Thursday, July 28, 2022

Bordeaux’s Best Kept Secret

                       Most white Bordeaux comes from the sub-region called Entre Deux Mers

This article is the first in a four part series on Wine-Knows' September trip to Bordeaux.  

White Bordeaux?  That’s an oxymoron for many.   Production of white wine accounts for a mere 10% of Bordeaux’s total (and 3% of this is sweet wine from Sauternes), thus, it’s not surprising that a dry white Bordeaux is even less known.  Indeed, Bordeaux’s dry white is rare, with little of the miniscule amount produced ever making it across the Atlantic.  Dry white Bordeaux is definitely worth seeking out, and when you find it you’ll be astonished at the inexpensive price. 

                                     Entre-deux-Mers is just east of the city of Bordeaux

Most dry whites produced in Bordeaux come from the Entre Deux Mers sub-region of the wine district.   One of the top from this area is Chateau Marjosse which can be found online for about $15 a bottle (and the chateau’s owner is the managing director of Cheval Blanc and Yquem).    Other stars of Entre Deux Mers include Thieuley and Haut Garriga, both under twenty bucks.

                      Chateau Roqufort in Entre Deux Mers produces a stunning Bordeaux Blanc

Bordeaux’s dry white is a blended wine made from mainly two grape varietals,  Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.  Sauv Blanc is often the majority of the blend, which is not surprising since this grape originated in Bordeaux.  Contributing citrus notes and a mineral profile, Sauv Blanc forms a solid acid backbone for the area’s whites.   Semillon, on the other hand, is responsible for the unctuous texture of white Bordeaux.  Moreover, Semillon’s deep golden color also adds to the wine’s color by intensifying the hue. 

As dry white Bordeaux remains relatively unknown in the US, there is little demand and prices are downright a steal for the quality.  Why not have a Bordeaux Blanc party and spread the secret?

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Seductive Sarlat

               Sarlat is located in the Dordogne river valley only 100 miles inland from Bordeaux

France's medieval village of Sarlat, a tangle of pedestrian-only cobblestoned lanes, secret squares and beautiful honey-colored stone buildings, is sure to seduce.
  It’s no wonder why this enchanting town is a favorite location for film directors (>20 movies have been made here including Chocolat).   Sarlat is just the right size for travelers in that there are a host of services available for visitors, but small enough that it still offers the feel of a romantic getaway, especially after day trippers return home and twinkling lights appear in this Hollywood-set city.

                                 Sarlat is France's epicenter for goose & duck products

Although I have visited Sarlat at least 10 times, it’s the kind of place that one never tires of returning.   Located a few hours inland from Bordeaux in the area of the Cro Magnon caves, Sarlat is the perfect spot to unwind from jet lag.  The town is a stroller’s dream with all kinds of nooks and crannies---ancient alleyways wind throughout town and beg for exploration.  While the beautiful main street is usually filled with visitors, the equally charming back streets are often empty.   

          Sausages come in every flavor (L to R): pheasant, nuts, mushrooms, & duck

Sarlat is a gourmand’s paradise.  The region surrounding Sarlat (Perigord) is one of the epicurean centers for French gastronomy:   foie gras farms, walnut orchards, and forests filled with truffles & wild mushrooms.  The area’s many culinary treasures are palpable during the city’s outdoor markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Local cheeses, honey, a cornucopia of fresh produce, sausages, foie gras of both ducks and geese in every conceivable preparation, endless walnut confections, and bottles of earthy walnut oil all compete for hungry shoppers’ attention.

             Rotisserie chickens are accompanied by potatoes cooked in duck fat with onions & fresh herbs

I've timed by upcoming September visit to Sarlat so that my stay includes Saturday, their largest outdoor market.  I intend to fill my suitcase with Perigord's tantalizing delicacies.  But, I'm equally looking forward to Sarlat's mid-week nights when the village feels its most alluring.




Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Croatia Wines Sweep International Awards

                               Korcula Island boasts two of Europe's highest scoring wines

Wine-Knows' leasing of a private yacht in Croatia next year couldn’t be more perfectly timed.   Decanter Magazine (the European equivalent of Wine Spectator) has released its annual World Wine Awards, the globe’s largest and one of the most influential wine competitions.  Decanter has a rigorous analysis process where wines are judged by panels of hundreds of experts including wine critics, retailers and winemakers.  Croatia’s wines were some of the highest-scoring wines of the entire competition.

                         We'll board our yacht next September--- only 1 or 2 spaces are available

I’ve got even better news for the “hottie yachties” with confirmed spots on the Croatian yacht:   the stars of Decanters awards were all coastal wines from Croatia.   But, the story keeps getting better:  two of the three wines with nearly perfect scores (97 out of 100) are from an island that Wine-Knows will be visiting on the yacht, Korcula.   Another winner’s circle Decanter wine is from Hvar island…which Wine-Knows will also be visiting. 

                                             This producer's GRK stole the show

It isn’t by chance that Wine-Knows’ itinerary includes both of these islands.  Korcula has long been known for production of under-the-radar but world-class wines.   The island’s stunning wines remain basically unknown for a mixture of reasons.  First, production is small.  Second, the wines are made from native grape varietals that are only grown on Korcula.  Third, who would buy a wine made from a grape they can’t even pronounce such as “Grk?”   Wine-Knows would!  We love the complex white wine made from this unknown grape!

                                 Like Grk, Posip is a grape varietal only grown in Croatia

Korcula, however, isn’t a one-trick wine pony.  Another 97 point Decanter wine is made from the Posip grape, an indigenous varietal to coastal Croatia. The white wine made from Posip can be rich and exotic.  On the reconnaissance trip to select the yacht, a Posip wine from Korcula really rocked my world.  While it wasn’t on Decanter’s final list, it still remains indelibly etched in my wine memory bank.

                         One of Croatia's 10 Michelin star restaurants is located on Korcula

But, Korcula island isn’t just about exemplary wine.  It’s also a foodies’ paradise:  Korcula boasts one of the few Michelin star restaurants in Croatia, and its olive oil and cheeses are well known.  Perhaps the island’s most famous claim to fame, however, is the fact that it was the birthplace of 13th century explorer Marco Polo.

                      Plavac Mali, indigenous to Croatia, is the parent grape of Zinfandel

Hvar island is home to another of Decanter's highest scoring wines.   Unlike the two Korcula whites, this award-winner is a red wine made from the only-grown-in-Croatia grape, Plavic Mali.  DNA research has shown Plavic Mali to be one of the parents of Zinfandel (the other being Dobricic, another native grape from Croatia).  Age-worthy Plavic Mali produces complex rich reds.

                           The doorway to a private Croatian yacht awaits 1-2 more travelers

While the second week on the yacht is sold out with a full waiting list, there is a spot for one or two persons on the first week, September 2-9, 2023: