Gaja Ca' Marcanda Camarcanda 2001
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The area boasts an excellent climate for growing international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah. Hot summer days are freshened by brisk sea breezes and cool nighttime temperatures, ideal for fully ripened grapes.
The alluvial soil is unique in that it consists of two distinct types: terre brune ("dark earth", predominately loam and clay, with very little limestone or stone) and terre bianche ("white earth", primarily clay and sand, rich in limestone and filled with abundant stones and pebbles of different sizes).
It is in this region that wine icon Angelo Gaja, owner of the Gaja Winery, began a new winemaking venture — Ca'Marcanda. His aim was to transfer the experience of his Piemontese culture to the Maremma - to first acquire a thorough understanding of the potential of the different soil types and then to emphasize their specificity and uniqueness in the wines that are produced. The Maremma provides a perfect opportunity to apply this experience to growing international varieties. In 1996, along the road between Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci, Gaja began planting 150 acres of vineyards, primarily with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but also Cabernet Franc and Syrah.
An outstanding wine region made famous by Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, who planted Cabernet Sauvignon vines for his own consumption in 1940s on his San Guido estate, and called the resulting wine, Sassicaia. Today the region’s Tuscan reds are based on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which can be made as single varietal wines or blends. The local Sangiovese can make up no more than 50% of the blends. Today Sassicaia has its own DOC designation within the Bogheri DOC appellation.
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 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.
Tasting Notes for Bordeaux Blends
Bordeaux Blends are dry, red wines and generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, black cherry plum, graphite, cedar and violet. 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.
Perfect Food Pairings for Bordeaux Blends
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.
Sommelier Secrets for Bordeaux Blends
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.