By Linda Kissam | Photos Courtesy of Linda Kissam
I am finding that coming together with a group of fellow wine buffs is a creative way to really understand wine. A group atmosphere offers the opportunity to share opinions and conclusions, shaping and strengthening each individual’s appreciation and education of the wines under discussion. The concept is similar to most any club. Sure, you can enjoy a special interest on your own, but getting together with a group of people who love what you love enhances appreciation and understanding.
As a wine writer, I am often sent samples of wine to review. I am not a wine critic, but I know what I like and what I like recommending to my readers and friends. So began the impetus for creating the Women’s Wine Council; A group of six coming together for a focused review of six wine samples. This tasting was all about 6 lovely Bordeaux wines: 2 reds, 2 whites, a rosé, and a sparkling wine.
It was an interesting evening of give and take and patience. Why patience? Because Bordeaux’s are shy little creatures. They generally need to be decanted before drinking as they are coaxed to share their full potential. Some need a few minutes to expand the nose; some need time to dust off their nose to uncover incredible aromas and luscious notes on the palate.
Four of us were writers; two were wine lovers giving us their consumer view of the wine. Prices were not given until the voting was finished. Six wines, gorgeous food pairings, and four hours later here is my take on the wines. You can find all of these wines on line. Just Google, order, and enjoy.
Favory Crément de Bordeaux (SRP $12) – A lovely soft sparkler. Tiny bubbles with a nose of straw, yeast, light citrus, and sweet apple. The group loved it, not a drop was left as we all tried several food bites with it. At this price, I’d definitely recommend it as a must buy. Bring it out for receptions, parties, or as a well-deserved self-indulgent treat. It received two first place votes and an “I’ll definitely buy it” from our non-writers.
Axel des Vignes 2009 Bordeaux Blanc (SRP $10)- I’d describe this as a wine that plays well with others. It has almost a chameleon character – ready to back up many types of foods, not needing to be its own star. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend as a wine to enjoy by itself, but it will shine with shrimp (see recipe below), and a raspberry vinaigrette salad. This classic Bordeaux blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon has a great price point and the bottle should be empty by the end of a meal. About 12% alcohol.
Eos du Château Lugagnac 2008 Bordeaux Blanc (SRP $12) –Not my favorite, but several members of the group lobbied for it to take first place. The mix of grapes is interesting: 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sauvignon Gris, 15% Semillon and 5% Muscadelle. I was expecting a sweeter wine with big floral muscle. Not sure why it tasted like a big, buttery, oaky Chardonnay. 14% alcohol.
Château Penin 2009 Bordeaux Rosé (SRP $13)- A beautiful wine to serve spring and summer. A definite patio or Jacuzzi wine. 85% Cab, 15% Merlot. Expect a soft rose color with a mild fruit scent of strawberry and vanilla. Make sure you serve it chilled (but not cold). The wine is meant to be an aperitif, but the group liked it with salty spiced nuts, salad and strawberry ice cream. Its fresh tart flavor profile does a good job refreshing the palate.
Château Lestrille 2006 Bordeaux Supérieur Rouge ($14)- By far my favorite of the tasting, this wine is most likely to please a red lover’s palate. 94% Merlot, 6% Cab. The nose started out earthy, so much so that we lost a few of the members on the first swirl and sniff. Having tasted several Bordeaux’s like this before, I was hoping a little patience and some serious swirling would bring the wine to life. Indeed that is what happened. Clove, cinnamon, fine cocoa and candied violets eventually appeared with rich flavors of blueberry & black currant. This Big Boy was made to go with any food made with mushrooms. Smooth and rich, it is a steak wine from beginning to end…however I vote to just sit by a roaring fire while reading Jane Eyre, sipping slowly, and contemplating life’s romantic mysteries.
Chateau Bel Air 2007 Bordeaux Supérieur Rouge ($14) – A close second for me, but first with the group, this smooth fruit forward Merlot with a stunning claret color, exhibited rich acidic plummy flavors with hints of mint, raspberries and a light earthiness. 50% Merlot, 25 % Cab, 25% Cab Franc. Temptingly affordable, this would go well with a Caprese Salad. Would also be lovely with lasagna, grilled meats, and gorgonzola cheese.
Bordeaux wines come in all price ranges. The six we reviewed were more than affordable, surprising even the most experienced members of the group. You can explore more about food friendly, affordable Bordeaux’s at http://planet-bordeaux.com/ .
Corie’s Spicy Lemon-Marinated Shrimp
Pairs well with the Axel des Vignes 2009 Bordeaux Blanc (SRP $10)
1 large lemon
1 ½ tsp. coriander seeds
3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. sugar
1 ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. + 2 ½ kosher salt
2 tbsp. pickling spices
1 lb. large shrimp in shells (21-25 per lb.) peeled, tail and first shell segment left intact and deveined
Remove zest from lemon with a vegetable peeler and remove any white pith from zest strips with a sharp paring knife. Halve lemon and squeeze 3 tbsp. juice.
Finely grind coriander in coffee/spice grinder. Whisk together coriander, zest juice, vinegar, oil. Water, sugar, chili flakes, and 2 1/3 tsp. salt in a large bowl until sugar and salt are dissolved.
Fill a 3-4 t. saucepan with water, add pickling spices and remaining 1 tablespoon salt, and bring to a boil. Add shrimp and boil until just cooked through about 1 ½ minutes. Drain well, then add warm shrimp to marinade and toss to coat.
Let cool slightly: Transfer shrimp & marinade to a large sealable plastic bag. Marinate shrimp, refrigerate, turning bag occasionally for at least 8 hours.
Drain shrimp before serving.