As Christmas approaches and we begin to pile our plates high, what more do you need than a good glass of red? But when you have various members of the family coming around with their highfalutin words when it comes to which grapes or styles they prefer, it can be a bit complicated knowing what to buy. Usually the most expensive bottles should be the way forward right? Wrong.
The Médoc in Bordeaux may be well-known for its ultra-premium, age-worthy reds, but the French region is also home to a wealth of superb wines that are not only delicious but also won’t break the bank. From wines that can be paired with the festive fine foods we insist on gorging on, to great value bottles that can be enjoyed with friends, Médoc is an area that overdelivers.
Bottles that don’t break the bank
Médoc’s new reds are challenging long-held perceptions of the region of Bordeaux. Fresh and fruit-forward in style, today’s unexpected blends offer such a wide variety of choice – and at a suitable price.
Médoc is one of the best-known areas of Bordeaux in South Western France and is located on the ‘left bank’ of the river Garonne. It covers two different sub-regions, the Médoc and Haut-Médoc and six communes. From North to South the communes include Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Listrac, Moulis and Margaux. These appellations produce wines available for all palates and price points.
There is a strong Cabernet Sauvignon influence in the area, but Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot are also typically blended to enhance the final wine.
Médoc's new reds are challenging long-held perceptions of the region of Bordeaux
Less oak and more fruit
The unique thing about new Bordeaux reds is that they have great ageing potential but can also be consumed young. This is down to the process that takes the grapes from the vineyard to the cellar. First, grapes are harvested at the peak of ripeness to retain fresh fruity aromas. The grapes then undergo a shorter and gentler maceration cycle (when the grapes are broken down and begin fermenting into wine) than is typical, to help keep the wine bright and approachable. Finally, the wines spend less time in oak barrels for more fruity flavours.
Winemakers are also opting for less new oak and larger barrels to preserve freshness. Some remove the wood entirely, and opt for neutral vessels like stainless-steel tanks or terracotta amphorae.
New winemakers, new ideas
Say goodbye to stuffy nights around the dinner table – easy-drinking wines are becoming more and more popular thanks to a new generation of winemakers in Médoc.
With the inclusion of grape varieties like Petit Verdot, Carménère and Malbec, it allows winemakers to develop highly personalised blends. Even the tiniest addition can have a big impact. There are also lots of people making vegan and sulphite-free options, after growing demand. Decorated in bright, new labels and bottles, the whole scene is having a complete makeover.
These new blending and growing techniques, also allow more time to be spent on creating more sustainable practices. In Bordeaux, more than 75% of the wineries are certified as sustainable.
Say goodbye to stuffy nights around the dinner table – easy-drinking wines are becoming more and more popular
Pairing with food
Médoc wines are full of flavour and perfectly suited for the Christmas table. Rich, hearty dishes – like the famous turkey roast – go so well with a glass of fruity red. To create the best Médoc pairing, food should have enough flavour and texture to balance out the bold red wines on the table. In fact, the wines’ structure and flavours are excellent companions to beef dishes, like cottage pie, as they soften the wines’ tannins and highlight the seriously fruity flavours.
Now you know what you’re talking about, you can lead the charge at the Christmas dinner table with all your fascinating facts!