Bordeaux is the most recognised wine region in the world. It's connection to Britain goes back centuries. And its wines have their own nickname – claret.
It is also something I found immediately intimidating as a novice wine drinker. Like Burgundy, Bordeaux is a web of complexity, obscurity, and potentially eye-watering expense. Its prominence means that you'll find a Bordeaux wine in almost every supermarket you walk into. And the vast majority of those you'll taste won't ever be that good.
It is a region whose top wines command tens of thousands of pounds and dollars at auctions. The top wines go on sale before they've been made. And the image we have in our subconscious of a wine chateau almost certainly stems from some of the centuries-old Bordeaux estates. It is a region which begs the question of just how much wine can ever be worth. And for many, will no doubt be the source of incredulity.
When I got into wine a few years ago, I found the notion of Bordeaux overwhelming. Its classification system dictates that there are five first growths – Lafite, Latour, Margaux, Haut-Brion, and Mouton. For which a case of six 2010s would cost at least a few thousand pounds.
Beneath the first growths, there are 14 second growths, 15 third growths, 10 fourth growths, and 18 fifth growths. These are spread across two banks of the river, and 60 appellations. Each with its own style. Unlike Burgundy where one red grape rules supreme, in Bordeaux there six permitted varieties. Each of Bordeaux's many thousand chateaux can blend those in any way they want.
Take into account vintages, and you could spend your entire life trying a different Bordeaux every day, and still barely touch the surface.
Claret is versatile for food pairing. From cured meats and terrines, through to grilled meats, and heartier stews, you'll likely find a good match. Bordeaux will typically have flavours of black currants, violets, plums, graphite, and cedar.
At Wine List, we've never sent out a Bordeaux before. But as we started thinking about our Christmas box, we knew one had to feature. But should we approach, when our focus is on the lesser-known wines of the world?
Galouchey's Vin De Jardin is the answer.
The name Vin de Jardin stems from 'vins de garage.' This movement and name emerged in the mid-1990s as a reaction to some of the bigger, higher alcohol, more tannic Bordeaux that was emerging. Vin de Jardin is a riposte to that name.
Galouchey's wine can't even be called a Bordeaux. It's nestled in the lesser-known Entre-Deux-Mers appellation, but because it includes a blend of unofficial grapes, it can't carry the name of Bordeaux on its label.
And what are those grapes? They use every permitted grape available – but for both red and white varieties. That means there's semillon, muscadelle, and both sauvignons blanc and gris included in the mix. This might on a trendier label be called a field blend.
The wine is imported by Keeling & Andrew, which is the importing team behind Noble Rot – where you'll see this on their menus for £60 per bottle.
This has aromas of cloves, blackcurrant, red plums, black pepper, violets, cedar, and earthiness on the nose. The tannins are present but approachable, and it makes this a perfect wine to drink now.
All in all, it felt like the perfect choice for us to share in our Christmas box. It's not attempting to be something it's not, and the winemaking has far more in common with our usual winemakers than many in Bordeaux. But it is distinctly a Bordeaux wine – and an incredible value one at that.
Vin de Jardin is available as part of our Six Drinks of Christmas for £200. Or by itself for £34 per bottle.