You do not have to have a Masters in Wine or be an accredited Sommelier to order the perfect wine at lunch or dinner, or make the right purchasing decision at a wine shop; all you have to do is request a bottle of a Baron Edmond de Rothschild wine and you immediately have status and recognized as a connoisseur.
These superior wines started as an idea with Baron Edmond Benjamin James de Rothschild (1926-1997), a French member of the Rothschild banking family, co-owner of Chateau Laffite –Rothschild and a strong supporter of Zionism (his contributions and support were of great importance in the early years in the establishment of the State of Israel).
Baron Edmond was determined to have his own wine enterprise so, in 1973, he acquired Chateau Clarke, Cru Bourgeois Superieur, an 18th century property that had gone fallow. With a long-term vision, he cleared the fields, built new facilities, redesigned and replanted the entire vineyard, naming the new organization, Compagnie Vinicole Baron Edmond de Rothschild. It now includes 150 hectares and is one of the largest vineyards in the Medoc as well as a testament to the Listrac-Medoc appellation. Company interests now include vineyards in Bordeaux, Spain, Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand.
The Compagnie Vinicole Baron Edmond de Rothschild collection of wines was recently introduced to wine buyers and journalists at a Westside hotel in Manhattan.
1. Chateau Clarke 2001. Appellation: Listrac-Medoc. Varietals: Merlot -70 percent, Cabernet Sauvignon – 30 percent. Terroir: Limestone and clay hilltops. Vineyard age: 30 years. Vating by gravity, cold maceration, vinification in wooden vats and stainless steel tanks; pumping over and pigeage (French: punching down). Micro-oxygenation in the tank with malolactic fermentation in new French oak barrels. Awarded 2 Stars: Le Guide Hachette des Vins, 2005.
The first vines were planted by the Cistercian monks of the Vertheuil Abbey in the 12th century. The Knight, Tobie Clarke, acquired the land in 1818 and it remained in the Clarke family until 1973 when it was purchased by Baron Edmund de Rothschild.
This is considered their top-tier wine and the gold standard in the southern Medoc region. The grapes are manually harvested from low-yield plots, sorted, stored and channeled into the tanks by gravity. The vines are weeded mechanically without the use of herbicides. Between the rows, grasses and grains are crushed and spread or buried (green manure).The wines are aged mostly in new barrels, where they mature for 14-18 months.
Notes: Garnet in the glass with black cherries, vanilla and oak delivered to the nose. On the palate, ripe fruits with fresh acidity that is tempered with dry oak tannins.
Pair with grilled meat and French cheese.
2. Flechas de los Andes Gran Corte, Vista Flores 2007. Appellation: Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina, an area attractive to pioneering international including: Bordeaux based Lurton (Gran Lurton), Dassault and Rothschild). Varietals: Malbec – 60 percent, Syrah – 30 percent, Cabernet Franc – 10 percent. Terroir: Granite, sand and gravel from the Andes. Vineyard age: 17 years. Vats filled by gravity flow. Cold maceration and fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Aged in new barrels for 24 months.
To the eye – deep dark purple. The nose finds dried blackberries and plums, black cherry cola, charcoal, leather and cloves, vanilla and oak. The palate enjoys a complex experience of fruit and wood with a cherry tart experience. Good acidity with firm, ripe tannins.
Pair with beef, lamb, venison and hard cheese.
3. Les Laurets Baron 2010. Appellation: Puisseguin Saint-Emilion. Varietals: Merlot- 80 percent, Cabernet Franc – 20 percent. Terroir: Limestone and clay. Vineyard age: 33 years.
The grapes are picked and sorted by hand and fermented. Made primarily from Merlot that is selected from the best 4 hectares from 86 hectares of Chateau des Laurets property. It presents a subtle combination of grace and personality. Winemaking in wooden vats and stainless steel vats with 16 -18 months ageing in barrels.
Notes: To the eye, intense amethyst; the nose find cherries, raspberries, and plums with natural acidity and tannins. On the palate it is fruity and structured with soft tannins that lead to a pleasant finish.
Pair with lobster, grilled meat, black truffles and aged cheese.
4. Le Merle Blanc de Chateau Clarke 2016. Appellation: Bordeaux. Varietals: Sauvignon blanc – 70 percent, Sauvignon Gris – 10 percent, Semillon -10 percent and Muscadelle – 10 percent. Terroir: Limestone and clay. Vineyard age: 30 years. Le Merle
Blanc is part of the Chateau Clarke heritage since the 19th century (1890).
Winemaking: Direct pressing must racking, fermentation and ageing on the lees, 20 percent in new oak barrels and 80 percent in stainless steel vats. Juice moved by gravity and each small lot treated separately with fermentation adapted accordingly. Ageing: One-third in barrels, the remaining in temperature controlled vats for 6 months.
Notes: Yellow-green to the eye with lots of golden highlights. The nose is fresh and fruity with limes, grapefruit and white peach. The palate finds florals and fruits.
Pair with King prawns, salads and white meat.
5. Flechas de los Andes Gran Malbec 2009. Appellation: Vista Flores. Varietals: Malbec – 60 percent, Cabernet Franc – 20 percent, Syrah – 20 percent. Terroir: Granite, sand and gravel from the Andes. Vineyard age: 17 years. Awards: 2012: Wines of Argentina – Silver; 2011: Mundus Vini – Silver.
Notes: The eye is delighted with dark cerise. The nose discovers blackberries, minerals, crushed rock and violets. The palate finds acids and tannins stemming from black fruit, and bitter chocolate that controls the sweetness of the wine.
Pair with grilled meat, chocolates and red fruit desserts.
Rothschild Vignerons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Once again the Rothschild name brings quality along with prestige. The olives are harvested throughout the ripening season. The blend: 90 percent of Frantoio olives (primary varietal in Tuscan oil) and 19 percent Coratina (adds peppery flavor). Cold extraction leads to clean, fresh flavor.
Notes: Bright yellow-gold to the eye with pastel edges. The nose discovers the aroma of lettuce and walnuts. The palate is delighted with a crunchy, white pepper finish.
Doing Well by Doing Good
Benjamin de Rothschild and his wife, Ariane, continue to expand their wine empire, bringing their high standards for quality wine, rooted in authenticity and respect for the environment. The family is committed to protecting and promoting wine-making heritage.
Beginning in 2008, Benjamin de Rothschild has made contributions to universities (including Columbia, Cambridge, Boulle and the Hebrew University) and family foundations focus on social entrepreneurship programs.
• Scale Up is. For socially innovative companies in the process of expanding and offers them support as well as strategic and financial mentoring, academic expertise and access to a network of investors and business expert
• The Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship. A transatlantic network of social innovators.
© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.