Tag Archives: Claret

Weekly wine defined: Claret

Mary writes:

Claret: This is a British term sometimes used to describe a red wine from Bordeaux. Back in the dark ages, when Eleanor of Aquitaine brought some French vineyards to England as part of her dowry, Bordeaux was made in a much lighter style. It was almost rose like. And thus, a “vin claret” or clear wine.

Today, the Bordeaux region is the largest wine growing area in France. Bordeaux chateaux produce more than 8,500 great red wines from a blend of any one of these grapes, Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot. With maceration, extended fermentation, barrel fermentation and aging, the wines are far from “claret’ but the name has hung around longer than the wine it used to describe.

A red Bordeaux the perfect pair for England’s pasties

It’s true, a pint is probably the first beverage the English would reach for when searching for the perfect pairing for their well-loved pasties.

That’s because England is known for its pints. But the wine we have in mind for this dish is also a perfect match for these meat-filled pastry pies. And although it’s not homegrown, the area it comes from was once owned by England for almost 300 years.

As Ann Vogel mentioned at the end of her article, Cornish pasties originated in Cornwall, England — as she pointed out, the legend at the time was the Devil refused to cross the River Tamar into Cornwall because he heard the Cornish put anything into their pasties.

Well unlike the Devil, the English clearly had no problems crossing the river, or the English Channel for that matter, and that’s what we suggest you do to find the perfect wine for this dish.

We’re going to hop continents and head to France’s Bordeaux region for our recommended pairing with Vogel’s Cornish Pasties recipe.
As we stated earlier, England once owned Bordeaux thanks to the marriage of Henry II to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Bordeaux was a part of the dowry that accompanied the enticingly rich beauty.

But beyond good looks, Eleanor was also an exceedingly smart businesswoman who came up with the idea to ship Bordeaux’s wine to England. This international trade made Bordeaux one of France’s richest cities during the 13th and 14th centuries. Today wine is still one of the region’s main exports.

The red grape varieties grown in Bordeaux also grow well in Washington. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc are the most common grapes blended to make red Bordeaux wine. Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere grapes are also used to a lesser degree.

While we recommend three Bordeaux wines, a Washington Bordeaux-style blend would also make a nice substitute — like Brynn’s favorite: Kiona Vineyards and Winery’s take on a Bordeaux blend.

Its Cabernet/Merlot is $12. If you prefer to dine like the English with your Cornish pasties and Claret (the English term for red Bordeaux) we suggest Château Brisson’s 2009 Château Baby for $10, a 2009 Château du Pin for $8 or Château Peyraud Premier Cote de Blaye for about $11.