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11 November 2005

A breath of fresh air in Bordeaux?

Jean-Christophe Mau, fussy sorter
Eighteen bright ‘young guns’ have formed a new producers’ association and launched their promotional campaign for the UK, called Bordeaux Oxygène. What is particularly noticeable and novel for Bordeaux is that it’s not obviously based on an elitist hierarchy or specific appellations. It does include top-ranked Saint-Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé estates such as Angélus and Beau-Séjour Bécot, but there are also Châteaux from Côtes de Francs – Marsau owned by Dourthe – Thibault Despagne’s Tour de Mirambeau Bordeaux Supérieur and Ch. Preuillac (Médoc) and Ch. Brown (Pessac-Léognan), both represented by Jean-Christophe Mau. They are all youthful and enthusiastic – Mau joked he is the oldest (I don't know how old he is but younger than me probably!) – although perhaps not lacking in funds. The group also includes the daughters of Michel Rolland (Stéphanie Rolland-Lesage at Le Bon Pasteur, Pomerol) and the owners of Smith Haut-Lafitte (Alice Cathiard-Tourbier); and Mathieu Chadronnier, son of Dourthe boss Jean-Marie. Bordeaux Oxygène’s president Benoit Trocard, of Clos Dubreuil in Saint-Emilion, commented: “A revolution in Bordeaux isn’t possible. Our parents and ancestors worked and achieved things for Bordeaux; it’s our turn to get out there, head on with the competition from top wines that aren’t necessarily from Bordeaux.” Their initial focus is Europe and in particular the UK, Switzerland and Belgium with plans to hold targeted tastings this winter and next spring - “to get moving, keep moving, not wait,” as vice-president Jean-Christophe Mau put it.

For further details try contacting the elected secretary Sylvie Courselle at Château Thieuley (Bordeaux Supérieur). The other producers involved are: Malartic-Lagravière (Pessac-Léognan); Clos du Clocher, Château Rouget (Pomerol); Clos Fourtet, Grand Mayne (Saint-Emilion); Château Brillette (Moulis); La Lagune, Loudenne (Médoc); and Ch. Nairac (Sauternes). Let’s hope they don’t shorten Bordeaux Oxygène to its initials for English speaking countries, as they had in the original press file…
A version of this story appeared in the UK trade paper Off Licence News, 11th November 2005. Tasting feature from the same trip here: Pessac-Léognan, Saint-Emilion and Pomerol

01 November 2005

Spain: Castillo de Perelada, Cava / Empordà-Costa Brava

Castillo de Perelada: Cava / Empordà-Costa Brava
Empordà-Costa Brava is a small wine region in the northeast corner of Catalonia, in the heart of which you'll find the attractive town of Peralada (Catalan spelling) not too far from Figueres, home of the magnificent eggs-and-baguettes Dalí museum. You can visit the old Castillo de Perelada cellars, where they still age their top of the range wines, but the main winemaking facilities are in Girona and Villafranca. They also have a nice wine shop and café, so you can stock up after a guided tour and posh lunch in the casino, or inexpensive one at the restaurant in the square across the road! I think they're producing some of the finest Cavas you'll find anywhere, as well as a good range of reds, whites and rosés. Tasted Sept-Nov 2005:

Cava Brut Reserva non-vintage (NV) (Macabeu Parellada Xarello) - Subtle floral almond biscuit aromas, more chocolatey on the palate with crisp dry and tight length. Nice with chocolate and coconut sponge. €4 88
 Cava Brut Rosado NV (Monastrell Garnacha) - Deliciously frothy summer fruit cocktail, leading to fresh choco-nutty off-dry finish. €4.50 90
2002 Cava Brut Nature (Macabeu Parellada Xarello) - You'll think it's Champagne: really quite refined with subtle intensity of yeasty oily almond flavours, crisp elegant length and very dry refreshing finish. About €6-7 a bottle! 90+
 2004 Blanc de Blancs (Garnacha Blanca Macabeu Chardonnay 12.5%) - Offers good depth of nutty and oily fruit v zesty citrus edge; aromatic start then fills out on the palate to more buttery and peachy, yet finishes crisp and long. Bargain at €3.  87
 Blanc Pescador Vino de Aguja NV (11.5%) - Refreshingly unusual dry white showing crisp yeasty gummy fruit with nutty mineral notes, slightly sparkling too with light elegant finish. Seafood delight. 85
2004 Rosado (Cariñena Garnacha Tempranillo 13%) - Quite fine rosé showing lovely raspberry and rose petal aromas, medium-full weight of fruit finishing more elegant, crisp and dry. About €3 87
2002 Tinto Crianza (Garnacha Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon 13%) - Try with smoked bacon and spinach pasta: developing smoky leather notes underneath a savoury damson and raisin heart, medium-full in the mouth with dry grip and a vanilla-oak coating. €4 87

Latest Perelada wines here (Spanish "wines of the moment") and here (Cava guide).


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