rib-eye fillet
- Roast leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic
(sources : wine-searcher)