Life Wine

Monday 22 September 2014

Wine from The Left Bank

Liam Campbell

Published 12/06/2014 | 19:34

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Les Graves de Mahon-Laville 2011, AC Graves, Bordeaux 13pc
Mission St Vincent 2010, AC Medoc, Bordeaux 13.5pc

Graves and the Médocs (Haut-Médoc and Médoc) are highly regarded red wine districts in the Bordeaux wine region where Cabernet Sauvignon’s blackcurrant and tannic character dominates the blend.

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They’re referred to as the Left Bank, in relation to the River Garonne south of Bordeaux city and the Gironde Estuary north of the city.

Wines are typically long-lived with added spice from ageing in new barrels. Keen competition internationally has incentivised more consistent quality as Cabernet Sauvignon has become the world’s most planted grape variety.

Merlot adds a softer mouth-feel and fleshy plummy fruit. While Cabernet Franc, an ancestor of both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, retires to a supporting role with liquorice and redcurrant flavours.

Fewer wines are held hostage to the fortunes of the Atlantic region’s unpredictable weather throughout the growing season from bud-burst and flowering in spring to summer ripening and autumn harvest. Vintage variation is less of a gamble. Here are some safe bets.


1) Chateau de Seuil 2009, AC Graves 13.5pc

Mature bouquet of cedar wood and fruity cassis. A seductively silky texture defined by refined tannins supports the ripe blackcurrant fruit and refreshing acidity. A very classy Claret. Perfect match with rare roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and reduced juices to almost syrup consistency.

€22.75 at Kelly’s Wine Vault, Clontarf, Dublin 3 and online:


2) Mission St Vincent 2010, AC Medoc, Bordeaux 13.5pc

Blackberry aromas are followed on the palate by ripe blackcurrant flavours, peppered with spice. Mellow and well-balanced acidity, alcohol and tannins. Rich enough to match a venison sausage fried with juniper berries.

€13.49 at Molloy’s Liquor Stores throughout Dublin.


3) Chateau Puy Castéra 2009, AC Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux 13.5pc

Restrained and reserved classic Claret character. The firm tannins support black fruit flavours that linger long, lifted with subtle oaky spice. Grill a steak and serve with a cream and peppercorn sauce with a smidgen of Irish whiskey.

€19.75 at Wines Direct Stores, Mullingar; Arnotts, Liffey Street, Dublin 1 and online:


4) Les Graves de Mahon-Laville 2011, AC Graves, Bordeaux 13pc

Aromatic with fruity blackcurrant scents and a little spicy nutmeg. Persistent liquorice and pepper on the palate accentuates the ripe fruit flavours. Sufficient depth of fruit to tackle a lamb rogan josh.

€19.99 at The Counter, Letterkenny. In Dublin at 64 Wine Glasthule and Jus de Vine, Portmarnock.


5) Chateau Liversan 2008, Cru Bourgeois Superieur, AC Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux 13pc

Subtle bouquet of pencil shavings from the year’s ageing in French oak barrels followed by several years evolving in bottle. Very firm tannins and assertive oak persist to a drying finish and still needs time to meld and integrate. Match the masculine rawness with a carpaccio of beef drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and toasted pine nuts.

€24.99 at La Touch Wines, Greystones and in Dublin at Brechin Watchorn, Ranelagh and Martin’s, Fairview.

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