During our adventure in France, we made our way down to Bordeaux with Barton & Guestier to explore the amazing wines of the region. I love that the company works with one of their wine houses, Château Magnol, to offer a food and wine academy right in the middle of Bordeaux wine country; the wine school has been running since 1989. We were fortunate to be visiting at the same time as a great wine sales team from the North East US region, which allowed us to learn about the B&G portfolio, as well as their more generalized wine expertise.
Throughout our stay at Château Magnol, we visited a number of other wine Châteaux in the region to give us a broader understanding of wine production in the region, and not just the one house, or company. The company was founded back in 1725 by Thomas Barton, the muse behind their new reserve series, who moved from Ireland in the 1720s to start his wine merchant business. This makes the B&G Company, the oldest wine house still running today, according to the company. In 1802, his grandson Hugh Barton officially teamed up with Daniel Guestier, a close friend, and they rebranded as the company we know today; Barton & Guestier.
Ever since quality French wines have been imported into the US market, B&G has been visible. Thomas Jefferson was one of the first Americans to recognize the importance of importing quality wines from this region and was instrumental in the adaption of many modern practices we enjoy today. Back in the day, wine was imported in barrels and during their sea journey, it is said that sailors would imbibe on the wines and top up the barrels with wine, diminishing the flavor and quality. Therefore, Mr. Jefferson insisted on wines being bottled at the vineyards before shipping to ensure they survived the journey without being tampered with. Yes, this incurred a cost, as it was not common practice, however, he believed it was worth the cost to ensure he was drinking only the best wine once it arrived.
With today’s resources, the wine culture in the US is better than ever. Consumers are more educated and are constantly searching for better wines with an affordable price tag, and that’s where B&G thrive. With nearly 300 years of experience and market placement, the B&G wines are more prominent than ever. New marketing has re-invigorated the brand and is carrying them into the modern era with labels reminiscent of the days before and new lines that represent many of the established DOC’s in the French industry, as well as pay homage to the founder Thomas Barton. Keeping the B&G label balancing between quality and affordability, creating the additional lines allows the company to expand into higher-end wines that bring a cost with them.
Tasting through the range was amazing, and most notably, the value of the B&G portfolio was extremely impressive. For example, my favorite of the red wines we tasted was the 2010 Thomas Barton Médoc Reserve Privée, which will set you back an average of a mere $35 and the Thomas Barton Réserve Graves Blanc that retails around $14-$15 per bottle. The two wines mentioned are both from the more expensive Thomas Barton Réserve series, so just imagine the price point of Barton & Guestier’s affordable line. Oh, and don’t let me forget about the Barton & Guestier Tourmaline Rosé, which as we noted, pairs superbly with absolutely everything, and the new bottle looks superb.
Our experience was of course not limited to the labels of the Barton & Guestier house, as we visited a number of other Château in the Bordeaux region, such as Château Angelus and Château Beychevelle, which both offer exceptional wines. Each day though we enjoyed lunch and dinner at Château Magnol along with pairings of the Barton & Guestier portfolio and couldn’t have enjoyed it any more than we did. The most difficult part about re-educating ourselves with wine pairings was when we were in class with 4 simple dishes, attempting to be biased and to not just pair them with wines as we had been educated our entire careers to do so. It was a great revelation to discover unconventional pairings and most notably the Pouilly Fuisse and Rosé were two wines that could pair with anything.