Bordeaux is the largest wine appellation in France, with close to 7,000 producers. But how many do we hear about other than the 61 Grand Cru châteaux plus a handful from Pomerol and Saint-Émilion? Most of their wines are often excellent, all of them always expensive, with the extraordinary 2010 vintage being offered by some châteaux for $1,000 or more a bottle.
What makes a wine that expensive? The soil in which its grapes were grown, a reputation dating back 150 years and, to a great degree, demand.
Still, these stratospherically priced wines account for only about 5 percent of Bordeaux’s output. Among the rest lies an abundance of good wines at affordable prices, wines I found on a recent trip through Bordeaux. And of particular interest are those in the Cru Bourgeois category that retail in the United States for about $25 to $50.
Château d’Agassac, with its 13th-century château, is one of the oldest estates in the Médoc. It has been making wine since the 18th century and currently produces 250,000 bottles a year, most of them under its major label, Château d’Agassac, the rest under two lesser labels. I very much liked the château label’s 2009, a bright-shaded wine with harmonious balance, fresh fruit aroma and good concentration. Its 2010 is still a baby, purple as young red wines are, with lively acidity, already showing a satiny body and lingering finish.
Château Paveil de Luze, another Cru Bourgeois with a long history, had vineyards in the 17th century and has a 150-year history of winemaking. Its 2010, while quite young as wines of that recent vintage are, scores an “A” for promise with good color, lovely balance, tantalizing fruit flavors and complexity.
Château Les Grands Chênes was a fort in the 16th century and a winery since 1880. Its young wine reveals a beguiling fresh fruitiness, liveliness and a slight hint of coffee and vanilla in the aroma.
Château Petit Bocq was a bit slow to open, but when it did, it revealed ripe berry flavors, deep color, medium body and hints of the pleasures to come with maturity.
And these are only a few of the unsung pleasures affordable Bordeaux offers.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced plans to take over an existing hotel in Switzerland. The property is undergoing extensive renovations in preparation to open at the end of next year as Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern. The property was previously Hotel Palace Luzern, on the shores of Lake Lucerne and in the heart of the city; it originally opened in 1906.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.
As part of Germany’s climate package, a plan to reduce emissions, the country will raise departure taxes at German airports. Taxes will go up as much as 60 percent, and are expected to raise up to €740 million. The funds will then be used to lower VAT on rail fares from 19 percent to 7 percent.
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Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.