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Bordeaux on the move

Bordeaux on the move

The historic châteaux may present immutable facades, but in the chais and marketplace alike, the world of bordeaux wine is in flux. It’s been rejuvenated, is more informal and celebrates diversity.

A long day is drawing to a close and you’re craving an aperitif. That’s the ideal time to open a bottle of Bordeaux.

+Discover Bordeaux wines

If this suggestion surprises you, note that the name Bordeaux can mean either a mellow Sauvignon Blanc with tropical fruit accents (because of Sémillon and Muscadelle grapes), a crisp, full-bodied rosé, a Crémant blend of Sémillon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, or even a fruit-forward red, whether slightly woody or not. And at mealtime, there are a wide variety of Bordeaux pairings: white with sushi, rosé with burgers, red (after resting for a short period in the cellar) with, say, holiday turkey, and even a sweet cuvée (often lighter and more refined than you’d suspect) with a maple dessert.

Bordeaux nouveau

Not all Bordeaux wines are tannic and woody reds, dauntingly expensive and made for longterm cellaring. While the region is still defined by its grands crus classés and new vintages never fail to cause a stir each spring, diversity is an ardently embraced objective these days. There’s no doubt that the Bordeaux area has glorious châteaux names – like Lafite, Haut-Brion and Latour – permanently linked to it, but we should not ignore the region’s 57 co-operatives and thousands of producers whose more modest but still attractive estates display pretty facades of honey-coloured stones, surrounded by a few hectares of well-tended vines. The region has undergone a series of uncharacteristically bold changes: the rise of organic methods and sustainable practices in a serious effort to catch up with other French wine-growing areas; a renewed emphasis on the subtleties of terroir rather than new barrels; a new generation of winemakers that appears more relaxed, wearing jeans and polo shirts instead of jackets and ties; and smaller appellations that have had to create a buzz to help them elbow their way into the market. And their efforts have produced wines that are more affordable than you might guess. In Quebec, you can find dozens of cuvées for under $20 – and several under $15 – so that you can sit back and savour them on any quiet weeknight, rather than delaying that enjoyment until an anniversary celebration comes along.

Château Bel-Orme Tronquoy de Lalande 2014

$31.10

Château Bel-Orme Tronquoy de Lalande 2014

Red wine750 mlFrance
Château Bel-Orme Tronquoy de Lalande 2014

Château Bel-Orme Tronquoy de Lalande 2014

$31.10

Red wine750 mlFrance, BordeauxSAQ code : 00126219
  • Expert ratings:
  • WE89
  • Grape variety(ies):
  • Merlot, 
  • Cabernet sauvignon
Mouton Cadet Réserve Bordeaux

$18.60

Mouton Cadet Réserve Bordeaux

Red wine750 mlFrance
Mouton Cadet Réserve Bordeaux

Mouton Cadet Réserve Bordeaux

$18.60

Red wine750 mlFranceSAQ code : 13360136
  • Grape variety(ies):
  • Merlot, 
  • Cabernet franc, 
  • Cabernet sauvignon, 
  • Malbec

So many like bordeaux!

Half of Inspire members who drink French wine choose Bordeaux.

A festive air

This fresh breeze has spread over the city of Bordeaux as well. A mere 15 years ago the waterfront area – where local wine merchants once busily plied their trade – had precious little to offer beyond graffiti-marred facades and congested expressways. Today, it’s a vibrant pedestrian venue, and with it the entire city has come alive, combining business with pleasure.

A case in point is the wildly popular Bordeaux Fête le Vin, a biennial festival celebrating this fruit of the vine and designed to promote closer relationships between wine growers, négociants and the general public. The easygoing atmosphere of this event has so enchanted Quebec visitors that Quebec City now hosts its own Bordeaux Fête le Vin taking place every two years in early September.

In Bordeaux, there’s also La Cité du Vin museum, a hi-tech, gleaming, carafe-shaped structure that highlights Bordeaux’s rich wine expertise and culture. Inaugurated in 2016, it organizes exhibits dedicated to every aspect of wine knowledge and enjoyment, both in Bordeaux and worldwide. It is yet another example of the dynamism gripping the banks of the Gironde estuary, and the Bordelais’ outward-looking embrace of the world at large.

Change has also arrived at those glorious, centuries-old châteaux enshrined in the historic 1855 Bordeaux Classification. Inside the modern and impressive chais – barrel rooms that are symbols of the immense global success of crus – these legendary estates have begun to rethink their historic style. After years dominated by the confident views of the American wine guru Robert Parker (a proponent of new casks and overripe grapes), oenologists from the Médoc and Libourne have recently adopted a more balanced approach. During the 2016 barrel tastings, many wine columnists drew attention to the great suppleness of the wines, their more moderate alcohol by volume, and the softer tannins. In short, high-end Bordeaux blends can also be refreshing.

Fast facts

  • 119,000 hectares of vineyards
  • 80% red
  • 20% white
  • 7% certified organic vines (more than 50% certified sustainable or organic)
  • Main grape varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc (red), Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Muscadelle (white)

 

Fresh oysters on ice

Preparation: 20 to 40 minutes
Cost per serving: about $20 a dozen
4 servings

Ingredients
French shallots, finely chopped
Red or white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
2 to 4 dozen fresh oysters (1/2 to 1 dozen per person)
Crushed ice
Lemon wedges
Tabasco sauce
Slices of rye bread, buttered

Preparation
1.
Place the chopped shallots in a ramekin or a small bowl. 2. Add just enough vinegar to cover the shallots. 3. Lightly stir and leave to marinate. 4. Meanwhile, quickly clean the oysters under running water. 5. Shuck them and cut the muscle attached to the shell. 6. Place a bed of ice on a large serving dish. 7. Arrange opened oysters in a ring. 8. Serve with shallot vinegar, lemon wedges, Tabasco sauce and rye bread, or just plain.

Note
To keep the nice sea salt taste of the oysters, try to avoid soaking the oysters. Just rinse them quickly under tap water, and if needed, lightly scrub the shell with a vegetable brush.

What to drink with oysters

It goes without saying that oysters are a Bordeaux tradition. Their tender and salty flesh blends well with fruity and vibrant Bordeaux wines like the Château Sainte-Marie of Entre-Deux-Mers. The lighter Fleur de Sauvignon, too, will make a great partner.

Chateau Sainte-Marie Entre deux Mers Vieilles Vignes 2018

$16.85

Chateau Sainte-Marie Entre deux Mers Vieilles Vignes 2018

White wine750 mlFrance
Chateau Sainte-Marie Entre deux Mers Vieilles Vignes 2018

Chateau Sainte-Marie Entre deux Mers Vieilles Vignes 2018

$16.85

White wine750 mlFrance, BordeauxSAQ code : 10269151
  • Grape variety(ies):
  • Sauvignon blanc, 
  • Sémillon, 
  • Muscadelle
A.de Luze, Fleur de Sauvignon

$13.50

A.de Luze, Fleur de Sauvignon

White wine750 mlFrance
A.de Luze, Fleur de Sauvignon

A.de Luze, Fleur de Sauvignon

$13.50

White wine750 mlFrance, BordeauxSAQ code : 12206971
  • Grape variety(ies):
  • Sauvignon blanc, 
  • Sémillon

 

Filet mignon with bordelaise sauce and caramelized red onions

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes
Cost per serving: $14.25
4 servings

Ingredients
4 beef filet mignon steaks
45 mL (3 tbsp) butter
250 mL (1 cup) thin slices red onions
5 mL (1 tsp) sugar
80 mL (1/3 cup) red wine
250 mL (1 cup) demi-glace sauce
15 mL (1 tbsp) chopped fresh parsley
10 mL (2 tsp) fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper

Preparation
1.
Sauce: In a saucepan, melt 15 mL (1 tbsp) of the butter over mediumhigh heat and cook the onions until nicely browned. 2. Sprinkle with sugar and stir. 3. Deglaze with the wine and reduce by half. 4. Add the demi-glace sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. 5. Whisk the remaining butter into the sauce. 6. Add the herbs and season. 7. Steaks : Season the steaks and cook in a skillet for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or according to the thickness of the steaks and the desired doneness. 8. Serve with the sauce.

What to drink with filet mignon and bordelaise sauce

It’s well known that Bordeaux tannins and rare slices of beef go hand in hand. In fact, red wine is an integral part of this classic Bordelais dish, which further enhances its taste. In addition to their robust tannins, the Château Lamothe de Haux and the Château Cruzeau exude hints of wood and dark berries, just perfect for this fare.

Château Lamothe de Haux Première Cuvée 2016

$21.15

Château Lamothe de Haux Première Cuvée 2016

Red wine750 mlFrance
Château Lamothe de Haux Première Cuvée 2016

Château Lamothe de Haux Première Cuvée 2016

$21.15

Red wine750 mlFrance, BordeauxSAQ code : 00967307
  • Grape variety(ies):
  • Merlot, 
  • Cabernet sauvignon, 
  • Cabernet franc
Not available onlineSee quantity in stores
Château de Cruzeau 2016

$23.75

Château de Cruzeau 2016

Red wine750 mlFrance
Château de Cruzeau 2016

Château de Cruzeau 2016

$23.75

Red wine750 mlFrance, BordeauxSAQ code : 00113381
  • Grape variety(ies):
  • Cabernet sauvignon, 
  • Merlot

 

Food photographer: Christian Lacroix

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