Wine fit for a King (or Queen)

Posted on: 05 May 2011 by Rhian Mainwaring

Pieter Rosenthal ponders the wine selection at the Royal wedding and offers up his regal winner!

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Considering the current availability and average price of a bottle, it’s surprising that wine used to be very much a drink for royalty and the upper classes. Claret was the choice of those wanting to make an impression and somehow that name and its image has stuck. 

Mention Claret to the average consumer and they will imagine a French red wine, perhaps even more specifically Bordeaux. Claret actually came from the word ‘Clairette’ meaning a light coloured red wine and it looked more like a modern rosé. It came from Bordeaux, and was definitely not made for ageing, which is why today it is often used as a generic name for red Bordeaux. It has fallen out of favour now is regarded as pretty old-fashioned. 

These days Bordeaux is famous, or perhaps infamous, for its system of buying en-primeur. You pay your money now for the latest vintage wines and then patiently wait for however many years it takes to become accessible, before actually taking delivery of your wine. A bit like buying a house off-plan I suppose, although you wouldn’t necessarily pay for your house upfront. The system is really only of interest if you’re thinking about buying the wines at the very top level. Think names like Chateau Lafite and Chateau Latour for example. 

Over the past few years these wines have increased in value considerably, due to an increasingly lucrative Chinese market, but this is really only true for a handful of top players. Most Bordeaux can be bought, ready for drinking, without having to resort to this system, although that does not necessarily mean cheap or good!

Other than the fact Pol Roger Champagne will be served at the Royal Wedding, I have no idea as I write what the wine of choice will be when it comes to the banquet. I am pretty sure this month’s wine didn’t make it to the list, but it’s well worth sampling. I think it shows how good, the usually much less popular, dry white Bordeaux wines are.  This is a good quality example at a very reasonable price, after all isn’t that what most of us want from our wines anyway?

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Chateau Bonnet Blanc Reserve

Entre-Deux-Mers 2010

Bibendum - £9.80 

White Bordeaux is perhaps not as popular as the red wines but I love this great example of why it should be much more popular. Typically these wines are made from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle. Entre-Deux-Mers literally means ‘between two seas’ and refers to its position in Bordeaux where the area is situated in between two main rivers. This is excellent dry white wine country. Don’t expect the rather extreme style you may get from a New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. This is altogether friendlier and from a great Bordeaux producer called André Lurton. The fruit is very expressive, fresh in a more approachable way than many New Zealand Sauvignons. Lemon, grapefruit and white flowers, with a very generous and ripe palate that has the zest of lemon juice and the richness of passion fruit. A great match to slightly spicy foods. I tried it with Asian Roast Salmon. It was done with soy sauce and the sweetness the sauce introduced matched the wine perfectly.

Pieter Rosenthal for www.lovethatwine.co.uk

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