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Tour de Vin, Stage 6

It's about time I hit Bordeaux. After a few weeks of zigzagging around French wine regions, I have finally arrived at the iconic area of Bordeaux. The Quaffer focuses on value wines, so I won't be tasting any Premiers Grands Crus Classés. Instead, I picked up a bottle of Chateau Côte Montpezat Côtes de Castillon 2003 ($20) and paired it up with an intense, earthy raw-milk French cheese.

Côtes de Castillon is a fairly recent appellation that is home to some good-value Merlot-based wines. The 2003 vintage was big success and the Montpezat shows it. The nose of plum, dates and rosemary leads to palette-pleasing array of interesting flavors, including smoky oak and more plums, and vanilla.

This would go well with beef tenderloin wrapped in bacon, but I matched it up with an incredible cheese, the Comté Arnaud, a raw-milk cheese made in the Jura mountains in the French Alps along the Swiss border. Arnaud's Comté takes 15 months to mature in its nesting place inside a natural cave system high up in the mountains. The site is actually a former Napoleonic fort and now houses some 40,000 giant wheels of Comté. And I saw giant because its the largest cheese in French, each wheel tipping the scale at 88 pounds. The cheese's deep, smoky flavors come to life when paired with the Montpezat. Hitherto unnoticed flavors of mushroom and spice come to the forefront. The wine has enough tannins to withstands the deep complexity of the cheese.

Quaffability Rating: 88

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“Tour de Vin, Stage 6”