Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wine Study- "Cabernet Sauvignon"

Bordeaux renewed: Château Faugères’s new winery by Mario Botta
Cabernet Sauvignon 
is special among wine grapes…
- Jancis Robinson
We continue a series of sessions with the Francesca's at Sunset and Brannon's Cafe teams we are calling "Wine Study."  We are meeting every other Saturday for the purpose of expanding our knowledge and experience with wine.  Our guide is Jancis Robinson's Wine Course DVD, an excellent resource!  Aired in the United Kingdom in 1995 and is fascinating to see both areas where the wine industry has not changed and areas where it has.

Episode 3- Cabernet Sauvignon continues the juxtaposition Jancis showed us in episode 2; New World vs Old World. This time Mrs. Robinson starts us in southwest France, Bordeaux, the Medoc, where dozens of people working feverishly in preparation for the Fete de la Fleur Celebration and things are about to get wet; soaking WET.  All this activity is in the Saint Estephe region at the "NEW" Château LiLian Ladouys; owners Lilian and Christian Thieblot are hosting this party as a way to enter this very exclusive Bordelaise society! You can see their stress, the great effort and expense all to get noticed and accepted; to re-establish a once successful château. Jancis goes on to interview Anthony Barton owner of Leoville Barton (Second Growth in the St Julien region of the Medoc.) He is friendly and open about the Primer Crus being a “clique of their own.” “they use no vulgar advertising.”  And he cautions that among the invitees “people are inclined to find fault.”  He seems sympathetic to the impossible task the Thieblots have undertaken. I image this is not the first time he has witnessed this drama unfold, nor the last.

Jancis takes us thousands of miles away for the contrasting New World region; Chile.  Here it is DRY, and there are no Classified Growths or hurdles to jump to gain entry to a clique. Here she shows us dusty trails and horseback riders along with some cavalier vineyard practices.  As Jancis is interviewing Gaetane Carron, winemaker for Concha y Toro at the time, there are quick cuts to scenes of grape pickers tossing grapes around the vine rows and even a forklift dumping an entire bin of grapes on the ground!  All the while Gaetane is explaining her efforts toward better viticulture management. “We have not refined our viticulture practices…” Gaetane says, and you can see the weight of the impossible task on her shoulders as she talks.  

Mrs. Robinson covers several important topics on this DVD including; phylloxera, why Cabernet Sauvignon is such a great grape, the nuances and nonsense in the Bordeaux wine business while showing the unraveling of the Fete de la Fleur "Garden Party" at Château LiLian Ladouys under torrential rain.  As good as the contrast between the two regions is, like Jancis shows us in Episode 2- Chardonnay with Australia and Burgundy, this time the big reveal is that BOTH REGIONS AND WINERIES ARE THE SAME!  ...They both have a monumental struggle to overcome the unique challenges of their region.  AND, this is true of every region and every winery in the world!

It is a very exciting and dynamic episode which is informative and instructional. Our group watched it and I provided this handout which has a few notes from the video and some information and links to more on the web related to the topics Jancis covers, hopefully it adds a bit of depth on the subjects. I tried to include links to 'where are they today' information about the people in the video and I offer this link to a must read PDF about Bordeaux today; cutting edge "Extreme Estates!!!"

To check your learning experience and highlight the most important information here is the quiz.  And the quiz with answers.  And please reply to this blog; is Cabernet Sauvignon your  favorite wine?

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