Writing our first post got me thinking about Bordeaux quite a bit. Yes, Bordeaux has the reputation for being inflexible, but French wine, especially Bordeaux, is steeped in history and tradition. Or, depending on how you look at it, it’s mired in it. It is strictly controlled by the Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system, for better or for worse. Love it or hate it, that’s Bordeaux.
It may not be my favorite wine, but I do love Bordeaux — both the place and the
wine. I don’t know if it’s because I work in IT, where anything three years old is considered ancient, but I’m fascinated by the fact that Bordeaux has been relatively unchanged for centuries. For example, the classification of the left bank estates happened in 1855 – and has hardly been touched since then!
Visiting St. Emilion is a world apart from visiting Napa. There you
don’t just walk in to a nicely decorated tasting room and get samples
poured by some college kid who’s there for the summer. At most of the
places we visited, we were given a tour by the vineyard’s owner – who
also served as winemaker. Their shoes were covered in dirt from working
in the vineyard, and their hands stained purple from making the wine.
It reminded me that they are essentially farmers. They were working on
land that had been in their families for generations. Granted, I’m sure
this is not the case at the first growths of the Medoc, but that was
our experience in St. Emilion.
I like the fact that Bordeaux is
so stuck in their old world ways. I don’t mind the fact that Bordeaux
is not at the forefront of wine innovation. That’s what the new world
is for. To some, the AOC system might seem unnecessarily restrictive,
but Bordelais have been making wine for centuries. I think they’ve got a
pretty good thing going.