Business Times – 30 May 2008
Les Cotes de Bordeaux will hold its wine tasting tomorrow, featuring eight producers, writes JAIME EE
WHEN you think of Bordeaux, obvious words like en primeur, Chateaux Latour, Margaux or Palmer come to mind. But most wine enthusiasts tend to forget that apart from the First or Second Growths, which make up roughly one per cent of Bordeaux’s wine makers, there’s still another 99 per cent out there waiting to be discovered by the rest of the world. However, it’s a grape-eat-grape world out there as wines from Chile to Thailand compete for retail space and a place in the heart of the discerning wine lover.Even if you’re a solid, family-owned producer from Bordeaux with some pride and local pedigree, your hands are tied because you’re caught between the big boys with their unlimited marketing budgets and the producers of cheap plonk.
Enter, then, the Union des Cotes de Bordeaux – an association set up to promote some 1,500 producers in the south-west of France.
While it has been around since the mid-1980s, it has only been in the mid-1990s or so that the association has bumped up its international marketing efforts, thanks to a shrinking domestic economy.
The Union des Cotes de Bordeaux is made up of four appellations – Cotes de Castillon, Cotes de Cadillac, Cotes de Blaye and Cotes de Francs. All of the vineyards are family-owned and run, and located on the right bank of the Gironde down to Dordogne and Garonne.
Recently, the Union succeeded in getting a common appellation, so their wines are now collectively known as Les Cotes de Bordeaux AOC.
For the first time, Les Cotes de Bordeaux will make its appearance in Singapore, fresh from a marketing mission in Hong Kong for VinExpo. The group has linked up with local wine distributor Caveau, a division of Vinum Fine Wine Merchants, to hold a free public wine tasting tomorrow at its Alexandra Road premises, featuring eight of its wine producers.
But going on the road to win people over with their wines is not the only way the Union des Cotes de Bordeaux is raising its profile.
Knowing full well the combined power of wine and food, the Union tied up with Bordeaux’s institution – Jean-Pierre Xiradakis, chef-owner of the world-renowned La Tupina restaurant – to co-sponsor a programme which would bring deserving young chefs from around the world to Bordeaux to discover its local food products and wine.
Chef Xiradakis started La Tupina some 40 years ago, attracting international press that has rated it one of the top bistros in the world.
He has written books about Bordeaux wine and food and made it his life’s mission to promote the integrity of Bordeaux’s culinary products.
His charming, weather-beaten restaurant serves rustic dishes from an open oven fired by glowing coals, wooing diners with its farmhouse-style cooking and ambience.
Through his involvement with the Jean Palladin Foundation – named for one of France’s best-known food ambassadors to the United States – Mr Xiradakis routinely helped to bring bright young chefs from the US to Bordeaux to explore its produce and cooking styles, in the hope that these chefs would then go home and be walking promoters of the Bordeaux way of life.
Les Cotes de Bordeaux came into the picture in 2004 by inducting young chefs and sommeliers into the Commanderie of Cotes de Bordeaux, a programme that sends them to Bordeaux during the wine harvest, so they can learn about the wines as well as local food products.
The accompanying media publicity, as well as the influences the winners bring back with them, help to spread the word about their appellation.
This year, five chefs or sommeliers from Las Vegas, Quebec, San Sebastian, Hong Kong and Singapore will be heading to Bordeaux under the auspices of Les Cotes.
The Singapore representative will be Galvin Lim of Les Amis’ Au Jardin, who will mark his win with a La Tupina-influenced dinner at the restaurant tomorrow, which is already sold out despite its $188 price tag.
While Mr Lim’s style isn’t exactly rustic, he will bring his own interpretation of it via white asparagus with egg and truffles, tuna with D’Espelette peppers and confit of lamb shoulder in Bordelaise sauce, all paired with wines from Les Cotes de Bordeaux, of course.
So for one night only, you don’t have to fly to Bordeaux – it will come to you.
Registration required for Caveau’s wine tasting. Please call 6276-0908 for information