“A Major Crush”is a new wine edutainment series rolling out by City Winery. Each segment of the series focuses on a different wine category, where guests will learn the ins and outs of everything from geography and geology, through all the notes and down the perfect food pairings, and all presented in a fun and refreshing way.
Edutainment, defined as a form of entertainment with an educational aspect. The Major Crush series also hones in on a point of comparison each time to use as a comparative point of reference to add lightness and play to the “lecture.”
Aside from the delicious wine, I think the real star of the show was the host and wine educator Fhilippe Newlin. As someone whose experience led him to find that a critique on wine education just happened to be incredibly boring, he decided to change the language and framing of how a wine class is presented.
His passion and knowledge towards wine were so evident and were passed along to us in such a unique teaching style, adding humor and pop culture to engage the audience, allowing what we learned to sink in while still enjoying the overall experience of it.
This theme used James Bond as a point of comparison and reference to the wines mentioned based on characteristics. For example, the strong bolder wines, as “statuesque chiseled out of granite Sean Connery”, vs the softer feminine wines, to “pretty boy Pierce Brosnan”, yes, these are direct quotes from Newlin.
With that said, here is some of what I picked up from this segment’s lecture on Bordeaux, also presented in more of a list way. With keeping true to making this as approachable as possible, I tried to sum it up in a few bullet points.
- Separated by the left bank and the right bank – each side having a significant effect on the geology, agriculture and how and what wine is produced.
- The grapes are the same however the soil varies slightly, but each wine shows the personality of the different places
- Left bank (hot soils) and right bank (cool soils, wet, rich, and air conditioned like). As you move north as well temperature and soils also change, therefore the wine styles change a bit
- Bordeaux is almost never a varietal and is typically a blend of difference grape varieties – this is how you achieve finesse in the wines
- Typical blends include Merlot (a low acid grape that grows on the right bank) which is very high maintanance and need perfect conditions vs a Cabernet( which have high acidity and can be left alone in the hotter more arid climates of the left bank)
Wine One: Chateau Haut-Bailly
- Owned by an American Family
- Typically this wine is 50-50 cabernet sauvignon (berries) and merlot (which has thin skin and softer in texture) – both are blended to get the complexity of this wine
- Tasting Notes: This wine is dryer, not super sweet or fruity, hasa light smokiness, and needs time to open up as it will change.
- Pairs well with: Steak, lamb
Wine 2: Château Mongravey, Margaux
- From the city of Margaux
- Younger and not as dry as the first wine
- Has a slow long season to ripen – is not overheated so the perfumes and aeromatics have a chance to shine
- Soil: great diversity with gravel soils, deposit of limestone and only a minor amount of clay
- Tasting notes: most feminine wine – elegant with silky tannins, perfume of ripe dark berries, truffles, tobacco, cassis and violets
Wine 3: Chateau Gloria, Saint-Julien
- Between the areas of Margaux and Paulliac – combining the smoothness and perfume of the Margaux married into the classicism and darkness of the Paulliac
- Paulliac is considered quintessence and textbook style of Bordeaux wines, especially of the Cabernet variety
- Soil: complex terrain – in south, rocky gravel
- A red grape that can actually deal with cold weather and doesn’t need a lot of heat. Ex- Merlot can’t deal wit the bad weather
- Tasting notes: Dark fruit taste, full, rich, oaky, tobacco firm tanins
Wine 4: Chateau Bellegrave, Pauillac
- A true Pauillac – a region known for producing a lot of deep dark wines with lots of tanins. These wines can age between 10 and 100 years as they need time to reveal itself. Ultimately they are wines that live beyond the human life cycle
- Tasting Notes: tobacco, strong, savory, peppery edge,
Wine 5: Chateau Lilian Ladouys, Saint-Estephe
- Further North, the water is cooler
- Tasting notes: deep, dark and earthy, black fruit and truffle note, wine almost has a salty smell, fine tanins
- Paired well with: Fatty salty pate, wild boar, gamey meats
Wine 6: Chateau Saint-Andre Corbin, Saint Emilion
- Merlot has a thinner skin and therefore softer and less acidic. It was planted all over on the right bank becuase it gives juice – for when they wanted quantity but not quality.
- It is a sexy wine because of its texture and allure
- Merlot is a dominant with Cabernet Franc as a supporting actor. If Merlot was a brownie and Cabernat Franc was the salt – it is there to give it an extra kick. Cabernet franc is known for its pepperiness and acidity
- One of the oldest wine regions going back to Roman times
- Tasting Notes: ranges from soft to fruity to wines capable of aging, notes of berries and plum, a richness and smooth texture
- Paired Well With: Versatile and light enough you could easily pair it with more delicate foods like a shrimp salad
With the Bordeaux having so much diversity in the region, each wine shows the personality of a specific place, similarly to how different actors have played the James Bond character with their own interpretation. It was so interesting to see the evolution and, when explained, to really understand and taste the differences amongst the wine presented. We left this experience at City Winery with tons of laughs, wine, new knowledge about Bordeaux wine.
Check out my video recap
Next up in the Major Crush Series Rock and Rhone: Exploring the Rhone Valley’s biggest hits.
More info & Tickets here
With the launch of the” Major Crush” series and the various other upcoming events at City Winery, I decided to create my own little series, Wine Wednesdays. Check back here every week for City Winery event recaps, news on other upcoming events, and all things WINE.
Click here for details and tickets on other City Winery events to come.