Anthony Rose: A Bordeaux pick'n'mix

It's deathless prose: 52 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 45 per cent merlot and 3 per cent petit verdot. The label tells you everything and nothing about the 2007 Château Brown, Pessac-Léognan, £25.99, Soho Wine Supply (020-7636 8490), an enticingly spicy Bordeaux. It's the 3 per cent petit verdot that's intriguing.

How can such a tiny percentage make any difference when the major proportions are cabernet and merlot? The answer is seasoning. Similar principles apply to the 2006 Château Romefort, £9.99, buy two = £7.99, Majestic, a modern claret – only here it's the 7 per cent cabernet franc that brings a freshness to the blackcurranty merlot and cabernet sauvignon.

Bordeaux is a region in which blends of different grapes each vie for space in the final blend. The late-ripening petit verdot is always in a minor key, while cabernet franc often dominates on the Right Bank. The Bordelais have cleverly learnt not to put all their eggs in one basket.

In Burgundy, the opposite applies. Here growers have found that pinot noir needs no other company. A wine such as the bright 2010 Mercurey Vieilles Vignes, from Domaine Raquillet, £18.95, Lea & Sandeman, relies on pure pinot noir for its sumptuous mulberry fruitiness.

The Rhône's north is pure syrah territory for the pepper and spice characters of a wine such as the textured 2009 Domaine Collonge Crozes Hermitage, £12.99, Marks & Spencer. Its Mediterranean south blunts the syrah's edge, bringing the grenache and mourvèdre grapes into focus in the spicy 2005 Gigondas, Clos des Cazaux, La Tour Sarrazine, £16, Goedhuis & Co (020-7793 7900).

Languedoc likes blends, too. In the 2007 Domaine La Borie Blanche Terroirs d'Altitude, Minervois la Livinière, £9.99, buy two = £7.99, Majestic, it's the grenache at just 10 per cent that adds the white pepper touches to the dominant syrah and mourvèdre. The New World knows such rules, so the juicy 2009 Willunga 100 The Olive Branch Grenache, £9.99, Sainsbury's, stands on its own one foot.

Rioja allows tempranillo both on its own as in the vivid 2007 Cosme Palacio Tinto, £9.99, Morrisons, or seasoned with mazuelo and graciano in the case of the 2007 Bodegas Ruconia Tubal, Rioja Crianza, £16.50, Lea & Sandeman. Chianti has jettisoned its legal requirement for white grapes in favour of pure sangiovese and you'll find few sleeker examples than Fontodi's 2008 Chianti Classico, £18.50-£21.95, Cooden Cellars (01323 649 663), Noel Young (01223 844744).

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk