Bordeaux Wines at Balthazar

CorkRules | Jun 26, 2023

Balthazar is an iconic French Brasserie in the heart of Soho, Manhattan, and indeed, it is so very French. The waiting staff, the decor, the clientele and the vibe is reminiscent of a typical French cafe. Elegantly casual, but let’s move on to the wine list. The wine list is all French, and as such, most wines are made from French grape varietals, so let’s take a look at the nuances and notes of a few varietals that are the foundation of the wine.


From north to south, the various wine regions have distinct characteristics in climate and soil, and of course, each region grows the varietals that are best suited to thrive, but because the climate and terroir inform the texture, sweetness, age of vine and harvest time of the grape, the flavor of the same varietals differ depending on the location.  

There are over 200 indigenous wine varietals, some are well-known and loved, chardonnay, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon. These are the friendly bottles you can call up on a Friday night to kick back with because you know what to expect; but there are others that are lesser-known varietals like persan, prunelard noir, and lival. You might order a bottle of these strangers if you’re looking for a little adventure.


At Balthazar, they offer wines from every region, but let’s explore the wines of Bordeaux. Why? Because the popular merlot and cabernet sauvignon originated from Bordeaux and when you think Bordeaux, you automatically think red. In fact, ninety percent of Bordeaux wines are red wines made with merlot and cabernet sauvignon.


Bordeaux wine country is divided into two main regions: the Left Bank and the Right Bank. The terroir of the Left Bank

Well, one of the biggest differences between the Left and Right banks is what’s in the soil. The Left Bank is warmer and the soil has more gravel, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc thrive here. Cabernet Sauvignon needs more heat than merlot to ripen and release the sugars that deliver bold black fruit flavors, high levels of tannin and acid. Additionally, the gravel ensures good drainage and holds heat better than the clay soils of the Right Bank.


The Right Bank terroir has more clay and limestone, and the climate is cooler and wetter. Merlot ripens in the slightly cooler temperature of this area, and the wetter, cooler clay soil helps nurture smooth tannins and a mix of red and black fruit flavours.

For more tips and recommendations, check out this CorkRules’ wine review podcast episode where certified sommelier Maria Valetta reviews Balthazar’s wine list.


About the CorkRules Podcast: Each week we pour a glass and share top restaurant wine list picks, providing you with the knowledge to confidently navigate the wine list through sommelier recommendations, suggested food pairings and expert insights


About CorkRules: CorkRules, the first digital wine app experience, makes it easier for you to navigate the restaurant wine list, and provides you with personalized wine recommendations from your favorite restaurants. Through CorkRules you can find the perfect wine for every occasion based on your preferences. Connect with friends and wine experts to discover new wines to try and learn about wine. CorkRules makes it easier to discover and drink what you love.   

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