Monday, 15 December 2008

Christmas Wines To Drink With Cullen Skink and Fish Chowders: M de Malle

Graves is famous for its whites and sweet dessert wines as well as reds and is Bordeaux's oldest vineyard. It was planted in the first centuries of Roman occupation on the outskirts of Burdigala (the Roman name for Bordeaux). The whites are delicious and complex with the sémillon grape dominating the blend. They are rounded, powerful, elegant, aromatic and well balanced with notes of boxwood, grapefruit, passion fruit, honey, herbs and melon.

Graves is named after the soil which lies beneath the vines as Graves means gravel in French. This gravel is the result of glaciers from the Ice Age, which can be up to 3 metres thick and is finer than elsewhere in Bordeaux.

The gravels are full of quartz, ochre, white, red and pink quartzites, jasper, agate, flint and lydian which can be seen scattered on the surface of the soil between the vines. The gravel reflects the sunlight, redistributing its heat onto the bunches of grapes which helps their ripening. It also offers excellent drainage. The soil is comprised of alluvial deposits carried by the Garonne River from the Pyrenees Mountains and the ground underneath is almost pure sand or hardpan (iron-oxide cemented sand). Graves is protected from poor weather by the dense Landes pine forest and from heat by the breeze from the river, the Graves terroir has a perfect micro climate for growing vines.

M de Malle is a dry White Graves wine which will be super with Cullen Skink and smoky chowders. It comes from Château de Malle, which also makes a fantastic Second Growth Sauternes. It's a brilliant green tinted gold and is fresh, fine and elegant with hints of white blossoms, exotic fruits, spice and good lemon acidity. Château de Malle is a classified historic monument and is an exquisite residence surrounded by magnificent Italian style gardens and has remained in the same family without ever changing hands. It's a lovely wine – try it and see!

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