As a declared Italophile, I always feel somewhat guilty when I swoon for wines from a different country, even if that country is France which as readers of this blog know, was my first love.
A couple of weeks ago I had the occasion to stop in at Maslow 6, a lovely wine shop run by friends and wine colleagues Mollie Battenhouse and Keri Jackson Kunzle. I love that store, partly because I feel at home but mostly because they have great wines and great producers come to visit on a regular basis.
This recent visit brought to light wines from the right bank of Bordeaux which were being showcased by producer and negotiant Francois Thienpont and his distributor Alain Blanchon.
The wines were part of the Terre di Burdigala line and were made by Stephane Derenoncourt. They were on the whole delicious, approachable and affordable, not what usually comes to mind when one thinks of Bordeaux.
Thienpont’s family has been in the wine business for more than 150 years and they make numerous celebrated wines including Le Pin and Vieux Chateau Certan. . The family owns a number of well known chateau such as Le Pin, Vieux Chateau Certan, Chateau Pavie-Macquin, Chateau Charmes-Godard and Chateau Lauriol.
Despite this impressive pedigree, Thienpont was immensely approachable and very enthusiastic about this new line of wines which could fit every pocketbook. Terra Burdigala is the old Roman name for Bordeaux. This collection is looking to compete with less expensive wines from the Old World as well as wines from the New World. Blanchon noted that the wines are largely positioned between $12 to $25, mostly at the top end of the range.
Many of the grapes for the wines come from properties that Thienpont owns but some fruit is bought. Thienpont said the hardest thing in terms of quality control when you don’t own the vineyard is to convince the growers to wait. “We try very hard to get the growers to wait until the grapes have reached phenolic maturity and ripeness but it is an uphill struggle. Once one grower brings in his grapes, the others feel compelled to do the same,” he noted.
That evening we tried seven wines from the Terra Burdigala collection. I thought they were all impressive. For a complete list of the wines and more information, please check out Mollie’s informative post on the event.
I was particularly taken with Chateau Manoir du Gravoux “La Violette” 2005 from the Cotes de Castillon. It was elegant and well rounded with delicious red and black fruit notes, cedar and hints of chocolate. This Chateau Peyroutes St Emilion Grand Cru 2006 was also fabulous with plummy flavors and fine tannins.
Thienpont family also makes the celebrated Vieux Chateau Certan but we didn’t try the “Grand Vin” that evening. If those were the petits vins, I can only imagine what VCC tastes like. That’s what those in the “know” call it…VCC.
We did get to try a gem called La Gravette de Certain 2005. This scrumptious wine was velvety and rich, elegant and silky with hints of oak, fruit and flowers. It was immensely well balanced and a true pleasure to drink.
The wine store owners, the producer and the distributor were all lovely and welcoming, a perfect way to spend a Wednesday evening. So much so, I plan on going back this Wednesday.