Countdown to departure for Bordeaux is 2 days… still need to pack and tidy up some household things, then I can relax and let the journey begin. As I prepare for my visits to the wine châteaux in Bordeaux, I thought it wise to do a bit of research as to who has contributed to the growth/popularity/strength of this renowned wine region. Not wanting to get too, too involved, but wanting some background information, I found three men that stood out as “key players”- two Frenchmen and an American. I am positive that if I dug deeper I would find a long list of valuable, influential contributors, but for now I will speak of these three men.
Jean Capus– Monsieur Capus is known as the “Father” of the “appellations d’origine controlee”. Jean Capus, a deputy, initiated the separation of the Bordeaux Wine Region into 57 AOCs back in 1935. He worked with representatives from the government and the major winegrowers creating the Comité National des appellations d’origine (CNAO). This body managed the administration of the process for wines. After WWII, the committee became the public-private Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO).
The French AOC certification is for not only wines, but also cheeses, butters, and other agricultural products. Strict measures/standards for quality and origin must be met to receive the AOC certification. (This is a simple definition at best, but one easily understood.)
Emile Peynaud- Enologist –Professor at the University of Bordeaux- Monsieur Peynaud is known for encouraging “vignerons”-winemakers- to use the fruit of young vine stocks to make wines under a 2nd label. He believed this would “boost” the quality of the “grand vin” or the primary/ most important wine that a château produced. He urged them to allow the grapes to ripen more fully, and make more careful selection in both the vineyard and the cellar. Vintage years play a key role in Bordeaux, and if possible, one should at least attempt to learn which are considered “better” and the reasons why (early/late frost, too little/much rain, etc… at the critical stages of the vines development). Those 2nd label wines can be little gems of goodness, quite enjoyable and more affordable to the average wine drinker.
Robert Parker Jr- An internationally known wine critic and founder of Wine Advocate, Mr. Parker refocused the world’s attention on Bordeaux wines with he lauded the merits of the 1982 vintage. (Much credit for this amazing vintage goes back to the work of Emile Peynaud!) This public acclaim helped Bordeaux enter its Third “Golden Age”! While the world’s master tasters may not all agree that 1982 was indeed a “legendary vintage”, the attention received from Mr. Parker’s review boosted Bordeaux’s reputation.
Selecting wines from Bordeaux can be challenging and yes, a bit stressful! Knowing that there are numerous offerings/wines from each château requires either direction from a more knowledgeable person or simply a “let’s give it a try” philosophy with no expectations from the consumer. Be adventurous and enjoy the fantastic wines from Bordeaux with a smile on your face and a glass in your hand! Santé