Drinking Bordeaux in Blue Jeans

I love Bordeaux. I have many bottles in my cellar and more on the way. Big, opulent, tannic wines. These wines need time – a lot of time – in bottle to integrate in such a way the tannins become smooth and the tertiary notes take center stage. This is the way I like Bordeaux. However, I don’t always want to wait 10+ years to drink Bordeaux; nor do I want to save them for weekends or special occasions. Thank goodness for Côtes de Bordeaux.

Côtes de Bordeaux – known as “Bordeaux in blue jeans” – was created in 2007 through the joining of five appellations – Blaye, Cadillac, Castillon, Francs, and Sainte-Foy – into one distinguishable brand. Located on the right bank of the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers, Côtes de Bordeaux accounts for 10% of all Bordeaux wine production. These small production, family owned wineries craft wines with the standards you expect from Bordeaux, but not the price tag.

These small to medium size growers focus on organic, and even some on biodynamic, practices in the vineyards. Like all Bordeaux, these wineries produce blends from the five Bordeaux grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec), with a Merlot typically playing the dominate role. Côtes de Bordeaux also produces white wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle.

Here are 5 reasons I love Côtes de Bordeaux:

  • The wines are fresh, approachable, ready to drink upon purchase without aging
  • They typically offer a fruit forward profile
  • Some see no oak aging, others are aged for a short time in French oak
  • They can be served slightly chilled for spring and summer refreshment
  • These wines are versatile and super food-friendly
Disclaimer: media samples; all thoughts and opinions my own

This month the French #winophiles are exploring Côtes de Bordeaux. I received four sample from four of the five appellations to discover this region. Building on the last point of food-friendliness, I made 4 different meals paired with 4 different Côtes de Bordeaux wines 4 nights in a row! Here are the results

Blaye: This region is known for its high humidity that re-enforces its maritime climate. A young and vibrant appellation, easily approachable wine makers crafting easily approachable wines; dynamic, modern, and outstanding.

I launched our four nights of Côtes de Bordeaux with a white wine from Blaye. The 2016 Chateau Peybonhomme Les Tours Blanc Bonhomme ($20) 50/50 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. I am already a huge fan of Bordeaux blanc wines and this one did not disappoint. It was crisp with notes citrus and tropical fruit, but my favorite quality was the minerality and pronounced acidity. This wine would pair great with all sorts of lighter fare, I chose Crab Cakes with Spicy Remoulade and Fennel Blood Orange Salad. The pairing was great – the wine joined in the acidity of the salad while rounding out the refreshing nature of the crab cakes and sauce.

Chateau Peybonhomme is run by fifth generation brother and sister Guillaume and Rachel Hubert. It is the largest biodynamic estate in Blaye.

Castillon: Located 45km east of Bordeaux and bordered on the west by St Emilion, it is unique in its array of soils and oceanic towards continental climate. It produces high class designer wines that are easily approachable, at affordable prices; intense and silky with style and flair; fun wines to drink and share.

Our second night we enjoyed the 2015 Chateau Pitray ($15) – 75% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec. I selected this wine the second night to pair with Grilled Lamb Kufta Kebabs, Quinoa Salad with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries, and Chopped Israeli Salad. I suspect the Malbec would add a little depth to the wine, making a great pairing with the lamb- I was correct. I found this to be the boldest of the three reds – black fruit, spice, cedar, more pronounced oak and tannins but still easy to drink and enjoy.

Established in 14th century, Chateau Pitray is a 247 acre estate owned by the Simrad de Pitray family – one of the oldest families to own vineyards in Bordeaux.

Cadillac: Located on the banks of the Garrone, it lies in a thin strip 60 km long and 5 km wide north of Bordeaux to Langon. It is known for its carefully crafted wines, elegant and subtle, sophisticated, always bottled at the chateau.

Our third night I was ready for chicken. We paired the 2015 Chateau Lamothe de Haux ($15) – 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc – with Roast Chicken with Lentils and Yogurt. I selected pairing because I felt this would be lightest of the three reds – and it was. It offered much more juicy fruit, balanced with spice, herbs, and dried tobacco. It balanced out beautifully with the chicken but really dazzled with the black lentils and yogurt sauce. We were on a roll with our food and wine pairings!

Four generations have managed Château Lamothe – with the Chombarts in charge of this190-acre estate since 1956. Succession passes through female side – managed today by Anne Néel and her children, Maria and Damien Chombart. They practice sustainable agriculture and are working towards organic certification.

Sainte-Foy: Located 65km east of Bordeaux on the banks of the Gironde, it benefits from temperate climate and high quality clay-limestone soils; allowing for wines elegant wines full of character, with red fruit and cherry aromas.

I saved what I suspected to the biggest of the three reds for the final night to pair with steak. You cannot drink three Bordeaux wines sequential nights in a row and not have a least one steak! Furthermore, I was sent three cedar grilling planks to try and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to use the merlot soaked plank. 2015 Chateau Couronneau ($19) – 60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon was the wine I selected to pair with a fillet coated in a mixture of herbs and EVOO, wrapped in plastic and marinated overnight in the refrigerator and grilled on a Merlot Beyond Salt and Pepper Plank with Creamed Greens with Farro. Definitely saved the best meal for last. The wine was rich and robust yet balanced and silky smooth on the palate. This wine way over-delivered for $19! This was a great dinner!

Here are more #winophiles discovers of Côtes de Bordeaux:

Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “Côtes de Bordeaux pairings through Blaye, Cadillac & Castillon

Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla offers “Exploring the Côtes de Bordeaux with Simple, Salty, Spicy Nibbles

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Celebrating the Warm Weather with Bordeaux

David from Cooking Chat brings us “Cheesy Beef Casserole with Wine from Côtes de Bordeaux

Nicole from Somm’s Table explores “2 oz Pours: 5 Nights of BDX

Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog offers “Côtes de Bordeaux: Your Go-To For Affordable, Approachable Bordeaux

Gwen from Wine Predator shares “Affordable French: Bordeaux and Burgers for #Winophiles

Rupal the Syrah Queen gives us “5 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Côtes de Bordeaux

Jill of L’Occasion offers a “Guide to the Wines of Côtes de Bordeaux

Lynn of Savor the Harvest shares “Côtes de Bordeaux: A Chateau Carsin Surprise

Jeff at FoodWineClick! shares “Drinking Tuesday Night Bordeaux

Liz Barrett of What’s In That Bottle helps us with “Get to Know Côtes de Bordeaux #Winophiles

Lauren from The Swirling Dervish offers “Côtes de Bordeaux: Why It Should Be on Your Wine Shopping List

Amber of Wine Travel Eats gives us “Salmanazar – Côtes de Bordeaux

These wines may be “Bordeaux in blue jeans,” but we all know blue jeans are our favorite pair of pants. You can wear the same pair to go shopping, to a sporting event, or for a night on the town – it is all in attitude and accessories. Therefore, if Côtes de Bordeaux is the blue jeans of Bordeaux; they are definitely my favorite pair!

My Song Selection: Sorry. What else could I use?

Join our chat this morning at 10CST on Twitter using #winophiles as we discuss more about Côtes de Bordeaux. All are welcome!

16 comments

  1. I’m smiling as I sit here in Bordeaux reading your article (on a sunny afternoon!) Of the wines you tasted, I’ve only had the Château Lamothe de Haux- lighter and delicious. All your pairings make me hungry. I’m glad there are approachable and affordable great wines in Bordeaux. Vive les Côtes!

  2. Love that photo of the hands!

    This is like the ultimate meal prep lineup – everyone should be planning these pairings for next week!

    Great post – thanks for hosting!

  3. Ahh…I was humming your music pairing as soon as I read the title! I love “Bordeaux in blue jeans” as a concept for these wines. Your pairings (and your backyard) look heavenly. I agree with Jill, I kinda want to find all these wines and do your pairings! I need to search out a white wine from the region to try!

  4. You knocked it out of the park with all those food pairings! And I appreciated the extra detail you provided on the five subregions. Thanks for hosting this month and coordinating samples – what a great topic!

  5. That crab cake and white Bordeaux pairing looks and sounds amazing Michelle. I like your point about chilling these wines. Certainly wouldn’t have consider chilling any Bordeaux reds before… but I can see it working!

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