by Paige Donner
Appellation Bordeaux Clairet Controllée
Ni Rouge, Ni Rosé, mais toujours fruité et léger! – Château Penin, Clairet
‘Not red, not rosé, but always refreshingly light and fruity.’
Having tasted my way now through 12 AOC Bordeaux Clairets, I feel qualified to conclude that this is Bordeaux’s answer to the lighter reds of the Loire, Alsace and Burgundy. Like some of those, this wine can be drunk chilled in the summer. It’s also a refreshing alternative to the rampant rosés, mostly from Provence and Languedoc, that populate France’s summertime palate. Never mind that Clairet, as a wine, has been around since the 12th C. All things old are ‘new again!’
In fact, these clairets offer a welcome alternative to a wine that is not quite ‘red’ and certainly not rosé. These are wines of substance, nuance and yet still bursting with fruit and subtle aromatics such as white flowers, mint and white fruits, as well as their standard profile of ripe cherries and sunshine kissed raspberries.
BBQs, summer salads, cold buffets laden with tuna, salmon, trout, charcuterie and grilled vegetables are all in need of a bottle or two of AOC Bordeaux Clairet as accompaniment, served chilled, of course at between 8°C and 10°C.
You can find all of these wines at Planète Bordeaux
And follow the Oscars de Bordeaux wine tasting competition on social media @Oscardbdx
1. Château Boutinet – Le Clairet de Boutinet 2019
Brilliant ruby color, top notes of ripe summer dark cherries,
fruity + dry at the same time; robust chilled summer wine; a bit of a cherry bomb with just a hint of bonbon anglais. Approachable tannins. Lovely expression of AOC Bordeaux Clairet.
Pairing for tangy braised chicken hot off the bbq, grilled vegetable
Organic (& label is a tribute to their – Jerome and Nathalie’s – St. Bernard dog). Nathalie is a wine instructor at the CIVB Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux.
Chateau de Boutinet featured on Échappées Belles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St8ArwOa3yA
Your course offeringis as follows: -45 mn of yoga posture, Asana -15 mn of guided meditation – 30 mn of tasting of 2 wines – 30 mn of discovery of the vineyard in bio conversion Activity to be completely relaxed and enjoy with delight the wine an the present moment Can Mindfulness Meditation and Mindfulness tasting be combined? You will have the answer by practicing!
- Le Clairet de Chelivette 2019
Described as a ‘clairet rosé’ the bright, full of sun raspberry color is fresh and
inviting, organic and biodynamic cultivation by the new (2014)
owners of this 13th c. Chateau. Ample alc. at 14.5%;
Tannins are smooth and subtle
A summer chilled wine for patio dining, poultry, seared Ahi tuna, charcuterie
- Château Lauduc Classic – Bordeaux Clairet
Dark rosé pink with magenta accents; harmonious with a nice acidic balance; nice showing of red fruits here with persistent notes of strawberry, a bit of exotic aromas; 13.5% alc; two brothers, Regis and Hervé Grandeau elaborate these Bordelais family wines; dark robe somewhere between a clairet and a red; plum notes, cherry; long and silky finish ; 75% Merlot, 25% Cab Sauvignon
- Château de Lisennes – Clairet de Lisennes 2019
4th generation of Bordelais winemakers (the Soubie family) This is a clairet that goes well with gourmet meals and can hold its own at a gastronomic outdoor (or indoor) summer meals; fruity, well-balanced, dry. This clairet walks the line between a classic Clairet and a dry Rosé. Notes of raspberry, cassis, a hint of mint.
Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv blend Gold Medal winner 2019 for Concours Générale Agricole and also chosen by the CIVB to represent the Bordeaux Clairet AOC
Vineyard cultivation is organic and/or in the process of conversion and is located in the Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux
- Château Thieuley
Interesting pairings are possible with this Clairet – yakitori salmon, confit chicken gizzard salad (salade de gésiers confits) a French classic! Also Oeufs Bayonnaise. Which all suggest that this is a gastronomic Clairet, to be served chilled and with appropriately accompanying dishes such as a cold buffet.
An abundance of freshness in this wine that offers a new spin on the classic not-quite-red but deeper and more robust than a rosé wine. It figures notably in the prestigious Guide Hachette.
This is a still wine, but its color and aromas offer a nice sparkle to any table. 12.5% alc
- Château Degas
Located in the heart of Entre-Deux-Mers , Chateau Degas AOC Bordeaux Clairet 2019 offers up ripe strawberries, notes of raspberry with supple tannins. The chateau itself calls this their ‘vin d’une nuit’ or ‘wine of the night.’ It’s mostly a Merlot blend, rounded out by the two Cabs, Franc and Sauvignoqn.
This Clairet, like many expressions of this AOC, accompanies spicy dishes nicely. Where rosés may be too light and fruity and a red too robust, this Clairet, served chilled, goes nicely with a light curry, Mexican bbq and also middle eastern spicy-sweet-savory dishes.
Eigth generation now work at cultivating their 100 ha of vines, often with grandma working alongside the granddaughters.
Mostly organic or ‘agriculture raisonnée’ (sustainable agriculture).
- Château Lamothe de Haut
Chilled cherries and ripe strawberries, that is the first sip of this Clairet. While rosés have dominated summer sipping for some time, attuning your palate to a supple yet robust clairet offers up so much more possibilities. Especially when considering difficult pairings such as salads, bbqs and dishes with a bit of kick (spiciness) in them.
This is a fleshier, deeper wine than a rosé even though the vinification process is – nearly – the same as for a rosé. Except here,.the maceration process lasts between 24 and 48 hours.
Fun and fresh, typical of the Bordeaux clairets, it is best to serve this between 8°C and 10°C paired with grilled meats and flavorful vegetables off the bbq, also spicy and exotic foods, like Chinese or Thai or even Mexican. Dominant notes in this Merlot/Cab Franc blend are cherry aromatics. A respectably long finish. They practice sustainable agriculture and Haute Valeur Environnementale vineyard management.
- Marquis de Genissac
Nice balance between power, finesse and softness, this is an exemplary wine of AOC Bordeaux Clairet. Here you have the top notes of red summer fruits like raspberry and strawberry. You’ll find this wine to rival and deepen the complexity of a rosé, while offering more flesh and fruit, though remaining true to its dry wine profile. Smooth tannins, nice acidic balance.
This clairet works as accompaniment for a Paella, salmon pasta dishes, even a tarte Provençale served with spicy charcuterie. You’ll find this wine to be predominantly made from the Merlot varietal. The cave cooperative is located in Entre-Deux-Mers region.
- Château Saint-Catherine Clairet
A deep rose with tendencies towards purple reflections is the color of this expression of Clairet. For the nose, you pick up the juicy freshness of dark reddish-purple table grapes with an accent of sweet, chewy dried fruits. Pizza topped with chorizo and also hand-made fresh pasta are good pairings for this wine. Serve chilled, like all Clairets. Slides easily down the throat. Black ripe fruits tempered by a nice acidity. 100% Merlot.
- Château La Grande Matairie
White fruits, fresh red summer fruits are dominant in this wine’s bouquet, but it’s the hints of citrus that are what set this clairet apart from the rest. It’s an aromatic and expressive wine with just a touch of spice, it’s en point raspberry color first announcing itself as such. Base varietal here is Cab Franc, with
blendings of Merlot and Cab Sauvignon. You’ll find this chateau in the Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux.
Pairing this with salads that accent ruby red grapefruit acidity works, also charcuterie and, of course,
any meats or braised vegetables hot off thegrill.
- Château Caminade Haut Guerin
Here in the village of Genissac, their vineyards are just across the Dordogne River from Pomerol, and they benefit from exceptional soils on gravelly plateaus.
The bouquet of this clairet gives off aromas of white flowers as well as the typique ripe red summer fruits. A touch of spice in the mouth that livens up the white flower notes and here you have a clairet whose supple roundness and balance accompanies a hot/cold summer outdoor buffet or aperitif. The appearance of this wine conforms to its AOC of brilliant, transparent ruby sapphire.
- Château Penin
One of the dominant characteristics of a clairet is its persistent vinosity, without being overpowering or heavy. Chateau Penin is situated in Génissac, so not far from Libourne and Pomerol. The color is that of raspberry sapphire extracted here from its 100% Merlot grapes. Finesse and elegance in the mouth, accentuated by tannins that are more pronounced than a rosé, but not in the least overwhelming. Smooth, acidic balance, fruity. Serve chilled; goes well with slightly spicy Asian foods, like Kung Pao chicken or Korean Bim Bap.
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