Home > Uncategorized > Baron Edmund de Rothschild, Bordeaux, Haut-Medoc, 2005

Baron Edmund de Rothschild, Bordeaux, Haut-Medoc, 2005

Ok, so I started in Israel in my last post and I’m working my way west. Today’s stop is in the Bordeaux region of France. Before I talk about the wine, let’s discuss wine labeling for a minute (yes, it has some bearing on this conversation!).

In many places around the world, especially in the Americas and Australia, wines are labeled by their grape varietal (e.g., Cabernet Sauvigion, Chardonnay, etc.). They tell you exactly what’s in the bottle (with some leeway, but that’s another post.) In most of France, they will not tell you the grape that is in the bottle, but rather the region, and you are supposed to know based on that, what grapes should be in the bottle. As we encounter different regions (or subregions) I’ll explain the varietals that you can expect there.

In Bordeaux, there are two major subregions, divided by the Gironde River, namely the Left Bank and the Right Bank. The entire region uses the same main red varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Right Bank wines use primarily Cab Sauv., while Left Bank wines use primarily Merlot. In either case, Cab Franc is used in a supporting role. In any case, most wines in the Bordeaux region are blends; it’s rare to find a single-varietal wine here.

Is a single varietal better than a blend? Some say yes, some say no. I personally think that there are advantages to both sides of the argument, and that by having both, it’s a better and fuller wine world. But I digress….

The Haut-Medoc is a district within the Medoc region, which is an area of the Right Bank (pop quiz: so what grape is dominant in this wine? That’s right, Cabernet Sauvignon!)

The vintage in Europe is much more important than it is in the New World, primarily because weather can (and does!) vary so much more there than it does in the major wine producing regions in the Americas (think about it: there’s a reason we all want to hang out in California.). 2005 was a landmark year for Bordeaux and many of its wines were built to age for long periods of time.

Personally, I live in an apartment in New York. I don’t have the space–or the patience–to store or cellar wine for years and years. Fortunately, the Edmund de Rosthchild 2005 doesn’t need to be cellared for all that long (though you probably could hold on to it for a couple of years).

This wine had more of a dark ruby hue to it. On the first taste, it was difficult to get much out of the wine; it’s definitely a wine that you want to open an hour or two before serving!

Bordeaux wines, like their counterparts in the Rhone Valley, are not as fruit-forward as their New World counterparts, which can be a little off-putting to some people. Instead, you generally get notes like green pepper, tobacco, leather and tar (yes, this is actually a good thing, and rather pleasant. In a similar vein, if you get yourself an old German Riesling–I think there are a few kosher ones out there–you will typically get notes of petrol which is actually not an unpleasant smell/taste despite the implications of the name).

What fruit you do notice in these wines tend to taste and smell more like under ripe fruits (more astringent and sour). In California, the fruit qualities in the wine are dominant and they tend to lean towards the over ripe range of a fruit’s life. This has a lot to do with the wine-growing theories spouted by UC-Davis’ oenology department (namely, let the grape get as ripe as humanly possible without letting it go bad). On the other hand, in Bordeaux, winemakers tend to pick before peak ripeness.

When I was sampling this wine last Shabbos, again, I didn’t get much on the nose initially, mostly green pepper. The palate was very tannic (that astringent mouth-puckering quality in red wines). There wasn’t as much acid in the wine as I was expecting from a Bordeaux, but it made up for that with notes of tobacco and mushrooms.

When I tasted the wine again Saturday afternoon, the wine had opened up tremendously, allowing for more of the fruit qualities to come out. The earthier notes were still present but softened considerably compared to the initial tasting.

This kind of wine is right up my alley, but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not for everyone, especially if what you’re looking for is the uber fruity kind of wine (for those who like this type of wine, stay tuned next week!). And it begs for red meat. It would pair very well with a steak with some sort of mushroom sauce. The fats in the meat would go well with the tannins and the earthiness in the wine would be reflected in the mushroom sauce.

All this being said, it was overall a very pleasant wine to drink. L’chayim!

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