Bordeaux brain teaser

Bordeaux is a classic wine region of France, producing some of the greatest wines ever made with a mighty blend of classic Bordeaux grapes. Since France first invented such a miraculous blending, wine producing regions around the world have jumped on the Bordeux-blend band wagon, producing very pleasing examples of their own Bordeaux version. This month The Journal teams up with Jacques Scott to appreciate how these blends change according to the terroir of the region.
Wines in no particular order were as follows:

  • Erasmo 2002, Maule Valley, Chile CI$35.99
  • Chateau Haut-Beauséjour, Saint-Estèphe, Cru Bourgeois, 2005, Bordeaux, France CI$36.99
  • Ernie Els 2003, Stellenbosch, South Africa  CI$61.95
  • Trinchero, Napa Valley, 2006, California CI$38.99
  • Limestone Coast Cabernet Merlot, 2005, Australia CI$23.99


The classic Bordeaux blend of grapes include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, each offering their own special nuances to the finished wine.  Some or all of them may be added by the wine maker depending on the end result that they are attempting to achieve.

The blending expertise of Australia, South Africa, California and Chile were all put to the test against the mighty Bordeaux at a blind wine tasting held at Hemmingways, with testers Lee Royle and Sergio Serrano from Jacques Scott, Hemmingways Manager Paulo Rei and yours truly all equally well and truly put to the test this month.
The Hemmingways kitchen, headed by Executive Chef Shetty, produced some excellent pairings with these heavy weight wines, including a delightful duck salad with a light pickled ginger and soy sauce dressing which really brought out the fruitiness of the wine, along with a magnificent Black Angus New York steak with some sturdy and delicious fries, a dish which was almost fought after by the tasters. (Perhaps we should have ordered two.)

First on the agenda was a lighter coloured wine with a subtle nose and soft tannins. Its earthy notes and elegant hints of oak ought to have been a give-away yet only Lee correctly recognised this wine as the Chateau Haut-Beauséjour from Saint-Estèphe, Cru Bourgeois in Bordeaux. Made from 52 per cent Merlot, 40 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 5 per cent Petit Verdot and 3 per cent Côt, the wine still has some years left in which to enjoy until maturity.
Next up was a much darker wine, deep and opaque, with a distinctly minty note on the nose along with blackcurrant and earthy tones on the palate. This was another tricky wine to guess, with again only Lee appreciating this as the Erasmo from Chile, made from 60 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 30 per cent Merlot and 10 per cent Cabernet Franc.
The following wine was, for my part at least, an easier choice, its “pencil shavings” nose and juicy, coffee-infused flavours leading me towards correctly choosing the Ernie Els from South Africa. A really spectacular wine, the Ernie Els (made from 61 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 25 per cent Merlot, 5 per cent Cabernet Franc, 5 per cent Malbec and 4 per cent Petit Verdot) displayed clear signs of aging with a slightly rust coloured rim (when the wine glass is inverted slightly against a white backdrop), along with rounded tannins and a pleasing long finish.
A clearly younger, almost purple wine then followed, its ripe cassis and dark berry notes an indication of hot weather ripening the wine to it full power. Three out of four tasters correctly identified this as the Trinchero from Napa Valley, made from 81 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 12 per cent Merlot, 6 per cent Petit Verdot and 1 per cent Cabernet Franc.   

The final wine also had tasters scratching their heads, with just two out of the four correctly identifying the wine’s full body and fruit forward notes as the Limestone Coast Cabernet Merlot from Australia. Mainly made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes (91 per cent) this wine is spicy on the nose, with hints of, again, pencil shavings, red berried fruits and cedary French oak.

Next month we begin a new line of wine investigation, with a foray into slightly less well-known varietals.


Executive Chef Shetty