Côtes de Bordeaux is a collection of five regions in the Bordeaux area of France. Four regions formed a union in 2009: Côtes de Blaye, Côtes de Castillon, Côtes de Francs and Côtes de Cadillac. Two years ago a fifth region joined: Sainte-Foy Bordeaux. The regions in Côtes de Bordeaux are not contiguous. They do cluster around the rivers that run through Bordeaux. The vineyards are mostly planted in clay-limestone soils. The regions in Côtes de Bordeaux have about thirty thousand acres under vine. (Napa Valley has about forty-five thousand acres). These thirty thousand acres represent about ten percent of the total in Bordeaux.
The red wines from Côtes de Bordeaux are blends with Merlot as the primary variety, with the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc.
What makes it worth looking for wines from Côtes de Bordeaux is that these regions are not as well-known as, for example, Saint-Émilion; which borders Côtes de Castillon. This lack of fame is reflected in prices that are more affordable.
The wine that I tasted for this article had a rather uninformative label. It stated the origin, the vintage, and the name of the wine: Salmanazar. Usually, wines from Côtes de Bordeaux also tell you from which of the five regions the wine was sourced, but not in this case. The wine’s name is also a little confusing. Salmanazar is one of the biblical names given to large wine bottles; Jeroboam and Rehoboam being another two. A Salmanazar is a nine-litre bottle, holding as much wine as a full case of regular bottles.
This 2009 Salmanazar cost $13. The nose was an appealing first impression with blackberry leading the way backed up with aromas of a damp creek and drying flower petals. The first sip was not as rich with fruit as the nose had suggested; earth and dusty tannins dominated, with muted fruits very much in the background. The finish is fairly light. If a Napa Cab is the taste of ripe summer fruits, this wine is the last taste of summer as the year fades to a dry and mellow autumn. Overall, I quite liked the wine and it tastes better than the $13 price point would suggest.
We paired the wine with two different dishes, a simple cheese plate with some chunks of smoked ham and crackers and Hanger steak with fries. Whilst the wine was ok with the cheese, it really came into life with the barbecued hangar steak. The wine added a smokiness to the flavor of the meat making it feel far more luxurious in the mouth. If you are going to pair this with cheese, we found that it really needs a strong cheddar to stand up to it.
Here is a list of our group #Wineophiles and what they have had to say about their experience with Côte de Bordeaux. All of the posts will be live on Saturday, May 19.
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”
Michelle from Rockin Red Blog writes about “Drinking Bordeaux in bluejeans”