Setting Sail for Bordeaux

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My ship was drastically blowing off-course in an increasingly tumultuous swell; waves crashing against the bow whilst the howling gale tore through the rigging and creaked the boards below to breaking point. Then, at the critical moment, I woke up. Whatever storm was coming through last night had almost claimed my bedroom window, having almost ripped it from the frame, leaving the curtains to dance maniacally like they were on a washing line in a hurricane – or a sail.

The point is that we’re in the bleak mid-winter now and there’s still some way to go until we’re out of these cold, unforgiving waters. We naturally adapt what we eat with what the seasons allow. Hearty fare for the cold days and nights, game, root vegetables, braised red cabbage (always the favourite) princely pies and many other winter favourites set the tone. But what about what we swill it all down with? This only occurred to me when up a mountain during a snowstorm in Switzerland recently when a magnum was plonked in front of me at dinner (it happens to the best of us).

A Medoc. A beautifully-balanced Medoc at that. It was perfect match – not only for the classic Franco-Swiss seasonal fare, but also for the setting. My usual blinkered approach to set course for Burgundy would have been out of place here. Warming spice and dark fruit; it was exactly the tonic the ship’s surgeon would prescribe for such an occasion.

As a result, our specially selected wines with Le Petit Ballon this month very much reflect this ethos. A Chateau Clos du Loup 2011 fits the bill with balanced aromas of ripe black fruits, toasted oak, baking spices and chocolate on the nose, giving way to flavours of black pepper, vanilla and smoke mingled with the core of cassis fruit. On the white front, a Sauvignon Blanc, perfect to cut through the richness of the winter menus with flavours of lemon, white mint, nettles and honey, supported by lively acidity and bright, fruity flavours.

The discount code for our readers is PARTNERSLPB50UK and offers a 50% discount off the first month’s subscription. The Grape Expectation box, which is £29.89 a month including delivery, will contain the wines above this month.