THE ADVOCATE 709
VOL. 78 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2020
Big city madness? Or perhaps residents of Vancouver were just lured in
by all the well-marketed hype.
In any event, I did not attend another release for a couple of years (those
intervening years not being the best for Bordeaux in any event). I contented
myself by waiting a couple of days after the release day and then picking
through what was still left. But two years ago, when the release was broadened
to more stores, including our local one in Penticton, I ventured out
again. It was the 2015 wine that was being released. That, along with the
2016 released last year, is a renowned vintage. While wary from my Vancouver
experience, I expected a smaller crowd, but still a crowd.
I arrived about 45 minutes before opening. I was the only person there.
About 15 minutes later, a friend, Mike McDonald, with whom I was going
to go bike riding later, arrived on his bike. We had arranged for me to take
his wine in my car. A clerk came out in her Bordeaux release t-shirt and
handed each of us a number. I was number one and he was number two.
When a third man arrived, she gave him number three. No one else showed
up except for a person returning bottles. Mike decided he would come back
later and do some early morning riding instead, so he gave his number to
the third (now second) man. When the doors opened, the two of us started
in. The clerk stopped number two, saying he had to wait until I was done.
When we asked why, she said that I might want to buy all the cases of a particular
wine (or two), so he had to wait for what I left behind. While moderately
proud of my number one status, I assured her that I was not going to
be buying by the case, so the two of us did our shopping together. When we
left, there was still no one else interested. The Bordeaux section was empty
of customers. Small city nonchalance? Or perhaps residents of the Okanagan
prefer their own local wine.
So what is Bordeaux, and why the hype? It is a place, but it also denotes
particular styles of red, white and dessert wines from specified grapes.
Located at the confluence of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, where they
meet to form the Gironde estuary that runs to the Atlantic Ocean, the Bordeaux
region is in the département of Gironde and comprises a number of
wine districts. The four main red wine districts are Médoc, Graves, SaintÉmilion
and Pomerol. The main white district is Entre-Deux-Mers (between
the two rivers, naturally). Equally famous are the districts of Sauternes and
Barsac, where the region’s great dessert wines are made.
Red Bordeaux is made mostly from three grapes—Merlot, Cabernet
Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc—that are blended in various percentages.
Often added are the “minor” Bordeaux varietals, Malbec and Petit Verdot. In
the Médoc (south of the Garonde and the Gironde estuary), the lead grape
is Cabernet Sauvignon. These are generally called the Left Bank wines,