Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A very late but a very Happy New Year!

Things kicked straight back into action here at Le Chai on January 2nd. I was soon amongst the barrels, tasting everything and beginning to make plans for wines to be bottled in the next three months.

Jean-Marc and I had tasted some lovely Gold medal-winning wines from an often-overlooked part of Bordeaux and early this week however I went to check it out for myself. Once again it was a new area of Bordeaux for me and after crossing the bridge from Castillon into the Entre-Deux-Mers I turned left and headed south east and was soon into the appellation known as Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux.

This area is relatively unknown and was previously famed for its white wines when the appellation was first created in 1937. Since the 1990’s it has started producing reds and now – if you explore – you can find some fantastic wines from Merlot, Cabernet and Malbec.

The name of the appellation derives from the town of Sainte-Foy-La-Grande situated eastwards from Castillon-La-Bataille and the last vineyards of the Bordeaux region bordering the Dordogne department and also known as the ‘Porte du Perigord’. Sainte-Foy-La-Grande is a bastide (a fortified town) and was founded way back in 1255 by Alphonse of Poitiers and fortified as protection against the English invaders. The town has a ‘rustic’ charm and if you are in the area don’t miss the fantastic Saturday weekly market which takes over the ancient maze of streets across the whole centre of town.

The first village I came to was Gensac a lively little place even in winter with quite a lot of beret wearing men with baguettes which is always nice to see! As you pass Gensac the landscape starts to form into a line of hills and plateaus overlooking the Dordogne and has a quite different feeling from the rest of the Entre-Deux-Mers. The soils are mainly clay and limestone like the plateau of Saint-Emilion and Castillon.

I had a good drive round the region and visited many unheard-of small producers, all making lovely, fruit-driven wines that were ripe and charming. As always, I like to buy a wine for dinner from the region I have visited but I couldn’t find any wines with the AOC Sainte-Foy Bordeaux on the label. Everyone was bottling as generic Bordeaux and it seemed every shop sold only Bergerac wines … bit of a shame I think.

I finally found a Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux from Château Les Mangons; it was a 2002 so I was a little wary but I was desperate to take one home! It was, however, delicious and was very much alive and well made. Once again it proves Bordeaux is still a place to discover and there are plenty of places to visit. I will certainly be looking out for some more wines from here.

No comments: