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To those who follow Vegan Wines, it should be no surprise that we are big fans of wines from Bordeaux and the region. Bordeaux was Frances' first "official" wine trip for Vegan Wines, and what inspired her to start a vegan online wine club, so it will always have a special place in our heart. To many, Bordeaux might seem old, stuffy and expensive, but there are in fact many exciting, new things happening in this region, including winemakers who farm organically and without any animal by-products. There are a lot of great, inexpensive bottles to choose from that don't need years to develop but are accessible young, and new ones are appearing every day (look for "Côtes de Bordeaux,"a category that was created in 2009). For these reasons, and many more, we wanted to collaborate with someone local to Bordeaux who has their finger on the pulse of what's going on in this amazing part of the wine world. Introducing Sophie Kevany! Sophie is a freelance journalist and writer based in Bordeaux, who also happens to be vegan (score!). Her bio is at the bottom of this post, where you can read more about her. She will be reviewing one wine per week for us and we will be posting these intermittently her on our blog. We thought it might be interesting for everyone to get exposed to different bottles that showcases the region and its vast variety of wines. If you have any questions or Sophie, post them in the comments! The below notes are from Sophie directly. Enjoy! --------------------------------------- GENERAL TASTING NOTE – The moment wine comes into contact with air, or rather oxygen, it begins to change. What we eat, or don’t, with a wine also changes the flavors. So does the temperature (of the wine) and even the mood (of the taster.) Because of all of these different elements, I tend to taste the same wine over several days, with and without food, with the aim being to discover all the different tastes, flavors and textures one bottle can offer. 1.Château Lagarette 2015 (Cuvee Cyrus) – red AOC Côtes de Bordeaux (vegan, biodynamic, no added sulphur.) No fertilizers are used to enrich the soil, making Largarette 100% vegan from vineyard to glass. First day - Quite imbalanced on opening. Overripe fruit flavors ballooning out in one direction, alcohol in the other and port undertones all over the place. I realize it’s quite hot and add some ice. After a few minutes, it regains a little balance. The ice has diluted some of the port flavors and the tannic structure (that dry, almost powdery feel/taste in your mouth) has appeared, but there is still very little acidity or bite. It’s well suited to pasta in tomato, olive and caper sauce though. Second day - Still a little disjointed, but better than yesterday and has been in fridge overnight. Tannins are there, fruit is still a bit overripe, but alcohol has cooled off a good bit. Not the best example of this wine but much more drinkable than last night. Am a good three quarters down the bottle and that in itself says a lot. Does not quite work however with rice and spicy lentils. Third day - On a hot September evening, with the tannins much brighter thanks to a pile of shaved ice and three days in the fridge, plus the air in the bottle having rounded out more of the corners, it has turned into the perfect drink. Only one glass left sadly. Excellent with freshly made hummus on toast.
2. D de Dauzac 2016 First day – After an hour in the fridge, given the smothering heat, the wine is smooth, balanced and full of black cherry smells and tastes. There is another layer under that where it tastes savoury, almost salty. I drink several glasses without thinking much other than that it tastes wonderful. Saltiness is eventually outgunned by black cherry, but I can still feel it somehow. The tannins are soft but present. Excellent with a black bean burger and even survives the vinegar/pickle assault. Second day – Weather remains wildly hot and the Dauzac has been in the fridge overnight. Tannins seem slightly more pronounced, but the overall balance remains perfect and you can barely taste the alcohol. Black cherry velvet are still the words that are quickest to come to mind. But that does not catch the lightness. It’s easy to drink a second and third glass. Bean burgers mark two and it works just as well, even with added lime pickle and extra mustard. Third day – I once asked someone who had worked at Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou what it meant to say a wine was ‘good’. He said: the good wines are the ones you want to drink more of, and because you drink more of it, you end up having a party, and then all the good wine is all gone. It reminded me of what Saki (H. H. Munroe) said about cooks: she was a good cook, as cooks go. And as good cooks go, she went. All that to say, there is no third day, because the Dauzac was gone on the second night.
3. Le Fruit de Château Grenet, 2016 (no added sulphur) The Grenet wines are vegan from the soil up, say the producers who only use vegetable-based fertilizers. Although Le Fruit de Grenet is not available in the US, Christophe Rebillou, one of the four-person production team, said two others from the same estate can be found there: Château Grenet and Petite Grenet. First day – The first thing that hits you is lots of dark fruit, mostly blackberry. The aromas are wonderful, but it takes a few minutes to work out what else is there. A good bit of alcohol (14%), but it’s so well balanced you hardly notice it. I have to think a bit to taste, or rather feel, a clear tannic bite (like strong tea) but it’s definitely there. And despite all the fruit and power and richness, there’s great fresh finish. Very good with eggplant in red curry sauce. By the time I work all that out, I have definitely had three glasses and have to stop myself pouring a fourth. School night. Second day – Still lots of blackberry, but more acidic blackcurrant flavors are also coming through now, as well as a clearer tannic structure. The weather is also a little bit cooler, which helps. Definite minty flavors at the finish, as well as a bit of tobacco, cigar box, apple and some coffee notes. Another three glasses swiftly disappear down my gullet. Third day – Only about half a glass left. That’s always a good sign. The flavors are much more muted, but what was left is swiftly gone. Does not even make it to the dinner table. Note to self: ask the people who gave it to me where they bought it. **********************
Sophie Kevany is a journalist, writer and researcher. Over the last 20 years she has worked and written for AFP, the BBC, Dow Jones, Decanter, IBM, Wine Business International and The Irish Times, as well as a range of other publications. Born in Washington DC and brought up in Ireland in the 1970’s when central heating was the height of luxury and U2 were forbidden from practising in her school gym. She has also lived in Norway (where she passed the lutefisk eating test with flying colours and lots of aquavit), South Africa, Peru and France. She loves wine, has been vegan for almost three years, swims city rivers, surfs very badly (but with great enthusiasm: a very uncool combination) and has been based in Bordeaux, on and off, since 2004.