Tasting Bordeaux Wines and Chocolate

An invitation to a guided tasting of Bordeaux wines with artisanal chocolates from one of France’s top chocolatiers is a welcome treat. The tasting and discussion was one of the daylong activities hosted by the the Bordeaux Wine School. Founded in 1989 (yes, celebrating 30 years!) the Bordeaux Wine school educates more than 85,000 people each year through its global network of over 250 accredited instructors. Classes are taught both at the school’s center in Bordeaux City and online around the world, offering courses in multiple languages. There is also a mobile app.

Master of Wine Mary Gorman McAdams
Master of Wine Mary Gorman McAdams with Pierre -Antoine Bollet of Maison du Chocolat

Master of Wine Mary Gorman McAdams, an accredited Bordeaux Wine School instructor, teamed up with Pierre -Antoine Bollet of Maison du Chocolat. The duo had conducted rigorous tastings beforehand to select the wines and chocolates for the session which started with an historical overview and a discussion about the commonalities of both Bordeaux wines and chocolates.

Grapes and Cacao Beans: Similarities

Just as wine is made from varieties of grapes, chocolate is made from different types of cacao beans grown. Terroir plays an important role in cultivating both grapevines and cacao trees. Cacao flourishes in tropical climates; over 70 percent is grown in Africa and 16 percent in Latin America.

Dark chocolate must be made with 43 percent minimum cacao, and milk chocolate is a minimum of 30 percent cacao. White chocolate has no cocoa powder (a heated form of cacao) and is 20% cacao butter and 14% milk. Technically, it is not chocolate. Cru chocolates, like wine, are sourced from single estates.

Both wine and chocolate contain tannins and (red wine) are rich in resveratrol, flavonoids and polyphenols. Both can be good for heart health when enjoyed in moderation. Chocolate contains caffeine, so be careful consuming large quantities at night.

Bordeaux & Chocolate: Three Key Elements to Consider

Gorman McAdams and Bollet explained that fruit flavored chocolate brings out acidity, and wines usually pair best with bittersweet and dark chocolate (with a higher percentage of cacao). They underscored three key elements to consider when pairing wine and chocolate:


  • Acidity, sweetness, astringency
  • Bitterness (phenols/tannins),
  • Alcohol, sourness


  • Light / delicate
  • Rich / dense


  • Fruity, herbal, smoky, nutty, earthy,
  • Spicy

The pairing included one wine with two types of chocolate. The first misconception that went out the door was thinking it’s all about pairing red wine and chocolate. One of the best pairings was a Clos Floridene, Graves 2016 with a dark chocolate ganache with lemon cream and zest (“Andalousie”) from the South of France.

The experience was palate opening and generated an enthusiastic response among attendees.  Second helpings, anyone?

What we tasted

Clos Floridene, Graves, 2016

  • Andalousie: dark chocolate ganache with lemon cream and zest from South of France
  • Akosombo: Chocolate Bar with 68% cacao

Comment: The Graves with the ganache with lemon cream left us ready  to try more white wines with chocolate.

 Château Bourgneuf, Pomerol, 2015

  • Extreme Chocolat: dark chocolate ganache, perfect balance between the acidulous character and bitterness of pure cocoa
  • Salvador: dark chocolate ganache with raspberry pulp

Comment: The consensus in the room was mixed as to which paired better. We were partial to the dark chocolate ganache with raspberry with the plushness and deep tannins of this wine.

Château Fonbadet, Pauillac, 2016

  • Noir de Cassis: dark chocolate ganache with cassis
  • Quito: bittersweet dark chocolate ganache
  • Coro: Chocolate Bar with 100% cacao

Comment: Hands down the winning pairing was the Noir de Cassis, proving how well tannic wines can balance out creamy ganache.

 Château de Cérons, Cérons, 2009

  • Maracuja: dark chocolate ganache with passionfruit pulp and juice

Comment: We initially thought this pairing would be overly sweet, but to the contrary, it was a nice balance.

 For more information on the Bordeaux Wine School, visit:

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In this episode of The Connected Table SIPS, Mary Gorman McAdams, MW discusses The World’s Best Bordeaux Wine School

Bordeaux is one of the world’s most renowned wine appellations with more than 6000 producers. For 30 years, the Bordeaux Wine School has been the premier education source for learning about Bordeaux. Located in Bordeaux City and online, the school educates more than 85,000 people annually through its global network of over 250 accredited tutors. Master of Wine Mary Gorman McAdams discusses the Bordeaux Wine School’s curriculum for both wine professionals and consumers.

Here we are with Mary Gorman McAdams
Here we are with Mary Gorman McAdams

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Sipping Bordeaux Blancs

Many wine aficionados are familiar with the red wines of Bordeaux, but the region also produces exceptional white wines. One of the birthplaces of Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux put the art of blending on the map, creating balanced, expressive white wines, many available for under $25.

Dr. Valérie Lavigne is a specialist on aroma and the aging potential of white wines.
Dr. Valérie Lavigne is a global viticulturist and oenologist who is a specialist on aroma and the aging potential of white wines.

We sat down to taste a few Bordeaux Blancs wines with Dr. Valérie Lavigne, well-respected global consultant in viticulture and oenology. Based in Bordeaux, she is a researcher for Seguin-Moreau, affilliated with the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences (I.S.V.V.). Her primary areas of research include: aroma science, reduction during vinification and aging of white wines, and premature aging of aromas in white and red wines. Valérie is also a consulting oenologist for about 70 crus and renowned estates in France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and South Africa. She teaches diploma level courses at the University of Bordeaux along with white wine aroma training courses for the Bordeaux CIVB.

Valérie explained different styles of Bordeaux Blanc wines as well as their aging potential, in some cases 15 years or more.

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What we tasted:

Château Bonnet 2017 (Entre-Deux Mers), a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (60%), Sémillon (20%) and Muscadelle (20%). This wine had very fresh tropical fruit and lemony notes. Left me craving a dozen chilled raw oysters and a light green salad with lemon vinaigrette. SRP: $16

Dourthe Le Grand Cuvée 2016, 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Zippy, zesty citrus notes make this wine super refreshing. Try with ceviche or goat cheeses. SRP: $11

Clos Floridène 2015 (Graves), a blend of Semillon (50%) Sauvignon Blanc (48%) and Muscadelle (2%). This wine combined citrus (grapefruit, lemon) and white flowers and a tad touch of toast. Tru with a light seafood pasta. Valérie noted the aging potential of this wine is about 10 years. SRP  $29

Learn more about Bordeaux wines and Bordeaux Blanc at 

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Bordeaux’s Next Generation Steps Out

Many people associate Bordeaux wines with classic Grand Crus, collectible fine wine that you lay down in a cellar and enjoy with a sumptuous meal. On our first trip to Bordeaux, we were fortunate enough to have private visits to some great houses: Château Le Pin and Vieux Château Certain in Pomerol, Château Pontet-Canet in Pauillac and Château D’Yquem in Sauternes. But we don’t drink wines like that every day. Most of us enjoy approachable, everyday wines when dining at home. The quality is still good; the price is more affordable, and the wines more accessible.

A new generation of 30-something year-old Bordeaux vintners who have studied, trained and traveled outside of the region are embracing innovations and new techniques and bringing them home. Their goal is to produce easy drinking wines for every day enjoyment. These young Bordelais winemakers have even formed organizations to exchange ideas such as Bordeaux Oygène and Arômes de Jeunesse .

Of course, they had to convince their seniors that change and innovation is good for the business and doesn’t refute or replace longstanding traditions, just to build upon the family business and introduce more consumers to their wines. Much like fashion, there is haute couture and there is ready to wear. So goes it with their wines.

Recently we met four young producers at a lunch and presentation at Aureole in New York City to learn about their mission and taste their wines.  We learned they are passionate about sustainability; disease management, better matching of varieties, rootstocks, and and pruning – and crafting wines that deliver a sense of place on the palate.

YOUNG BORDEALAIS GROUP PHOOT- GEERY TEUWENAdrien-David Beaulieu (Château Coutet), Rachel Hubert (Château Peybonhomme-Les-Tours), Sylvie Courselle (Château Thieuley) and Alexander Sichel (Maison Sichel) at Aureole. Photo: Geery Teuwen

Some like 5th generation winemaker, Rachel Hubert,  Château Peybonhomme-Les-Tours, are committed to producing biodynamic wines. Others like 14th generation Adrien-David Beaulieu, Château Coutet, remain committed to being 100% organic since its inception and still plow their vineyards by horse.  Sylvie Courselle, who runs Château Thieuley with her sister, Marie, is betting on the future of Bordeaux white wines. Their estate in Entre Deux Mers  has planted more Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and now produces 50% white wines  and 50% reds. Alexander Sichel, Maison Sichel, continues his family’s legacy, to expand and offer wines to appeal to every type of wine consumer.

Silvie Courselle and Adrien-David Beaulieu
Silvie Courselle and Adrien-David Beaulieu

Sylvie Courselle, Château Thieuley, and Adrien-David Beaulieu, Château Coutet, visited us on The Connected Table LIVE! July 27th to discuss their approach to winemaking, the cameraderie among the young Bordelais and how their senior generation reacted to the changes they presented. Listen anytime on and the free iHeart App at this link


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Wines we liked at the tasting:


Clos Floridène Le Rosé de Floridène Bordeaux 2014, (92% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Malbec). Organic. Grateful to have this wine waiting for us outside on a very hot summer afternoon in NYC. Those who love France rose will enjoy this wine.  SRP $17


Château Thieuley Bordeaux Blanc 2015 (50% Grand Cru, 35% Sauvignon Blacn, 15% Sauvignon Gris). Pepper personality filled with citric notes and loads of minerality. SRP $15


Château Coutet Cuvée Emeri, St. Emilion Grand Cru 2014 (65% Merlot/35% Cabernet Franc). Only 200 bottles were made of this wine, so we felt lucky to have a taste. Elegant, still lean but drinkable. Interesting fact: The bottle is handblown with a handmade glass stopper and is a replica of a 200 year old bottle discovered in the winery’s cellar. (no importer)

Adrien with a bottle of Chateau Coutet Cuvee Emeri
Adrien with a bottle of Château Coutet Cuvée Emeri,