In these worrying times of lockdown, self-isolation and social distancing, choosing wine will often depend on who can deliver. Fortunately, there are many independent wine merchants who are able to offer a home delivery service. Below are a couple of recommendations which you can enjoy without setting foot too far outside your front door!
Bordeaux is among the most famous, historic and renowned wine areas of the world. Yet here in the UK, there are subregions and styles that still remain relatively unfamiliar.
Lalande de Pomerol lies just north of the renowned Pomerol appellation, separated by the Barbanne river. The appellation has two communes which tend to produce different styles of wine. Néac has the best terroir with well-draining clay and gravel soils, similar to its more illustrious neighbour. The Lalande de Pomerol commune is flatter with sandier soils, generally producing lighter styles of wine. Merlot is the dominant grape, but is particularly successful in Néac, while Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec are also planted.
A layer of iron oxide, called "crasse de fer", is often found in the subsoil, similar to Pomerol. Many producers in the region believe this iron-rich clay imbues their wines with structure, complexity and unique character.
Château Garraud uses traditional expertise and modern winemaking knowledge to create wines of distinction, elegance, depth and ageing potential. Their 'first wine' comes from a vineyard of around 36 hectares, located on the geological prolongation of the Pomerol plateau. This contains varied soils of clay, gravel and silt and vines are an average age of 29-years old.
The 2014 vintage saw an early bud break due to a particularly warm winter. Cooler weather in May extended the flowering process, while June was very hot. Summer was variable with frequent storms, but September conditions were excellent.
This wine is made from a blend of 87% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was aged 25% in new oak barrels, 35% in one and two-year old barrels and 40% in vats.
This is an elegant wine that has room to develop over the next few years, but is ready to enjoy now particularly with a beef casserole. It is available from Christopher Piper Wines - RRP £21.95.
Another wine style that's perhaps easy to overlook, in favour of well-known global brands from the Loire to New Zealand, is Bordeaux Blanc.
White wine has been made in Bordeaux for 1000 years and it was only in 1970 that red wine production surpassed that of white. Indeed, its global importance was such that in 1864, the first Sauvignon Blanc cuttings bound for California were taken from the region.
There are two principal styles of Bordeaux Blanc:-
Classic Bordeaux Blanc is based on a blend of the two most planted varietals - Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Sauvignon Blanc grows well in Bordeaux's milder climate on limestone or clay soils and gives aromatic, floral, zesty notes. Semillon prefers the well-drained clay, gravel or limestone soils of Graves, Pessac-Léognan and Côtes de Bordeaux. It delivers structure, roundness and colour, along with an often oilier texture. The third most planted varietal is Muscadelle, grown mostly in Entre-Deux-Mers and Côtes de Bordeaux. This provides additional floral and musky orange zest aromas to blends, as well as softening out some of the acidic/citrus zestiness of Sauvignon Blanc. The remaining 4% of grape varieties are comprised of Colombard (sometimes used to improve ageing potential), Ugni Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, Merlot Blanc, Mauzac and Ondenc.
In 2011, Château Guiraud became the first Grand Cru Classé to be awarded Agence Bio (AB) certification, having used organic farming methods since 1996. They actively promote biodiversity and a study in 2010 found 635 species of insects and spiders in their vineyards! The 100 hectares of vineyards are planted with 65% Semillon and 35% Sauvignon on a mix of 80% sandy gravel and 20% clay gravel soils. Uniquely, the Sauternes estate also maintains its own reserve of 135 original strains of these two famous grape varieties.
G de Guiraud 2017 is made from a blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Sémillon from vines with an average age of 35-years old. It was fermented for three weeks, split 80% in oak barrels used for the previous year's Sauternes Premier Grand Cru Classé and 20% in stainless steel tank. The wine was then aged for approximately seven months in barrel with regular lees-stirring.
This wine has many food pairing possibilities, particularly fish, including turbot or trout in a beurre blanc or lemon cream sauce. It is available from Davy's Wine Merchants - RRP £17.50.