When you shop at Heinen’s you will likely notice our vast assortment of wines. From white to red to bubbly, our Wine Director and Consultants search all corners of the world to bring you the most delicious and affordable wines. To find these worldly libations, our wine team pack their bags and travel across the globe to the most renowned wine-making regions. Along the way they learn about the history and culture of the region, visit the vineyards and chateaus of master wine-makers and form long-lasting relationships that extend far beyond simple business transactions.
So what does a Heinen’s wine-scouting trip look like? Carlo Riggio, Heinen’s Director of Wine and Beer recently documented his travels to Bordeaux, France. But before we get to his exciting discoveries, it’s important to know why he chose Bordeaux.
With rich soil and beautiful climate, the Bordeaux region is the ideal wine country. Bordeaux has been producing the Old World Elite Wine, or wine of the highest quality, that is so delicious that even America’s Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were known to frequent the region. With such a variety of high quality wines, a ranking system was established to determine the best wines in this region. The best of the best are known as first growth and include five chateaus from the Bordeaux region. Carlo, in his years of worldly travels, has had the privilege of visiting four of the five first growth wineries, including Chateau Latour, which he visited on this most recent trip.
First growth wines are not all that Carlo saw and tasted while on this trip. He bounced back and forth between the banks of the Garonne River. Bordeaux is actually a key player in the wine-making process because of its ability to promote commerce and provide rich soil necessary for growing the dark red grapes that make full red blend wines. Carlo’s first stop was Château la Croizille. Known as a new winery in the old world, this winery was founded only 30 years ago, but the property dates back more than 100 years. They primarily plant Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, but, after tasting 30 delectable wines, Carlo says he is excited to bring a delicious selection to you.
The adventures were only beginning as Carlo traveled to St. Emilion, one of the oldest active wine regions in all of Bordeaux. Located on the right bank of the Dordogne River, this region is home to countless châteaus using both modern and traditional wine-making methods. During this part of the trip, Carlo also visited Cap Ferret, otherwise known as the Hamptons of France. While touring the French beach town, Carlo tasted nearly 110 wines of all price points and regions at the home of a local wine-maker. The varieties ranged from $7.99 bottles from Bordeaux to $40.00 bottles. He found nearly 15 favorites and more than half will be in our stores by mid-March.
The wine tour did not stop in Cap Ferret; there was one more winery with a long history that Carlo needed to visit: Château Fonbadet. Beginning in the 20th century, Château Fonbadet came under the ownership of the Peyronie family who has a history of wine-making dating back to the 1700s. This 20-acre vineyard, now under the watchful eye of second generation wine-maker Pascale Peyronie, is known for producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot and Malbec. Carlo has the opportunity to meet with Pascale and taste 25 wines from the property varying in prices and varieties.
With all of the traveling and tasting Carlo did in only a few short days, it was time to bid adieu to France for now. He left with exciting memories, new friendships and a long list of lush wines to share with you. One thing is certain about Carlo’s worldly wine travels: he is forming and maintaining relationships with skilled French vendors who lead him to unending discoveries of wines for you to enjoy. Be on the lookout for his favorite French wine picks as we celebrate our French Wine Program February-April. Here are our favorite French wines available this spring …
Coming in February
- Savas – Red, White and Rosé (from Bordeaux)
Coming in March
- La Camarie – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Rosé
Coming in April
- Contraire Cabernet – Sauvignon Blanc
- Grand Sarzin