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Chateau Tirecul La Graviere Monbazillac La Graviere (500 ML) 1996
They deliver an extraordinary complexity of aromas, their glory revealed in the mouth with a rich creaminess and a rare power, never with heaviness. This cuvee is known around the world as an absolute reference.
It was in the winter of 1992 that Claudie and Bruno Bilancini (a designer and oenologist couple by trade) had the extraordinary luck of being able to lease one of the top sites in Monbazillac, the Cru de Tirecul (one of the ancient premier cru sites in the AOC.) Even though the vineyard and small cave were in disrepair, they cared for it as if it were their own, and in 1997, realized their dream of owning the property. Now, Tirecul la Graviere is recognized as the top property of the AOC. The fame of Chateau Tirecul la Graviere has spread far and wide over the last several years. Most notably, Robert Parker has awarded the property two 100 point scores and compared it with Sauterne’s Chateau d’Yquem. With good acidity and a solid backbone, these wines can last for decades under optimal storage conditions, a rarity for wines from this area of Southwest France. These wines are magical, defining examples of the best that Monbazillac can offer and more.
Offering the perfect balance of quality and value, Southwest, France is a recognized appellation that encompasses all wine regions in France’s southwestern corner (except for Bordeaux and Cognac, which merit their very own). Two of the more famous subregions here are Cahors, known for its Malbec, and Madiran, home of the robust Tannat grape. Bordeaux Blends are also popular red wines of the Southwest; Petit Manseng is the regions’s star autochthonous white variety.
Sometimes light and crisp, other times rich and creamy, Bordeaux white blends typically consist of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Often, a small amount of Muscadelle or Sauvignon Gris is included for added intrigue. This blend was popularized in the Bordeaux region of France (where it also comprises outstanding sweet wines like Sauternes and Barsac), but is often mimicked throughout the New World, particularly in California, Washington and Australia.
In the Glass
Sémillon provides the background to this blend, with a relatively full body and an oily texture. Sauvignon Blanc adds acidity and lots of bright fruit flavor, particularly white grapefruit, lime and freshly cut grass. Used in smaller proportions, Muscadelle can contribute fresh floral notes, while Sauvignon Gris is less aromatic but offers ripe, juicy fruit on the palate. These wines run the gamut from unoaked, refreshing, and easy to drink to serious, complex and barrel-aged. The latter style, usually with a higher percentage of Sémillon, can develop aromas of ginger, chamomile and dried orange peel. The dessert wines produced by these blends, often with the help of "noble rot" called botrytis, can have lush stone fruit and honey characteristics.
Crisp, dry Bordeaux white blends are the perfect accompaniment for raw or lightly cooked seafood, especially shellfish. A more structured, Sémillon-based bottling can stand up to richer fish, chicken, or pork dishes in white sauces. These blends also work well with a variety of vegetables and fresh herbs, like asparagus, peas, basil and tarragon. Sweet dessert wines are traditionally enjoyed with strong blue cheeses, foie gras or fruit-based desserts.
Sauternes and Barsac are usually reserved for dessert, but astute sommeliers know that they can be served at any time—before, during or after the meal. Try these sweet wines as an aperitif with jamón ibérico, oysters with a spicy mignonette or during dinner alongside hearty Alsatian sausage, poached lobster in beurre blanc sauce or even fried chicken.