Rhone vs Bordeaux
About once a year, Naggiar holds an employee training session to go over the wines so that all employees are able to answer any questions that customers have about the wines. After hearing “this Rhone varietal, that Bordeaux varietal” the question was asked, “Just what it the difference between Rhone varietals and varietals from Bordeaux?” Now, I am imagining chuckles and groans from my readers- chuckles from the thought, ” Yeah right, she’s really going to try to answer that question in this blog” to groans of, “Omg, she really is going to answer that question, might as well get a glass of wine and settle in for a day or two”. Needless to say, this is a very broad subject, and as I am thoroughly done with my thesis writing years and not planning on writing a coffee table book anytime soon, I will address this question as it pertains to Naggiar. Call it the Clif Notes of Rhone vs Bordeaux. You can all breathe a big sigh of relief now.
Naggiar produces both Rhone and Bordeaux varietals, however, before I go any further, I do need put it all into context first. The Rhone varietals we grow at Naggiar are Syrah, Viognier, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Marsanne, Roussane, and Cunoise. The Bordeaux varietals we have are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec (yes, Malbec is a Bordeaux varietal even though its fame comes from Argentina). The varietals may be the same, but where they grow definitely is not. In terms of latitude, we are along the same line as Naples, Italy, as opposed to the Rhone or Bordeaux regions in France.
So, a Syrah from the Rhone will be different from Syrahs from Naggiar, or the Napa Valley, or Paso Robles, or even Australia (where it is known as Shiraz). And that is just the broader difference. Within each region, there are differences between the different vineyards. So within the Rhone, a Chateauneuf du Pape will taste different from a typical Cotes du Rhone, or from a Naggiar perspective, a Naggiar Syrah will be different from a Syrah from Yorba in Amador County. Yes, I’m picking on Syrah, but the same goes with any varietal. The basic fruit characteristics are the same, but the idea is to let the region express itself in the resulting wines, otherwise, if you’re looking to buy a quintessential Rhone wine, you may as well cut out the middle-man and get yourself a wine from the Rhone.
Alright, for the nitty-gritty, the difference between Rhone and Bordeaux varietals at Naggiar. Ok, hang on, that is still way too broad of a topic. If I compared and contrasted the Rhone and Bordeaux varietals, we’d be still be here a lot longer than both you and I would like. So I’m going to pick on Syrah again for Rhone and big bad boy Cabernet Sauvignon representing Bordeaux. To simplify it further, we’ll be just looking at our varietal wines, though both are used in many of our blends as well as in small amounts in our other varietal wines. Starting off with harvest, the Syrah is picked on the earlier side and the Cabernet Sauvignon towards the very end of harvest. As for fermentation, Syrah is fermented at a moderately high temperature and then put into a portion of American oak, while the Cab Sauv (going shorthand here) is picked and crushed into a combination of stainless steel and wood fermenters and fermented at cool temps. The Cabernet Sauv also tends to have some extended maceration time and is only stored in aged French Oak. All well and good- but hey, who are we kidding, all we really want to hear about is the finished product. Our varietal Syrah is packed with blackberry, boysenberry, plum, vanilla, and green peppercorns while the Cabernet Sauvignon has more black raspberry, black current, bell pepper, sage, chocolate truffle (umm, chocolate truffles…) and dill- ok, that sounds like a pregnancy craving, but trust me, it works. The Cab Sauv has loads of mature tannin with a long finish while the Syrah has moderate tannins and a mid-length finish. Acidity levels are fairly similar and both wines are nuanced but in completely different ways.
To sum up, the only unifying characteristic of the varietals of each region is that Rhone varietals orginated in the Rhone region of France and Bordeaux varietals originated in the Bordeaux region of France. The varietals are unique unto themselves as well as to the different wine growing regions all over the world that produce them. Hmm, maybe I should have just said that at the start, and saved myself 700 words…[jetpack_subscription_form]