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Chateau du Gaby 2008
Home of the very first remarkable Right Bank wines, dating back to the 1730s, Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac actually retained more fame than Pomerol well into the 19th century. Today these wines represent some of Bordeaux’s best hidden gems.
Fronsac is a very small region at an unusually high elevation compared to other Bordeaux appellations. Its vineyards unroll along the oak-dotted hills bordering the river’s edge, making it perhaps Bordeaux’s prettiest and most majestic countryside.
Merlot covers 60% of the vineyard acreage; the rest of the vines are Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac appellations are limited to the higher land where soils are predominantly limestone and sandstone. Lower vineyards along the Dordogne River mainly qualify for Bordeaux AOC status
The best Fronsac are deeply concentrated in ripe red and black berry; they have a solid mineral backbone and are rich and plush on the finish.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington, and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde river, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.
In the Glass
Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux can be bold and fruit-forward or restrained and earthy, while New World facsimiles tend to emulate the former style. In general, Bordeaux red blends can have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.
Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful, and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb, or smoked duck.
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or virtually any other grape deemed worthy by the winemaker. In Australia, Shiraz is a common component.