Bargain wine from Gironde banks

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Bargain wine from Gironde banks


From left: Clos des Menuts Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Chateau Tour Grand Faurie and Chateau Pipeau Saint-Emilion Grand Cru.

The region of Bordeaux, about 350 miles southwest of Paris, is home to vast plains of grape trees and wineries surrounding the Gironde River. Dotting this famed picturesque landscape are Chateaus, exquisite mansions where some of the world’s finest wines are produced.

Bordeaux wine was the focus of the JoonAng Ilbo’s latest “Wine Consumer Report” produced with wine retailer WineNara and Vino Lab. As the region itself is one of the most fruitful grape producers, Bordeaux wine greatly varies in terms of price.

The report’s evaluation was limited to 23 bottles of Bordeaux wine sold in the market with a price tag between 50,000 won ($43.19) and 100,000 won. Eleven wine specialists and 109 consumers participated in a blind test.

The results between expert sommeliers and casual drinkers were consistent. Bottles slightly under 100,000 won filled the top ranks, and three out of five overlapped between both groups, suggesting the public’s taste for wine is not far from that of seasoned sommeliers.

Both groups said the top wine was Chateau Pipeau, a blend of 90 percent merlot and 5 percent cabernet sauvignon. Experts were more generous with their score, 90.2 out of 100, while the public’s score was 84.47. “This wine is strong with a good balance,” Millennium Seoul Hilton’s sommelier, Woo Jae-gyu, said. “It is a good match with meat.”

The other two bottles were Chateau Tour Grand Faurie, third in the specialists’ list with 85.88 points and second in the public’s list with 83.04 points, and Chateau Villa Bel-Air Red, ranked fifth by specialists with 82.88 points and third by the public with 82.73 points.

Clos de Menuts and Chateau Lavagnac ranked second and fourth on the specialists’ list but failed to make the top ranks of casual drinkers. Among the public’s list, fourth-place Chateau La Clare and fifth-place Chateau Magnol were left out from the specialists’ top five. In general, wines based on merlot grapes received better results than cabernet sauvignon.

Even though they are produced in the same region, Bordeaux wines can differ based on the grape varieties with which they are made. Wineries in the left bank of the Gironde - like Medoc, Grave and Pessac-Leognan - frequently use cabernet sauvignon. The right-bank wineries - with Saint-Emilion and Pomerol - mainly use merlot for a base.

Merlot has a soft and sweet taste, while cabernet sauvignon contains more tannin.

“When the Bordeaux boom was at its height 10 years ago, Merdoc was the most popular wine-producing region, but now, the map is more diversified with the rise of right-bank regions,” said Park Sang-hoon, CEO of Vino Lab, which developed a mobile app that provides information on wine.

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