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The first thing you notice about the 2003 Château Magneau Graves Blanc is its bright sunshiny color. The amplifying nose of this delightful wine is certainly the next and most unmistakable feature of the 2003 white Château Magneau. Grassy, herbal scents join with hints of pineapple and tropical fruits to add a flamboyant, exotic edge to the wine that is reminiscent of some of the best New World efforts with Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. On the palate, the Château Magneau exhibits good length and a healthy dose of plush, ripe flavors that fill the mouth. Moreover, citrus and herb finish this portrait of a tasty white Graves and leave a pleasant lingering portfolio of flavors on the tongue for at least 15 seconds after the wine has been swallowed. We suggest serving this Graves ice cold with hors d’oeuvres or fish and at a more ambient temperature (45° -50° F) with cream sauces and heartier fare.
Typically, white Graves is the perfect foil for the myriad of seafood favorites for which Bordeaux and its surrounding environs – including some of the Atlantic Ocean’s most beautiful beach resorts – are justly famous. However, the 2003 Château Magneau Graves Blanc is more than a fish wine, although it also fills that bill; we like it with Sautéed Oysters and Oysters Wrapped in Bacon. Yet, the Château Magneau’s ripe, exotic character lends itself to a myriad of cuisines and more substantial fare. An old-fashioned Chicken Fricassee with a wine flavored cream sauce, braised onions, and mushrooms provides a very tasty accompaniment to this wine and ample proof of the wine’s versatility. Sautéed Veal Scallops with mushrooms and cream offer another testimony to good eating and drinking. We also like the Château Magneau with foie gras or even a country pâté. In an entirely different vein, we suggest you try the Château Magneau Blanc with lightly spiced Hunan and Sichuan dishes. We found it both refreshing and complementary, so by all means experiment!
Château Magneau is an ancient property in the oldest and most quintessential of all Bordeaux appellations – Graves. It is located in the historic commune of La Brède, which is well known for its moated castle where the French philosopher Montesquieu was born. Here in the heart of the Graves appellation, the historic birthplace of the Bordeaux vineyards, the Ardurat family farms 90 acres of land with deep gravel soils. The Ardurats have run this historic estate since the 16th century and the reign of Henri IV, the first Bourbon king. Befitting the five hundred year history of Château Magneau, the Ardurats follow time-honored traditions in making their wines. Farming is done without the use of chemical insecticides, and all harvesting is done by hand. In addition, the entire grape harvest is sorted by hand before entering Château Magneau’s up to date winery in order to insure that only the highest quality fruit goes into the estate’s offerings. Each grape variety is then fermented separately, and not blended until the assemblage. A new barrel cellar provides the ideal finishing school for the resulting wine. Like many Graves estates, Château Magneau produces both red and white Bordeaux wines, all bearing the Graves appellation. The white Graves is made from the three traditional white Bordeaux varietals: Sauvignon Blanc (45%), Semillon (45%), and Muscadelle (10%). Each is fermented separately at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks to preserve the grapes’ aromatic profile and then blended and bottled before the spring of the following year. The average age of the white vines at Château Magneau is in excess of thirty years, which in most countries would qualify the resulting wine for an old vines designation. The cepage of Château Magneau’s red Graves parallels that of the top performers of the commune and incorporates the three most important red grapes of Bordeaux: Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), and Cabernet Franc (5%). Unlike the white Château Magneau, the red is aged one and a half to two years in barrel, before it is racked and fined. It is a moderately tannic wine for Graves, but it develops beautifully in the bottle.
Graves: The First Bordeaux Graves is the oldest and most historic of all the Bordeaux communes. Before Latour, Lafite, Margaux, and the rest of the well-known names of the Médoc even existed or had even seen a cultivated vine, there was Graves. In fact, Graves has been the home of cultivated vines since as early as the 1st century AD; due at least in part to the Romans inability to grow other crops in the graveled soil from which the name Graves is derived. The stone and gravel deposits are vestiges of the last Ice Age, a bane to most farmers but a boon to grape growers, whose vines struggle deep into the thin porous soil to draw life and subtle complex flavors from the nutrients below. The wines of Graves appear to be the first Bordeaux wines to be exported, with archeological evidence that Roman garrisons in Britain were the happy recipients of Bordeaux’s quintessential wines. And by the early 12th century, Graves was the most sort after wine in England and beyond for its quality as well as its proximity to the city and port of Bordeaux itself, which lies just a few kilometers from Graves. Today, the northern section of Graves called Pessac Léognon must battle the urban sprawl that has broken out of the confines of the city of Bordeaux and spread to the nearby suburbs of Talence and Pessac. A little south of these towns lays the pastoral heart of Graves, a pretty, rural country that includes La Brède, where vineyards mingle with pastures and pine forests. Here, life remains wedded to the land and the joys of the vine. Graves is rightly famous for both its red and white wines. At their best, the red wines of Graves are unsurpassed for their aromatic beauty as well as their smooth, rich flavors. Earthy fragrant aromas that resemble cedar, a classic cigar box scent, black currant, and tobacco emanate from red Graves and form a bouquet that is frequently described as enchanting and profound. Moreover, fine red Graves is often the most supple on the palate. It is also the most flavorful, and easily appreciated of all Bordeaux reds. White Graves is a dry, very aromatic wine that emits great freshness, along with substantial flavor. Perhaps, the greatest event in Graves in the last twenty years has been the revolution that has taken hold among the producers of white Graves. Once, an obscure and expensive proposition that did not always travel well, contemporary white Graves has taken on vigor, personality and even an exotic edge that underscores the physiological ripeness that was often absent in white Graves in years past. At their best, the finest whites Graves can rival the best white wines of France.
If there were ever a young red wine that was made for cheese, it is the 2002 Murphy-Goode Wildcard. Consequently, we suggest you try this wine with a number of international cheeses. American Sonoma Jack cheese, Danish Havarti, Sharp or medium English Cheddar, and most soft uncrusted French cheeses like Port Salut offer outstanding accompaniments to the 2002 Wildcard. The fleshy fruit of the Wildcard provides the perfect foil to the full creamy flavors of these cheeses. To discover additional cheese pairings or to learn more about cheese, please visit our website at www.cheesemonthclub.com and delight in the love of cheese.
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