Wine Time

Dennis Sodomka is a guest columnist | Contact Dennis

Wine Time: Mouton Cadet Blanc 2011, Bordeaux

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COST: $9-11

WHAT: I like to try wines recommended by friends. So when I ran into a local judge who suggested the Mouton Cadet Blanc, I bought some immediately. I wasn’t disappointed

The wine is bright and fresh, full of citrus fruit and floral notes. It has a medium body with a good, complex finish. You might expect to pay two to three times the $10 I paid at the grocery store. (In fact, my friend said he found it for $8 in Atlanta.) This is a terrific bargain.

How can a beautiful white Bordeaux be so cheap? For one thing, the wine is made by Baron Philippe de Rothschild, and they sell 15 million bottles of wine a year, so there are obvious economies of scale.

Rothschild has been making this wine since the 1970s, so they have learned a thing or two about how to make great, inexpensive wine. The winery works with 450 growers from all over Bordeaux. Their winemakers make the decisions on all facets of the wine, from pruning to laboratory testing to harvest. Grapes from each parcel are fermented separately to preserve diversity in the final blend.

This vintage is 65 percent Sauvignon Blanc, 30 percent Semillon and 5 percent Muscadelle.

It is a brilliant pale yellow in the glass with a bright, fresh aroma. Even though the wine has some body, it is light and refreshing with tastes of flowers, lemon and grapefruit.

WINERY: Chateau Mouton Rothschild is a wine estate in the village of Pauillac in the Medoc that has been in the Rothschild family since the early 19th century. It produces some of the finest red wine in the world and is one of the “first growths” in Bordeaux.

Mouton Cadet was born in 1932 when Baron Philippe de Rothschild decided the harvest was not up to the standards of Mouton Rothschild. He created the Mouton Cadet brand, selling this second-tier vintage as a good low-cost Bordeaux. (Cadet means the youngest son in the family, which Philippe was.)

It was so successful he started buying wines from other growers in the area. The wine is now one of the best-selling red wines in the world. The white version was created in the 1970s.

Both wines were marketed heavily in the U.S. and Rothschild’s winemaker became famous for his television commercials. I remember meeting him during a barrel tasting in his cellar during my first European wine tour in 1984.

Mouton Cadet also sells reserve wines and a Rose.

Mouton Rothschild was the red wine that came in second to California’s Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon in the famous Judgment in Paris in 1976 that established California wines as the equal to any in the world.

Philippe teamed with California icon Robert Mondavi in 1980 to form the Opus One Winery in Napa Valley. In 1997, under the direction of Rothschild’s daughter Philippine, Château Mouton-Rothschild joined Concha y Toro of Chile to produce a Cabernet Sauvignon-based, Bordeaux-style red wine in a new winery built in Chile’s Maipo Valley, the Almaviva.

Philippe died in 1988 and control of the business passed on to his daughter Philippine.

GOES WITH: The Mouton Cadet Blanc is a versatile wine that would go well with fish, shellfish, chicken, turkey and creamy pasta. But I wanted to give it a good test so we had it with pulled pork from a pig I roasted a couple of days earlier.

What a treat! Usually with pork on the grill I reach for the reds, but I had a hunch this white would be perfect with “the other white meat.” It was. The citrus flavors and acidity cut through the pungent pork and barbecue sauce to deliver a real treat.

WINE EVENTS

THURSDAY, JULY 11

Wine and tapas tasting, 5-6:30 p.m., La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; four wines and three tapas; $19.99; (706) 722-4805

Wine tasting, 7-9 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road; featuring the wines of Michael David; $30; reservations, (706) 922-9463

FRIDAY, JULY 12

Wine and beer tasting, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road; (706) 922-9463

Wine tasting, 6-8 p.m., Evans Towne Market, 4460 Washington Road; several wines, cheese and crackers and live music most Fridays; $5; (706) 303-8591

SATURDAY, JULY 13

Wine and beer tasting, 2-6 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463

THURSDAY, JULY 18

Wine tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three whites, three reds and cheeses; $5 with rebate on purchase of one bottle of the featured wines; (803) 279-9522

MONDAY, AUG. 5

Wine tasting river cruise, 6-8 p.m. on the Patriot Riverboat;10 wines and appetizers, sponsored by Ninth Street Wine Market, $20 in advance; reservations (706) 724-1442


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