We partnered with sommelier, author and educator Hillary Zio for a multi-part guest blog series dedicated to discovering the classics. This fall, we’re expanding our Classics Series and Hillary’s here to share what makes each region special and each new wine such a great find. Read on and follow along with her sips and trips on Instagram @HillaryZio
Located in the southwest region of France, Bordeaux is the largest producer of fine wine in the world. Over 15,000 growers are spread across 57 appellations and more than 700 million bottles are produced annually. If you’ve ever been stumped trying to find a bottle of Bordeaux in the wine aisle, perhaps this is why!
Some long-time 90+ Cellars fans may remember Lot 76, a Collector’s Series Grand Cru Bordeaux from Saint-Emilion. That was our first, and only, Bordeaux release until this fall. Now, with Lot 161, we’ve finally released an everyday-priced Bordeaux we hope will be around for a long time to come. To celebrate the launch of this wine, we partnered with Sommelier and wine blogger Hillary Zio to share some knowledge of the Bordeaux region and its wines.
Read on to learn about the Bordeaux wine region and Lot 161!
Bordeaux’s history dates back more than 2,000 years, and today is home to some of the world's most recognized and highly sought-after names in wine. Unlike Burgundy, which is divided into sub-regions, Bordeaux is classified by houses or estates. In 1855, these estates were placed into a ranking system comprised of five categories (first through fifth growths). There are five first growths of Bordeaux – Margaux, Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, Haut Brion and Mouton-Rothschild. The wines made by these estates are often considered to be some of the best wines in the world.
The majority of wines produced in Bordeaux are red and are typically composed of up to five key Bordeaux grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah. There are some white wines produced in Bordeaux as well; those are usually made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
Bordeaux is divided by the Dordogne River into two regions: Left Bank and Right Bank. Cabernet Sauvignon prevails on the Left Bank. There, the soils are primarily composed of gravel and graphite, resulting in mineral-driven wines. Merlot is king of the Right Bank, where it is often planted in soils of red clay that impart a jammy characteristic to the wine.
Most Bordeaux wines blends, composed of some or all of the five red grapes mentioned above, with Cabernet and Merlot being the dominant grapes. When Cabernet is prominent in the blend, you will likely smell and taste notes of tobacco, currant, leather and blackberry. Cabernet grapes tend to have thicker skins than Merlot, which results in higher tannins and longer ageability. Merlot-based blends will likely reveal red fruit like plum and red cherry, as well as floral notes of rose and violet.
Even with these characteristics, it isn't always easy to generalize the taste of Bordeaux wines. Not only are the wines almost always a blend, but each estate has its own recipe (or cepage). Variations in climate might result in an estate to shift the grapes they use in a given vintage. It is also common for a négociant to purchase fruit from several different plots, resulting in slight variations year-over-year. Some believe that’s just the beauty of Bordeaux. Each vintage is unique and constant exploration is needed to comprehend these wines.
Which leads us to the new 90+ Cellars Classic Series Bordeaux...
90+ Cellars Lot 161 Classic Series Bordeaux
90+ Cellars Lot 161 Bordeaux is a blend of 55 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 40 percent Merlot and five percent Cabernet Franc. Because it includes a blend of fruit from both sides of the river, you’ll get a little taste of all of Bordeaux in this particular bottle. The nose is fruit-driven with blackberries, black currant, plums and boysenberry, while a hint of cocoa, green bell pepper and leather round out the full body. The wine finishes with violet, cedar and graphite, along with a distinctively pronounced tannin. These notes are common for a Bordeaux blend with a similar cepage.
This is an exceptionally structured wine at a great value, with complex flavors and a long finish.
Get 90+ Cellars Lot 161 Classic Series Bordeaux now! Available here.