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Patache d’Aux An Affordable Introduction To Bordeaux

Chateau Patache d’Aux 2013, Medoc

Cost: $24-26

For many Americans the most famous wine area in the world is California, but for most of the world it has been France. California may be catching up and certainly has equaled French wines in quality, but the gold standard for centuries has been France.

Within France Bordeaux arguably has been the best (with apologies to Burgundy), and within Bordeaux, the largest region is the Medoc. Many of the best wines in the world come from Medoc.

Today’s wine can hold its own with those top wines without emptying your wallet. The Chateau Patache d’Aux 2013 ($24-26) won’t be mistaken for a First Growth, but it is a wonderful wine. It is a perfect introduction to Bordeaux wine.

In the glass it is a deep garnet with some purple highlights. Blackberry aromas with an herbal hint hit you first before the first sip reveals bright red fruit, cherry, cedar and a velvety texture. The wine is of medium complexity with the tannins beginning to fade, leaving the delightful fruit flavors. It has the distinctive fruit/mineral taste typical of Bordeaux wines.

The grapes are 60 percent cabernet sauvignon, 20 percent merlot, 10 percent petit verdot, 10 percent cabernet franc. After harvest, fermentation takes place in temperature controlled concrete, wood, and stainless steel vats for 3 to 4 weeks. The wine is aged in French oak for 12 months, with 25 percent in new oak.

The wine should be served cool, at about 60-62 degrees.

I love big California cabs, but this wine will not be confused with those wines. It is restrained, understated and elegant.

While many wine drinkers may be curious about French wines, some are intimidated by the high prices of the best Bordeaux and by the confusing labels. Everyone wants to act like they know all about French wines because that used to be seen as a sign of sophistication, but very few of us have much knowledge.

If you are one of those folks, now is a great time to learn about Bordeaux. Forget about Haut-Brion, Lafite-Rothschild, Latour and the other First Growths or even the Second Growths. Their prices are ridiculously high and unless you are trying to impress someone or have a highly trained palate, they are not worth it. I have tasted many of those wines, and I love them. But mere mortals can’t drink them regularly.

So what are we to do? I recommend looking for wines labeled “Cru Bourgeois,” such as the Chateau Patache d’Aux. These are wines of great quality that have to undergo a rigorous test to receive the classification. They are not wines that were listed in the famous 1855 classification of the First through Fifth Growths, but they are excellent wines at a good price.

While the classified wines account for only five percent of the 75 million cases of Bordeaux wine sold each year, the Cru Bourgeois wines make up 25 percent of sales.

(The First Growth wines can sell for thousands of dollars while even some of the Fifth Growths can command prices of more than $100 a bottle, so it’s rare to find a bargain among any of the wines in the classification.)

The Medoc starts at the city of Bordeaux and stretches north for 50 miles along the Left Bank of the Gironde River and is 3-7 miles wide. There are 1,500 vineyards and scores of beautiful chateaus in the region. Many of the most famous and expensive French wines come from the Medoc.

But within such a large region, you can find Cru Bourgeois wines that are grown across the road from the $5,000-a-bottle wines, or in the same soil. So these wines will be different, but not that much different than the very best.

Each of the Bordeaux Left Bank sub regions has wines in the Cru Bourgeois category, so you can look for that designation with the region name, such as Medoc, Haut-Medoc, Listrac-Medoc, Moulis en Medoc, Margaux, Pauillac, or Saint Estephe. Each has satisfied the strict quality selection procedure by which all applicant wines are reviewed annually. 

If you ever get the chance to visit Bordeaux, don’t hesitate. I have been three times and each visit was spectacular. The city of Bordeaux is beautiful, with the stunning La Cité du Vin wine museum. The building is shaped like a giant decanter.

The vineyards are gorgeous, set on rolling hills, some running down to the river. The countryside is dotted with chateaux, some of which offer overnight stays. The wine and food are equally stunning. One one visit with friends we even rented kayaks and paddled along one of the rivers one sunny afternoon.

Winery: Like most of the wine property in Bortdeaux, Chateau Patache d’Aux can trace its roots back hundreds of years. The Chevaliers d’Aux (descendants of the Comtes d’Armagnac) were the first owners of this estate in Begadan in 1632. 

It became state property during the French Revolution and turned into a relay for stagecoaches, known in the region as Patache. The stagecoach now appears on the label of these wines.

It has been classified as a Cru Bourgeois since 1932 and was bought by the Lapalu family in 1964. The estate was managed by Jean Michel Lapalu. Under his guidance of and the holding company Domaine Lapalu, they managed to become the largest producer of Bordeaux wine that comes from the Medoc and Haut-Medoc. It was bought in 2016 by AdVini, through its Bordeaux subsidiary Antoine Moueix Properties.

The vineyard covers 173 acres in the village of Begadan, with an average vine age of 35 years. The plantings consist of four grape varieties: 60 percent cabernet sauvignon, 30 percent merlot, 7 percent cabernet franc, and 3 percent petit verdot. The soil structure is composed of gravel mixed in with clay and limestone.

There is a second wine, Le Relais de Patache d’Aux. The average annual production of Chateau Patache d’Aux is 25,000 cases.

Dennis loved the aroma of Chateau Patache d’Aux and the way it paired with the pork dish.

Goes with: We had this delightful wine with a dish I pulled off the back of a rice box, Maple Apple Pork Tenderloin. It was an exciting pairing.

For the pork I used left over pork from a pig pickin’ my church had at our lake house. I love cooking a whole pig, and the meat you get off it is rich and tasty. To the pork you add diced apples, maple syrup and walnuts. Then you serve it with Uncle Ben’s Wild and Long Grain Rice. You can serve your favorite vegetable as a side.

It was one of the best meals we have had in a long time, especially after I altered the recipe to add bourbon and sausages. The savory, rich flavors of the pork dish were nicely tamed by the elegant, restrained wine.

The Chateau Patache d’Aux will pair well with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken and braised and grilled dishes. It also would pair well with Asian dishes, hearty fish such as tuna, pasta and all kinds of cheese.

The winery recommends serving it with a duck breast that is seared and roasted to medium rare and served with a Bordelaise sauce. I can’t wait to try that.

Here’s the recipe for the pork and rice dish:

Maple Apple Pork Tenderloin

1 package Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Rice

1 pound pork tenderloin cut into four pieces

1 apple diced non-stick cooking spray

1 shot of bourbon

1 Georgia Boy sausage, sliced

4 tablespoons walnuts chopped

1/3 cup maple syrup

 

Season the pork tenderloin and grill or bake it to desired doneness. Grill or roast the sausage and then slice into bite sized pieces. Prepare rice according to package directions. In a small sauce pan spray the cooking spray and add diced apples, cooking over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add walnuts, maple syrup and bourbon and cook another four minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until pork is done. Coat pork with mixture and serve over rice.

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