I imagine that for many American wine consumers, particularly those who are relatively new to wine, the question, “What is a Claret?” is the thought that crosses your mind as you see this bottle on the shelves. ”Is it a varietal? Is it a location? I know I’ve heard James Bond refer to a wine as a Claret.” These are all legitimate questions and thoughts to have. I too once thought, “What’s the difference between a Claret and a Bordeaux?”
Well, it’s really quite simple. ”Claret” is a British term that has been used for centuries as a generic name for Bordeaux. It’s not indicative of a particular part of Bordeaux or a specific varietal, it’s just another name for Bordeaux. The French historically haven’t used the term themselves, although I’ve read that they are reclaiming the word in 2012 to describe wines that are “light and fruity, easy to drink, in the same style as the original claret when it was prized by the English in former centuries.”
So, the next question you may be pondering is, “Is this wine from Bordeaux?” The answer to that question is, “no.” In the case of Francis Coppola Winery they are using Claret to indicate this wine is the style of a Bordeaux. It’s a Bordeaux style blend from California with 81% cabernet sauvignon, 9% petite verdot, 5% malbec, 3% merlot and 2% cabernet franc. You may notice that the wine is also labeled as a Cabernet Sauvignon and although it’s a blend, American wines can technically be labeled as a varietal if they are made from 75% or more of a single variety.
In addition to the blend, another touch that adds to the Bordeaux-like nature of this wine is the fact that it was aged for 15 months in French oak.
Harmonious is the first word that comes to mind when smelling this wine. Complex is the second word, as there’s a lot going on here with black cherry, blueberry, plum, vanilla and toasted oak aromas. The palate is elegant, with a silky mouth feel serving up plum, blackberry and black currant flavors. The finish offers a touch of spice and black tea, with the fruit flavors sustaining and balancing the bitterness of the tannins. This is a very approachable and pleasant-drinking claret, or cabernet sauvignon… whatever you want to call it.
While the suggested retail price of this is $20, a quick online search turned up prices as low as $14.
Have you tried it? Let us know what you think.
Wine: Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Claret
Variety: Bordeaux-style blend
Find Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Claret with Snooth
Disclosure: This wine was received as a sample.