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Bargain Bordeaux and Best Wine Deals – Chateau Perrot

Bargain Bordeaux can give you a lot of bang for your buck. Bordeaux-Undiscovered specialise in tracking down wonderful wines from this stellar region to offer you the best wine deals. Our latest discovery is Chateau Perrot . . .

Regions renowned for their white wines also grow red grapes for small production Clarets
Regions renowned for their white wines also grow red grapes for small production Clarets

The Bordeaux that is readily available in the UK tends to be either from the more expensive, premium, end of the scale or from cheaper producers who can guarantee large volumes of wine. This means that the majority of small producers who make great Bordeaux wines simply don’t get discovered, despite their wines being much feted in France. Hunting these wines down means that Bordeaux-Undiscovered can offer high quality wines at easily affordable prices.

The white wine AOC Entre Deux Mers (meaning 'Between Two Rivers' is also home to Red Bordeaux
The white wine AOC Entre Deux Mers (meaning ‘Between Two Rivers’ is also home to Red Bordeaux

Bringing small production Bordeaux to the UK benefits the producers as the wines gain the recognition they deserve thanks to their high standard and benefits the consumer as they represent amazing value for money.

Exploring the Entre Deux Mers for red Bordeaux has been unfashionable; after all this is an area renowned for its whites. UK merchants tend to source red wines from French negotiants (wine merchants) in more prominent and easily recognisable areas. However for those prepared to do the leg work this region between the two rivers has lots to offer.

The whole region has a fascinating history and its ancient estates have wine making pedigrees that stretch back centuries. These lands, once owned by Kings, Popes and nobility, produced wines for the court and the church long before the Medoc with its famous Bordeaux reds was even thought of. The terrain here is fertile and green; full of gently rolling uplands cut by numerous rivers and peppered with Medieval forts and bastides, chateaux, mills and monasteries.

More importantly, this terrain makes great red wine and it is packed with hidden promise.

It’s a good hunting ground for Bordeaux-Undiscovered.

Gold Medal - Chateau Perrot 'Cuvee Prestige' 2010
Gold Medal – Chateau Perrot ‘Cuvee Prestige’ 2010

Unknown in the UK but awarded Gold in France: Chateau Perrot

We discovered Chateau Perrot near Castelmoron d’Albret, the smallest village in France. This is a classic small producer (Petit Chateaux) making award winning wines which have never been seen in the UK before.

Location:

The ‘Cuvee Prestige’ is a gold medal winner and deservedly so. This little chateau is a real discovery and we are pleased to be able to introduce it to wine lovers over here. Perrot is owned by the Chavaux family and its vineyards lie about a mile away from the 10th century fortified village of Castelmoron which sits on the rocky escarpment high above. The vines sit on crumbly limestone soils and are surrounded by sunflowers to attract the bees.

Castelmoron d'Albret
Castelmoron d’Albret

History & Awards:

The Chavaux’s have been wine makers for several generations spanning the centuries and Perrot sits on an old site. Bernard and Christine Chavaux grow 4 acres of red grapes (Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) and 17 of white (Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc).

Their red wines have been attracting awards in France since 2003 from both Bordeaux itself and Paris.

Similar to another of our popular Petits Chateaux (Trois Tours), Chateau Perrot’s land was once owned by Jeanne d’Albret (1528 – 1572), Queen of Navarre and the mother of King Henry IV. She stayed at Castelmoron several times and held a small court there. There is no doubt the Queen enjoyed the local wines, they were served at all the local noble manors.

plantation4 (Copier)
The Perrot Vineyard

The vineyard is a patchwork of ancient plots, each given its own name which is recognised on the cadastral plan. This means that the plots were established long ago in time and were important enough to be named by the local government. This was done in the past in order to collect taxes from the vineyard owner, each plot being allocated a specific duty. Perrot is the name of the largest plot and gave its name to the Peit Chateau.

Hot Tip:

Making wine from separate plots is a policy followed by todays top chateaux as it allows the wine maker to blend only the best from each terrain. It’s not a modern invention but has become best practice – Petit Chateaux were following this policy for centuries.

Chateau Perrot ‘Cuvee Prestige’ 2010 – Gold Medal £6.99*

Chateau Perrot
Chateau Perrot

Tasting Notes:

Chateau Perrot produces a small amount of Claret and we have selected their ‘Cuvee Prestige’ to bring to the UK. This Cuvee is a special blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon from superior quality grapes from the Perrot parcel.

Chateau Perrot ‘Cuvee Prestige’ comes from the 2010 vintage – a glorious year for Bordeaux.

We are offering Cuvee Prestige at an introductory price of £6.99 which is superb value for money.

‘Supple and fruity Claret with a powerful, spicy nose and lingering aromas freshly crushed black fruits. Flavours of black cherry, cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) and mocha with notes of ripe dark plum, vanilla and toasty oak; coupled with a long fruity finish. Velvety smooth with good depth.’

Christine Chavaux
Christine Chavaux

Food Pairing:

Being an exceptionally made Claret, Cuvee Prestige is great with food; try it with roast duck, chicken, guinea fowl or lamb, rabbit and game pies. It’s a good match for strong hard cheeses as well as bean dishes with smoked ham or chorizo.

Enjoy!


* Price correct at the time of writing.

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Bordeaux Wine Tours: Top 5 Least Favorable Times to Visit

Guest Post by Pascale Bernasse of French Wine Explorers, a wine and culinary travel company known for their Bordeaux wine tours.

PastedGraphic-1Bordeaux was recently awarded Best European Destination 2015, and for good reason. Its lively riverfront is bustling with chic cafés, wine bars, and boutiques, and it offers over 1,000 restaurants—5 with Michelin stars—so finding a good meal is never difficult. Its neoclassical limestone architecture is stunning; in fact Paris modeled many of its boulevards and buildings after Bordeaux’s. It is the second largest wine-growing region in the world, home to no less than 10,000 vineyards, and it accommodates hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.

With so many vineyards and chateaux to explore, and so much delicious food and wine to sample, visitors need to take note of the ideal times not to travel to Bordeaux, to enjoy all that the region has to offer with as few hiccups and headaches as possible.

Bordeaux Wine Tours: Top 5 Least Favorable Times to Go

  • PastedGraphic-3In April, be on the lookout for Bordeaux’s En Primeur or Future’s Market, which is held around the first week of April. This is when all the chateaux and vineyards make available to wine journalists and wholesale buyers tasting samples of their wines prior to bottling. During this time the better estates, in particular Classified Growths, may not have estate representatives available to lead tours so they will be closed. Other estates offer limited tastings, so a visit during the Future’s Market may leave you wanting more. Also in April, be mindful of when Easter falls. Be aware that the French take the Friday before Easter and the Monday after off.
  • On odd numbered years—in the month of June—Bordeaux holds Vinexpo, where thousands of wine professionals and buyers flock to sample and buy wines from around the world. During this influx accommodations are more expensive and may be difficult to procure, and estates are often closed or offer tours on a limited basis because they send their best representatives to the expo.
  • In July, travelers should consider scheduling their tour of Bordeaux before or after July 14th, as it is Bastille Day—France’s national holiday commemorating the revolution. On this day, it will be virtually impossible to tour any estate or sample its wines since it is likely they’ll be closed to celebrate.
  • PastedGraphic-4Travel during harvest between September and October can be a wonderful time visit Bordeaux. The leaves on the vines are starting to change from bright verdant to autumnal ochre, red, and purple hues. Some visitors can witness, and perhaps participate in, a manual harvest—a practice more chateaux are reverting back to. Yet they are the fortunate few at this time of year, as many estates close their doors to the public to focus on the harvest. So if you want to tour and taste wine in Bordeaux during these months, it is best to book ahead six months to a year to insure your trip is a memorable one.
  • Another September event to avoid if your plan is to savor Bordeaux wines is Le Marathon du Médoc. This is a sometimes raucous half-marathon where its participants run the 26.2 mile course through the picturesque vineyards of Bordeaux. Its course includes 23 wine stops, winding its way through 50 chateaux. So it is needless to say that tastings on that day will be unavailable, and the crowds of people participating in the race and standing on the sidelines may linger in the area for a few days, clogging hotel rooms and vying for tours themselves.

Bordeaux has emerged as not only one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but one that embraces both modernity and cultural heritage alike. A well-timed visit to this nearly 500-year-old city is one that is not likely to be forgotten.

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A Vintage Performance on a Winning Day

Bordeaux-Undiscovered’s Race Day at Stratford Racecourse on 28th March was a great success. Check out the results below!

STR382-9377 Race 6 BTO Presentation 28-03-15We had several winners onboard who won tickets in our Prize Draw for the event. To enter into the Draw they had to answer the following question:

‘What is your favourite wine?’

We had some great answers and it turns out that Claret in all shapes and sizes is still a firm favourite:

  • The Grand Crus Classes were first past the post with a photo finish between the two Saint Emilions Chateaux La Fleur Morange and Pavie.

  • They were closely followed by the Petits Chateaux with newcomers performing well.

  • Malbec was a surprise front runner as an outsider and Sauvignon Blanc came in as a runner up. STR382-9235 Race 3 Presentation 28-03-15

  • There were a few stragglers and Alborino fell at the first hurdle.

Our Prize Winners were invited into the Collecting Ring to present prizes to the winning owner and jockey for one of our races and to judge the ‘Best Turned out’. We also had a lovely mention in trainer Kim Bailey’s Blog on 3rd April as we sent him some bottles of Claret having overheard that he had enviously watched owners and trainers leaving the racecourse clutching cases of wine – wine lovers who are racing fans can read all about it here: http://www.kimbaileyracing.com/baileys-blog/

STR382-9467 Race 7 BTO Presentation 28-03-15The Sunday Racing Post also gave us a mention in their piece ‘Little Jimmy produces vintage performance for Gretton’. Tom Gretton’s eight year old Little Jimmy came in 1st in our Claret Handicap Chase.

The results are here:

Bordeaux Undiscovered La Fleur Morange Mathilde Handicap Hurdle

1st Oyster Shell. Jockey: Jake Greenall

STR382-9367 Race 5 Prize Presentation 28-03-15Bordeaux Undiscovered La Fleur Morange Handicap Chase

1st Midnight Lira. Jockey: James Best

Bordeaux Undiscovered Claret Handicap Hurdle

1st Little Jimmy. Jockey: F de Giles

Bordeaux Undiscovered Sommeliers Choice Chase

1st Seymour Legend. Jockey: L Treadwell

Bordeaux Undiscovered Tipsy Selling Hurdle

1st Minister of the Interior. Jockey: R Johnson

Bordeaux Undiscovered Tally Ho Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race

1st Mister Miyagi. Jockey: Harry Skelton

STR382-9138 Race 1 Presentation 28-03-15You can view all the pictures of our Winners at our Gallery on our Competition Page. The photos of the Winners at the Races were taken by the Stratford Racecourse official photographer, Les Hurley.

After such success we’re hoping to run more Competitions and Prize Draws soon. If you’d like to take part please sign up for our Newsletters and we’ll keep you posted! (Newsletter Sign Up can be found at the bottom right of our Home Page here).

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Homing in on the Rhone – Roquemaure, Birthplace of the Cotes

Home to famous names like Hermitage, Chateauneuf du Pape and Cote Rotie, the Rhone has long been an ancient hub of wine making. Peel back the layers; look a little deeper and you’ll make an amazing discovery: Roquemaure, the birthplace of the Cotes . . .

Roquemaure
Roquemaure Castle

The Rhone Valley is so long that it stretches for almost 150 miles north to south. The wine region begins at the gastronomic paradise of Lyons and ends in the south, west of Marseille, where the River Rhone flows into the Mediterranean Sea. The valley is awash with history and wine; it’s an ancient trade route that merchants have travelled for thousands of years. Amidst the more famous wines there are many hidden gems that glint from within the valley’s reaches; often long forgotten by those outside France.

Exploring earlier this year I came across a real diamond.

Castle of Hers
Castle of Hers

In the Southern Rhone at the end of a narrow limestone ridge that rises abruptly from the flat plain below sits a ruined castle. Its sister, the Castle of Hers, sits on the opposite bank of the River Rhone. When they were built the Rhone was wider at this point than it is today and both castles were on islands within the river. The castle on the crag is known as Roquemaure (‘Rocca Maura’ which means the ‘black rock’ in the old French language of Occitan).

Les Vignerons de Roquemaure
Les Vignerons de Roquemaure

It was here that I discovered a little cooperative making stunning wines that have a history so weighty behind them that I was astonished by what I’d found.

Roquemaure sits on the right bank of the Rhone 6 miles north of Avignon, 5 miles south east of Orange and 2 miles west of Chateauneuf de Pape – ideally placed to become a trade centre. This region has a very old historical roots; a Roman villa and grave yard lie beneath the ground in the outskirts of the castle and it’s thought that Hannibal himself crossed the River Rhone here with his war elephants on his journey from the Iberian peninsula to northern Italy. Wines have been produced in the region since pre-Roman times, and those from the right bank were the favourites of Kings and of the Avignon Popes who ruled the area.

The wine of the Popes
The wine of the Popes

Roquemaure castle dates back to the 1209 at the eve of the Albigensian Crusade. Perched high on its crag Roquemaure was a wealthy wine hub; the castle hosted frequent visits by French Kings, Popes and nobility and its little port on the river bustled with wine exports.

The fame of its wines even reached England; the earliest written mention of viticulture in Roquemaure is by Gervase of Tilbury (Essex) in 1214!

Five hundred years later in 1735 more than 8,000 barrels a year were being shipped from the port.

Cuvee 1737, named for the year that coined the Cotes du Rhone
Rocca Maura Cuvee 1737, named for the year that coined the Cotes du Rhone

Roquemaure – the birthplace of the Cotes du Rhone

The trade in wines caused rivalry between competing French regions – Burgundy in particular tried to protect its reputation against the rise of the Rhone. Bordeaux frequently used Rhone wines (especially Hermitage) to spice up poor Bordelaise vintages. In 1650 a rule was passed to safeguard the quality of of the Rhone wines in order to protect against forgeries:

The term Cotes du Rhone was coined at this time in attempt to guarantee the origin of the wine and this rule forms the basis of today’s nationwide AOC system!

In 1737 King Louis XV decreed that all casks from Roquemaure should be branded with the initials C.D.R. The Cotes du Rhone was born. At first only wines from Roquemaure and neighbouring Lirac, Tavel and Chusclan could bear this mark. Two hundred years later it was expanded to a wider area and made law by the INAO in 1937.

Changing Tides for Roquemaure

2014-10-03 StEtienne-AiguesMortes 086
Today the castles are no longer islands in the Rhone

Some links with Bordeaux and Burgundy remain to this day:

  • The famous negotiant house M. Chapoutier have been producing both Burgundy and Rhone wines for over 200 years.

  • Francois Pinault, owner of Permier Cru (First Growth) Chateau Latour also owns Chateau Grillet in the Rhone.

  • Bernard Magrez, owner of four Bordelaise Premier Crus also produces Rhone wine. Oddly enough the oldest of Magrez’s Premier Crus is Chateau Pape Clement (which celebrated its 700th anniversary in 2006) which was once owned by Pope Clement V – who died at the castle of Roquemaure in 1314!

However as time marched on the port of Roquemaure silted up as the Rhone changed its course and the wine trade started to fade into obscurity. Of course wines were still produced in the area but the rise of Bordeaux with its great port eclipsed the Rhones and Roquemaure became a back water. In France connoisseurs know where to hunt out these wines but across the Channel their notoriety has been washed away.

Roquemaure Reborn

Roquemaure vineyards
Roquemaure vineyards

In 1922 a group of local wine makers clubbed together to form Rocca Maura, a cooperative based in Roquemaure. Today vintners from nine villages bring their harvests to the cellar and work in common with one goal in mind: to produce good wine of great character. Their vineyards cover some of the best terrain and stretch across the Roquemaure’s lands, Tavel and Lirac. Fanned by the winds of the Mistral and marked by the passage of the River Rhone these lands sit on limestone bedrock and granite outcrops covered with red soil and pebbles. The plots, established by their grandparents and ancestors, are reworked and the wines of Roquemaure have been reborn.

Flavours of Roquemaure
Flavours of Roquemaure

I have brought a sample of my favourites back to the UK; you can try them all as part of a case or individually to suit your personal tastes. Enjoy!

Rocca ‘Cuvee 1737′ Cotes du Rhone 2013 – Silver Medal £7.49

Deliciously deep and elegant Cotes du Rhone. Fine and fruit driven with satiny smooth tannins. Dense flavours of dark morello cherry, raspberry and ripe fig with subtle notes of cloves, vanilla and black pepper. A lingering finish of liquorice. Well balanced and full of finesse.

Rocca Maura Viognier
Rocca Maura Viognier

Les Cepages Viognier, Pays de Gard 2014 £6.49

Dangerously good, fruit driven, aromatic Viognier from the Gard. Sensuous flavours of ripe white peach, lime and poached pears with heady notes of verbena flowers, sweet aniseed and freshly cut hay. Complex, expressive and elegant with an impressively pure and long finish.

Rocca Maura Rose, Pays de Gard 2014 £5.99

Rocca Maura Rose
Rocca Maura Rose

Fine and fragrant Rose from the Pays du Gard. Lithe and lively with refreshing flavours of ripe raspberry, black cherry, cinnamon and sweet anise with a touch of strawberry. Gorgeous heady aromas of lily and wallflower. Svelte, smooth and well balanced.

Rocca Maura White
Rocca Maura White

Rocca Maura Blanc, Pays de Gard 2014 £5.99

Smooth, refreshing, crystalline White from the Gard. Clean flavours of pear, lemon and honeydew melon lifted by notes of apple blossom, almonds and sweet anise. Vivacious and bright this is also layered and expressive in the mouth. A crisp, well balanced white with lovely harmony.