Production


canon-de-brem.JPGA story from Decanter.com caught my eye this morning (it’s well worth subscribing to the Decanter.com news feed, by the way) relating, as it did, to a wine I bought a case of only last week – the Canon de Brem 2002 Canon-Fronsac. 

The owner of the chateau has decided to “declassify” the wine and turn it into the second wine of Chateau la Dauphine, which he also owns.  La Dauphine is in the Fronsac AC and, although obviously closely related, Canon-Fronsac is often regarded as the more prestigious of the two, so some might think it odd to declassify the Canon-Fronsac and make it the second wine of a Fronsac.

The simple answer seem to be that there’s greater awareness of La Dauphine amongst consumers.  In fact, the owner Guillaume Halley (just 29 years old) says that every year they sell out of La Dauphine but have a stock of Canon de Brem left, so it sounds like a pretty straightforward commercial decision to bring Canon de Brem under the La Dauphine banner.  He does also own supermarlets, after all, so knows how to shift stuff!

Still, after the 2006 vintage, Canon de Brem will cease to exist (as a name, at least) so there might be some rarity value in my small collection, if nothing else.

etiquette_connetable.jpgI popped into the Carrefour supermarket in nearby Saintes on Friday.  I hadn’t been in there for a while and thought I should check out its wine department (in addition to needing to pick up a few provisions while Michelle was busy in the town centre sales…).  I was accompanied my little boy Jacques.  He’s nearly three and is become quite familiar with the wine departments of a number of supermarkets in the area.  It’s tricky though, as invariably the wine sections are right at the opposite end of the supermarket from the entrance, so by the time we reach them Jacques is getting a little impatient with the whole shopping thing. 

He gave me a few minutes on Friday for a browse and, having taken the Oz book along, I found a relatively small but well-stocked section.  I was immediately attracted to a St-Julien called Connétable Talbot for one specific reason: it was from the fantastic 2000 vintage.  It’s actually quite unusual to see anything from 2000 on the shelves nowadays – most of it has already been snapped up – especially something from such a well-regarded AC as St-Julien.  I had a hunch that this wine would be connected to the extremely well-known Château Talbot and Oz confirmed that Connétable Talbot is Château Talbot’s second wine (the picture here isn’t of my bottle’s label – hence the 2002 vintage).

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I got an email yesterday from Ian,  a friend (and ex-client) who also own a house here in France, further to the south-west from us, though unfortunately he isn’t based here permanently.  He asked an interesting question, one which had puzzled him for a while:  “Why do Bordeaux wine bottles traditionally have long thin necks and Burgundy wine bottles have short necks with more rounded shoulders?  Is it to reflect the physique of the local inhabitants?”

It’s true, of course (the bit about the bottles, not necessarily the suggested answer!).  Bordeaux wine bottles are recognisable through being taller and slimmer than their squat, round-shouldered Burgundy equivalents.  The only local answer I’ve been able to find is: “That’s just the way it is.  Always has been, always will be” (accompanied by a shrug of slim, angular shoulders).

A plausible answer found online is that, as Bordeaux wines, generally having been aged longer, contain a greater amount of sediment, the sharper shoulders of the bottle help trap it as the wine is poured and reduce the amount that finds its way into the glass.  But I prefer Ian’s answer.

I did dig up some other interesting (to me, at least) “bottle facts” during my research.  Did you know, for instance, that Bordeaux wine producers are gradually using darker and darker glass for their wine, as the potentially detrimental effects that bright light can have on the wine become better understood?  It’s also a reflection of the fact that more people are storing their wine in less dark places (e.g. the kitchen over a cellar).

Also, many Bordeaux wine producers won’t produce half-bottles of their wines, because they beleive that the air:wine ratio in a half bottle is too high and will, over time, damage the wine.  In fact, the ideal size for maturing wine is thought to be a magnum (1,5 litres) which is why, very often, you’ll pay more for a magnum than you will for two “standard” 75cl bottles (something which has puzzled me for a while).

You learn something new everyday.

etipontet.jpgGrapes are obviously quite important in the wine production process.  Like me, you might have grown up thinking that there were basically four types of grape: green seedless ones, green ones with pips and black ones (with and without).  Of course, we all know that there are loads of different types of grape used in wine production.  Thing is, unless you know your stuff, it’s very difficult (if not impossible) to know what type of grape has been used in the production of a French bottle of wine.  I mean, look at this label…yes, it’s got a pretty picture and a fancy name, but what the hell’s in the bottle?

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