One of France’s leading wine regions is benefiting from a new generation of young winemakers, including talented and dedicated women. These young Bordelais could be considered nouvelle vague, although they are well traveled, well educated, and devoted to their region, looking to the future of Bordeaux with excitement and enterprise. Together and separately they are currently breathing new life into their vineyards, creating a diversity of style, accessibility and affordability in these world-famous wines. The new generation’s motto is “real wine for real people.” We’re talking superior, beautifully made wines starting at as little as around $15, with the higher end priced at around $40.
How times have changed—Sylvie now runs the entire winery with her sister Marie, something which is becoming more common now in France. Together, the sisters are adding to and gradually changing the 30-year-old achievements of their father Francis. They aim for less oaky, more fruit forward wines, so that they can be enjoyed earlier. They are also increasing production of fresh dry whites, and the always popular in summer, casual, easy-drinking rosé.
Over at Château Peybonhomme-Les-Tours, Rachel Hubert is bringing her own ideas to the family business. Trained as a chemist, she enjoys experimenting with less well-known grape varieties. She is also eliminating the addition of sulfites (preservatives), and replacing oak barrels with terracotta vessels known as amphorae. These large, gourd-shaped ceramic pots were used in wine fermentation by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and there are numerous benefits to fermenting wine in them rather than in oak barrels, including a subtlety and freshness not found in wines that have had contact with wood.
Whatever you’re serving at your holiday table, it’s likely Bordeaux has a grape variety to suit: while Bordeaux is famous for its complex reds, which constitute 86 percent of wine produced in the region, it also makes Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle to name a few. It’s important to note that unlike the US, 45 percent of Bordeaux’s vineyards are certified either organic, biodynamic, or integrated viticulture, which is good news for the health conscious drinker. And you never know: there could be a hardworking and innovative female winemaker behind that traditional-looking French label!