Sunday, February 1, 2009

Two Surprising Bordeaux With Pizza

American Flatbread pizzaI typically pair pizza with Italian reds. What could be more appropriate with an herbed, zingy, mushroom-laden pie than a fresh, earthy, acid-driven, modestly-priced rosso of the kind found up and down the boot?

Still, there's a world of reds in the world, and no need to turn a good idea into a foolish consistency.

I recently took a risk on two red Bordeaux. I say "risk" because I rarely find red Bordeaux acceptable, let alone interesting. We too often get soupy spoof at the higher end and hollow, industrial plonk at the low end. So I assure you that my expectations were exceeded by the following two wines, in the latter case dramatically so.

Château Lamarche Bordeaux Supérieur 2006
What could you possibly hope from a $16 red Bordeaux? Well, maybe you could hope for, but not expect, a claret — a good, solid, everyday drinker. And yet, here this is: a claret! The '06 Lamarche Bordeaux Supérieur is ripe but dry, soft yet structured, with refreshing acidity and a decent shot of minerality. No excess oak, no apparent spoof. And while the Fronsac-based Lamarche's ripeness and dark color is modern, it clocks in at a relatively old-school 13% abv. I drank this with an American Flatbread pizza and found the experience satisfying.

Chateau Tourte des Graves 2005
The 2005 Tourte des Graves was fantastic. In fact, it was kind of a shame to pair this wine with our ho-hum delivered pizza. This is a classic Bordeaux in the classic sense of the word classic. Its firm, masculine tannins and lovely acidity buttress a core of deep dark fruit, especially blackcurrant, but it's the gravelly minerality that really stands out (yes, this is a true Graves, so go figure). Completing the package are some nice smoke and spice notes that hold on the long finish.

This 2005 Tourte des Graves — 66% merlot, hand-harvested, and though matured in 50% new oak for 15 months, maquillage-free — drinks more like 13.5% than its purported 12.5%, but that's no vice in this lovely, balanced wine, and I expect it'll become still deeper and more complex in the next several years. At $28 I consider this a great value.


Anonymous said...

Hey - good thing you weren't trying this in Italy! ;-)

Wicker Parker said...

I am very surprised to hear this! I couldn't be more surprised than if you told me that the citizens of Nantes shun Muscadet with fish.

Myself, I'd no sooner abandon red wine with pizza than I'd hope that we form new governments every three months or so...