“Wait, so just out of curiosity, what do your tasting notes look like?” asked Chad, my husband of almost 12 years, after I gave him a bare bones lowdown on what happened in the Berry Bros. & Rudd Tutored Tasting event.
“Well, it’s a mess… But you’re welcome to check it out.”
Spoiler alert: My tasting notes, especially during blind tastings, redefine the term “chicken scrawl.” They’re disgustingly messy, definitely not WSET approved, and would make Eddie Izzard and the Pythons proud with its level of streaming consciousness. But hey, it’s my personal proof that I got Beaujolais right on a blind tasting activity (note: personal… I’m past that point in my life where I have to prove myself to anyone).
I completely understand that I jumped the gun and whoever is reading this would need some semblance of context… So let me talk about the event (and wines) of said Bordeaux event.
Of course I arrived late and forgot my notebook (bof…). Happily taking a spot in the back of the room, I managed to catch the beginning stages of Frédéric Cayuela – DipWSET, Champagne Master, newly minted Bordeaux Master, and amiable French guy with a Spanish sounding last name – conducting what to me is a review of Bordeaux.
As a frustrated francophone, I totally welcomed the exercise in French etymologies… For example. Bordeaux the region takes its name from the French term “au bord de l’eau,” or “at the water’s edge,” as an homage to the river Gironde that runs through the place. The region of Graves is named after the gravel soil found in the region, which provides better drainage and retains the heat from the sunlight. The area Pomerol is named so because it used to have tons of apple orchards (“pomme” is “apple” in French… and at this point Frédéric jokingly reminded us that it’s wiser to invest in vineyards versus apple trees in Pomerol). And after working with wine since 2005 I found out for the first time that Merlot is a name of a bird…?
The wino in me hasn’t had a need to talk about soils and mitigating factors in ages as well. So it was great to revisit the concept of the left side of Bordeaux having forests that mitigate the cooling factor of the sea, keeping the area warm enough for Cabernet Sauvignon to thrive (Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, like some people I know, have thick skins that make them resilient to warmer situations). The Right Bank has clay soils, soaks up lots of water, is colder, and is the perfect place for Merlot to flourish. These “banks” are divided by the river Gironde, which stretches to the south of Bordeaux through Entre-Deux-Mers (“between two rivers”). That region is famous for white wines, which at that moment Frédéric teasingly refused to discuss.
We were also treated to a revision of some Bordeaux wine labelling terms… For example, Cru Bourgeois doesn’t mean wine made for/by certain classes in society. It means wines of exceptional quality whose wineries couldn’t submit documents in time to get them considered for the legendary 1855 Classification of Bordeaux. This 1855 Classification still exists today and is used by prestigious wine houses to connote historical, traditional quality. The first growths of said wineries will cost a pretty penny!
Frédéric also clued us in on buying Bordeaux: The 2019 vintage was inexpensive for a moment because of the pandemic (i.e., people didn’t want to invest in Bordeaux at the time… I mean, people were dying). It’s best to buy dry vintages (aka, years that didn’t see much rainfall) for specific regions that tend to be constantly wet to begin with, such as the Saint-Estèphe.
Alas, I’m jumping the gun. The delicious wines featured during that afternoon were great illustrations of these concepts. These are from my personal tasting notes (which I had to decipher like an amateur archaeologist):
2018 Saint-Émilion by Château Simard
That inexpensive version of an Ausone made primarily out of Merlot was equal parts complex and easy drinking… It’s something I would drink with a wino friend without food, but its elegant tannins would be able to hold when pairing it with roast beef.
2020 Pomerol by Château Feytit-Clinet
Compared to the previous wine, it was much more mellow. It was a Merlot Cabernet Franc blend, and the sharpness of the Cabernet Franc was pretty evident on the nose. It was a 15% ABV wine (hic!) and I re-learned that having Merlot would potentially do that to the blend… Merlot has more sugar, ergo would produce alcohol during fermentation. Anyway it was a dark fruit, dark chocolate, silky wine that packed a little more punch on the palate.
2019 Margaux by Château Angludet
Ok so I enjoyed it so much I underlined the descriptions on the tasting notes provided for us by Estate Wine in an effort to not get distracted… The ones that I agreed with at least. It did have a “dose of acidity” that “navigates through the layers of blackberries and blueberries,” sure. I also agreed with Frédéric when he said that it was a “lighter style of Cabernet Sauvignon” (it’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot BTW), and IMHO was reflective of its terroir.
2018 Saint-Estèphe by Château Tronquoy-Lalande
Confession: I wasn’t able to catch the name of the old French phone company that also owns Château Tronquoy-Lalande. I was rescued by our “père Français” by telling me it was Bouygues. That trivia aside, the Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot blend was deeper, more purple despite being older than the previous wine (Cabernet Sauvignon could do that to a wine’s color), and had refreshing menthol notes and dark fruits on the palate. I agreed with the notes saying that it had a pencil-lead finish.
2017 Saint-Julien by Château Léoville Las Cases
The Cabernet Sauvignon is from a ripe, sunny area… which prompted Frédéric to jokingly call the wine reminiscent of a “California style of Cabernet Sauvignon.” It’s a purple hued red wine with less grippy tannins that the previous, with a smoothness to the menthol and dark fruit flavors. It ended up being my favorite.
With that in the bag, Frédéric treated us to a blind tasting. That’s when my notes just went bonkers… but I did manage to get the Pinot Noir right while being clueless on the region it came from (Santa Barbara, duh… How could I not have guessed. I’ve been there often enough. This just means… Time for more Santa Barbara wine), and I got Beaujolais right (but not the fact that it was a Beaujolais Villages).
Again, this only means more wine for me. This specific line of Berry Bros. & Rudd Bordeaux wines are available in store at Estate Wine, Legazpi Village. They’re between Php 3,000-3,300 each, so buy now (before I finish their supply of Château Léoville myself *wink*)
Merci beaucoup mon papa français JR Favero pour l’aide. Vous me manquez. Bisous à vous et à maman Annie !