That question is heretical as well as flattering to the Bordelais. As the cradle of modern winemaking France and French grape varieties have inspired more of the world's great wines than any other country. Of course each new region (generally) produces wine with its own identity but the inspiration and the props go back to France. So while we are tasting 6 wines this week, the fun part of the show are the three "Bordeaux Blends". One is actually a modest Bordeaux and the other two are Australian and Washington state reds made after the Bordeaux fashion. This is not a contest like "The Judgement of Paris" was (see "Bottle Shock") and we are not out to pick a winner, though we undoubtably will, but rather to demonstrate the sense of place that makes a "good wine" interesting.
It sounds obvious:wine comes from grapes that come from vines that grow in a certain place (terroir) and time (vintage). The time and place influences the wine by virtue of the weather history of a given year as well as the geography and soil composition and the culture that cultivates the grapes and makes the wine. A good wine expresses these factors through its weight, level of tannins, level of ripeness, acidity, evidence of barrel fermenting or aging, and the overall flavor profile in general. This is why a Cabernet from Bordeaux is different from a California Cab, a Washington State Cab, an Australian Cab, A Cab from Navarra or a Cab from Chile.
So in next Saturday's tasting we'll compare a Bordeaux with Bordeaux inspired wines from Australia and Washington State, among other things. Here's the line up
The three Bordeaux blends
Chateau de Macard Bordeaux Superior 2009 Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon. Depending on availability, we might need to substitute an equally tasty Bordeaux
d'Arenberg "Galvo Garage" McClaren Vale Australia 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc
Desert Wind Ruah Red Desert Wind Vineyard 2008 Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc