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
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
Life and Style
'Prison Architect' players decide the fate of inmates
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • 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

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor