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Bordeaux 2016: Thomas Duroux

I was last in Bordeaux in December 2016, just three months ago. I am not a ‘primeurs only’ or ‘Vinexpo only’ visitor to the region, because – as I know I have said so many times before – I don’t go to the region for the parties, but to try and get under the skin of the châteaux, the winemakers and the wines. It’s a matter of ethics; are you there to provide impartial review of the wines for readers (or subscribers in my case) or simply to have a wine-based holiday with plenty of schmoozing along the way?

Anyway, I know I sound like a broken record on this. But it is important to me.

After my December trip I did start giving space on the Winedr blog for opinions on the vintage from the region’s leading directors and winemakers, starting with Jean-Michel Comme back in January, but this series of posts then faded away as I got caught up in a series of Loire-themed trips, including the first to my house (which is – if you will excuse the quick advert – available for rent in the summer if you are looking for a place to holiday in the Loire Valley), then to the Salon des Vins de Loire in Angers, then to Vinovision in Paris, all in the space of a few weeks. I could hardly remember my name at the end of it all, never mind where I was up to with news on Bordeaux 2016.

My mind is now brought back into focus by the looming primeurs week. This year I hope not to get stranded in Gatwick Airport for 48 hours, and to avoid injurious bed collapsesif I can pull just that off then I think I will label the trip a success. So before I head out to begin putting together my independent and impartial report, this week I will give space for a few more opinions from the shop floor in Bordeaux, starting with Thomas Duroux of Château Palmer.

Bordeaux 2016

Me: Can you please tell me a little about 2016?

TD: The 2016 vintage was a challenging one, but with a happy ending. We had a difficult spring with a lot of mildew pressure, and as we follow biodynamics it wasn’t easy. We lost maybe 20% of the crop at this time. Then the summer came, and the weather through to September was exceptional. From July to September we had no rain. The drought was a bit difficult for vines on low-clay-content soils though, and it had some impact on the young vines too, but these are minor concerns. The plateau which has clay and gravel managed well.

Me: In view of your biodynamic philosophy and this bad start to the season, what about your yield in 2016?

TD: The result in this vintage is 30 hl/ha. We had super-small berries. Others will perhaps have higher yield, but this is of no concern.

Me: And what about quality?

TD: We have incredible quality in this vintage. There are two key points to the vintage. The first is the timing of the harvest decision – there has been a lot of variation across the region I think, and when you decided to pick could have a very big impact this year. The second brings us back to yields. I am convinced that having low yields – between 30 and 35 hl/ha, or at the very least less than 40 hl/ha – really makes a difference to quality. I saw just one of our parcels give a yield of 52 hl/ha, and the wine was just not of the same quality.

Me: Can you make any comment on the character or style of the vintage?

TD: Well, we will do the blends next week, so I will have a better idea then. But I can say now that the wine seems to have less flesh than the 2015 vintage, but it is more sophisticated. There was not one variety favoured over any other. So I feel about 2016 a little like i did about the 2012 vintage. Then there was a big contrast between the Merlot and Cabernets, the Merlot ripe and rich, the Cabernets very precise and sophisticated. The combination of the two in 2012 was fantastic. We have something similar in 2016.

Me: Thanks again.

These early Bordeaux 2016 reports are essentially funded by Winedoctor subscribers, the first purpose of this latest trip to Bordeaux having been to taste 2014s for a report on that vintage. If you find these reports interesting, please consider taking out a subscription to Winedoctor, for just £4.50 per month (or £45 per annum).

Bordeaux Value from Blaye

More Bordeaux values today, this time from Blaye. One of Bordeaux’s larger appellations, Blaye (or Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux to give it its Sunday name) sits on the right bank of the Gironde, directly opposite the famous communal appellations of the left bank. The major difference is that instead of deep gravel beds the soils are more typically clay over limestone, and correspondingly Merlot dominates rather than Cabernet Sauvignon.

Château Magdeleine Bouhou, which has been in the ownership of the same family since the late-19th century, is a leading estate in this appellation. I first tasted its wines a few years back with Stéphane Derenoncourt, who has consulted here since 2010. I was recently glad to have the opportunity to taste some subsequent vintages of the grand vin, as well as Boha, a Merlot-dominant entry-level wine, that I thought rather good.

Château Magdeleine Bouhou

Here are a couple of other tasting notes on the grand vin:

Château Magdeleine Bouhou 2012: A dark, matt, black-tulip hue. A fascinating warm and welcoming nose, with rose petals, smoke, violets, degraded fruit, and a lightly macerated character. There follows a cool, fresh, correct and balanced palate, with roasted and degraded fruit notes, quite savoury, set against a lean, cool and stony backbone, with a twist of vanilla flower, a delineated endpalate, and a short finish. 15/20 (March 2017)

Château Magdeleine Bouhou 2011: An opaque black-tulip hue, with a bright, dusty, claretty rim. Lightly roasted berry fruits on the nose, bright, with peppered confit cherry, charming and expressive. A cool start, well measured, with supple weight and a slightly chalky texture to the fruit. A dry, savoury and fairly grippy style, with a substantial but ripe tannic structure, and it is still carrying some toasted, charcoal oak. Lots of lovely fruit wrapped around it though, with red cherry, red plum, soft, textural and veering towards plush in the finish. Nicely poised now, but with potential too. 16/20 (March 2017)

These are clearly good wines which I will look out for in future.

Bordeaux Value from Listrac

I’m always on the look-out for good value in Bordeaux, which can mean looking outside the most famous appellations. On the left bank, Moulis, Listrac, the Haut-Médoc and Médoc appellations are all potential hunting grounds.

I was happy to have the opportunity recently, courtesy of Château Fourcas-Dupré, to taste a few samples. I was impressed with the Château Fourcas-Dupré Blanc 2015, a wine which marks a revival of white winemaking on the estate, and in the region.

Here are notes on a couple more samples:

Château Fourcas-Dupré Cuvée Hautes Terres 2012: A dusty hue, with a moderate depth of colour intensity, with a cherry red tinge. The nose is all smoky, with dry-grilled berry-skin and stem. There follows a softly composed palate, with a touch of candle grease texture, smoking fat, and a bitter structure beneath. A bit lean, with a very old-school feel throughout the middle and end, culminating in a short, peppery finish. 13/20 (March 2017)

Château Fourcas-Dupré

Château Fourcas-Dupré 2011: A dark and dusty hue to this wine. The nose is full of roasted fruit, with some savoury notes of leather, liquorice and black pepper, with a white limestone freshness. There follows a charming and similarly savoury palate, the fruit touched by black olive and currant, with a soft, plump, easy-going texture, fixed in place by a ripe and sweet backbone of tannin. Long, grippy, a pithy finish, with a textured and yet dry substance. Good. 15.5/20 (March 2017)

I think it is fair to say on this occasion I preferred the 2011 grand vin to the more entry-level Cuvée Hautes Terres, and I would happily drink a little more from this domaine. I think it is the white I liked best though.

Disclosure: These were samples received from the estate.

A Taste of 2016 Bordeaux

The impending arrival of the Bordeaux primeurs in a few week’s time brings, in a potentially good vintage as we have in 2016, a sense of anticipation. If you’re interested in Bordeaux, that is.

The official primeurs tastings kick off during the first week in April, and I will be flying out the weekend before for eight days of visits and tastings. Of course, some critics are already out there, determined to be the first with their notes and scores. Good luck to them.

Château Brown Rosé 2016

While barrel samples are already being poured in Bordeaux, so über-embryonic that even Nietzsche would have been scratching his head searching for the right term, I had my first taste of 2016 from bottle over the weekend. Yes – from bottle!

The 2016 Bordeaux Rosé from Château Brown has a very pale pink hue, much more in the Provençal style than most pink wines coming out of Bordeaux. This delicate colour does not reflect the intensity of aroma though, which is rich yet pure, the nose defined by leafy fruit, clean and bright, with notes of creamed strawberry, raspberry and vanilla flower. This translates into a fresh, crisp and bright style on the palate, with pretty and peppery summer berry fruits, white pebbles, the overall feel dry but substantial. There is some really nice grip here, delicately framed fruit, but with nice structure, underpinned by a tingling acid wash. An impressive Bordeaux rosé, surely one of the best I have tasted. 17/20 (March 2017)

Roll on the primeurs (in a couple of weeks).

Chateau Latour: 2017 Releases

News has been released today of the latest late-release wines from the cellars of Château Latour. In the words of the Latour press release:

“For several years now we have been selecting wines from our cellars that we consider ready to drink. Whilst they can already be enjoyed by connoisseurs of the Estate, they also have excellent cellaring potential.

This year we have chosen to release the Grand Vin de Château Latour 2005 and Les Forts de Latour 2011.

2005 is a landmark year for Château Latour.. The Grand Vin is an exceptional wine that is result of a harvest carried out in perfect conditions and it possesses all the hallmarks of an outstanding vintage. After undergoing twelve years of aging during its early youth in our cellars, this racy, opulent and full-bodied wine is starting to reveal the full depths of its magic and complexity. Its impressive structure, fine tannins and wide range of aromas will continue to evolve and surprise us in the decades to come.

2011 was a more challenging year to deal with, due to a hot spring and an uncharacteristically cold and wet summer season. However, as it is often the case, a hot and dry September enabled us to harvest perfectly mature grapes. Les Forts de Latour 2011 is an elegant, fruity and pure wine. Having reached its first stage of maturity, this wine unveils a deliciously fruity and delicate structure.

These two wines will be released onto the market mid-March via a selection of Bordeaux wine merchants. They will join the Pauillac de Château Latour 2012 (offered for sale at the beginning of the year), which is the first wine of this vintage to be released by the Estate.”

Winedoctor 2017: Coming Soon . . . .

I don’t normally write about forthcoming articles on Winedoctor but at the moment I have so much raw material piled up waiting for me to write, edit and publish I thought subscribers probably deserved to know what feeble plans I have for getting everything done, and in what order I intend to get through it all.

First up I have dozens of tasting updates and something like 30 new Loire profiles for domaines not previously covered in-depth on Winedoctor which I will have to roll out over the course of many months. It won’t be that long before many Muscadet-makers are bottling their first sur lie wines of the 2016 vintage though, so there is perhaps a need to get these published first. These inclde tasting reports on the latest releases from Domaine Luneau-Papin, Domaine du Haut Bourg, Domaine des Herbauges, Jo Landron, Famille Lieubeau, Jérémie Mourat, Marc Olliver (pictured below) of Domaine de la Pépière and others.

Marc Ollivier, Domaine de la Pépière

A also have new profiles looking at the wines of Jérémie Huchet, Les Bêtes Curieuses, Domaine la Foliette and Domaine la Haute Févrie. In addition the Winedoctor guide to the Loire Valley kicks off again this weekend, looking at the wine regions of the Nantais, instalments to be published every other week over the next few months. It’s Muscadet, Muscadet, Muscadet all the way (plus some Folle Blanche and Fiefs Vendéens, obviously).

In order to provide some relief from my Bordeaux 2014 reports (which I started yesterday), I will be mixing and matching the Bordeaux and Muscadet articles over the next four or five weeks.

Once done I will probably be close to heading for the primeurs, so I will have to focus on as yet unwritten Bordeaux 2016 reports. And then, when that madness is behind us, I have a Loire Valley 2016 vintage report, a huge tasting update on the 2014 Loire Valley vintage (with some brilliant wines lined up – what a great vintage this is, especially for whites), a Bordeaux 2007 ten years on report, a Bordeaux 2001 mini-tasting report (with some great Sauternes – still stunning at over fifteen years), a Bordeaux 2002 mini-tasting, a vertical tasting of more than fifteen vintages of Savennières from Domaine du Closel, and reports on visits to Aurélien Revillot in Bourgueil, Château La Dauphine in Fronsac, Château La Dominique in St Emilion and others.

And this is before I even look at all the Anjou, Vouvray, Sancerre, Montlouis, Côte Roannaise and similar I have tasted over the past two weeks. I had better get back to writing…..

The Loire Salons: The Future?

Two weeks ago the doors opened for the 31st edition of the Salon des Vins de Loire in Angers. In recent years this has been a salon in decline, with falling exhibitor numbers, despite being a flagship wine event for the region. Much has been made of the arrival of Vinovision in Paris – the 1st ever edition opened its doors one week after the Salon des Vins de Loire – and what role this new salon might have to play. I was one of very few wine writers to attend both salons.

The Salon des Vins de Loire was first held in 1987, and has been held in every year since then. Not even the devastating frost of 1991, which saw yields and incomes slashed, could deter the organisers. Despite this, in recent years the salon has certainly been in decline. I have read that in its hey-day there were typically 700 exhibitors (although I have to wonder how you could squeeze that many into the Parc des Expositions in Angers). I have been attending for nine of those 31 years, and up until four or five years ago the exhibitors would pack out the Grand Palais, a huge exhibition hall, as well as a smaller entrance hall on one side. In recent years, however, the shrinking numbers of exhibitors has been obvious; famous names (such as Henri Bourgeois, Château de Tracy, Domaine Huet and others, as well as many of the big négociants and Saumur sparkling wine houses) were no longer present, and false walls brought in from the side of the hall kept everybody packed together, staving off the feeling that the fair was haemorrhaging support. From 400 exhibitors last year, this year the number plummeted to 230 domaines. The smaller entrance hall was closed off, and the false walls moved in a little further. On the upside, the Salon des Vins de Loire now also incorporates La Levée de la Loire, featuring organic and biodynamic growers, where there were 230 exhibitors, as well as a Demeter exhibition (which I confess I didn’t even find during my visit).

Loire Salons 2017

Much has been made of the arrival of Vinovision but it is clear to me that the Salon des Vins de Loire was in decline long before this new salon in Paris saw the light of day. There are I suspect many contributing factors to its decline. First, there are the competing ‘off’ salons including Les Anonymes, Les Pénitentes (Puzelat, Mosse and friends), La Dive Bouteille in Saumur and the Renaissance tasting in the Grenier and Hôpital Saint Jean (Nicolas Joly, Mark Angeli and friends). There is no doubt that these salons have a draw that to many visitors is stronger than that of the Salon des Vins de Loire, and I know of some writers and cavistes who visit Angers and tour only these salons, without ever stepping foot in the Parc des Expositions. Secondly, there is cost; a stand at the Salon des Vins de Loire is expensive, and if exhibitors don’t feel there is an adequate footfall and generation of trade, they will stay away. This was the reason Jean-Marie Bourgeois gave me for quitting the Salon des Vins de Loire the very last time he exhibited (basically, too expensive, not enough visitors). Thirdly these are pressing times financially, and this is a problem that will continue to have an impact over the next couple of years. Many different regions have been hit by difficult vintages during my nine years of attending the Salon des Vins de Loire, but in 2016 almost everybody was affected by the frost. If you have little/no wine to sell, and books that have to be balanced, an expensive stand at the Salon des Vins de Loire suddenly becomes a frivolous expense.

Vinovision is a latecomer in this story, and although it would be easy to blame the precipitous decline in Salon des Vins de Loire exhibitors on this new fair it is worth remembering that Vinovision was created principally with the support of Loire vignerons as a response to the deteriorating situation at the Salon des Vins de Loire. The fair combines the Loire Valley, a region of minor interest for many international wine buyers, with an attractive array of exhibitors from Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy and Jura. And it is based in Paris, which to an international buyer might feel easier to get to than Angers (although from my point of view travelling to either Angers or Paris is pretty straightforward – in each case it’s a plane, then a train). The Vinovision publicity material boasted over 360 exhibitors, and my search for who to visit from the Loire Valley pulled out over 260 names, so it was certainly a popular choice for many. The fee for a very small 3-metre by 2-metre stand was, I was told, €3000 compared to a similar sum for admittedly a larger stand at the Salon des Vins de Loire (or just €300 for a table in La Levée de la Loire). Because the purported focus of Vinovision is international export, however, exhibitors qualify for financial support from local authorities, and so it ends up being less expensive to exhibit at Vinovision than at the Salon des Vins de Loire.

Having attended both salons, neither were crammed. Both salons started on Sunday, finishing on Tuesday. The Salon des Vins de Loire would usually run from Monday to Wednesday, and the reason why the start day has moved to Sunday, creating a clash with the Renaissance and other ‘off’ salons, is not known to me. On the first day of the Salon des Vins de Loire the aisles were reminiscent of the streets of London’s derelict East End in the video for Ghost Town (1981), by the 2 Tone band The Specials. I could have driven a 1962 Vauxhall Cresta down them with my eyes closed without fear of hitting anybody. Monday, by contrast, was very busy, while Tuesday was quieter again. The Angers Expo Congrès claimed “close to 8,500 visitors” which is remarkably close to normal figures, a considerable surprise. Of these La Levée de la Loire (within the Salon des Vins de Loire) drew 3059 visitors in two days (Monday and Tuesday), an impressive contribution. As for Vinovision, this fair was also very quiet on Sunday (it seems to me Sunday-starts aren’t a good idea), picking up on Monday, and was also quieter on Tuesday. While I have not seen any figures for Vinovision, I am sure visitor numbers must have been lower than at the Salon des Vins de Loire. Despite being crammed into a smaller hall, with tightly-packed stands, it never felt as busy here.

For the moment then, the Salon des Vins de Loire will I suspect continue to decline. It (presumably) remains expensive, and I feel it has failed (or been unable) to adapt to the needs of the vignerons, or to evolve in a way that kept it in pole position in the salon race. Vinovision may have started small but it has a cost advantage and an ‘international’ mutli-region draw to it. Meanwhile the low yields in 2016 will act as a financial deterrent for another year, at least, this effect presumably more significant for the more expensive salons. Leading viticulteurs such as the Luneau-Papin family, Eric Morgat and Philippe Alliet will continue to push for the Salon des Vins de Loire and support it, and the 2018 edition is pencilled in for February 4th, 5th and 6th (a Sunday start again I note). With stronger vintages in 2017 and 2018 (fingers crossed) perhaps we will see those domaines staying away because of the very difficult 2016 vintage, such as Anne-Charlotte Genet of Charles Joguet, return?

Whatever happens with future vintages, I hope that everybody involved, not only those directly involved in the Salon des Vins de Loire but also those who prefer to show their wines at an ‘off’ salon, work together to keep this flagship event viable. If the Loire Valley loses the Salon des Vins de Loire, an event unparalleled anywhere else in the world of wine, everybody in the region – including all the organic and biodynmiac vignerons who prefer to set up stall in those ‘off’ salons – will inevitably lose out.

Vinovision: Measured Success

It’s Tuesday morning, and I am about to head off for my third and final day of tasting at Vinovision. First though, a few words on Monday, and on the salon so far.

There is no doubt in my mind that, from my point of view, this has been a good salon to attend. It feels small in comparison to the Salon des Vins de Loire, despite the fact this salon also takes in Burgundy, Champagne and Alsace (and the Jura too I think). Nevertheless there are hundreds of Loire domaines showing here; I think it feels smaller simply because they are packed in so tightly. Each domaine takes as a minimum a 6m2 space (yes, just 2m x 3m, for your stand, bottles, fridge, tables, chairs and whatever else you wish), which means dozens of domaines can be packed into a small space. And there are lots of high profile names here (some of which I mentioned yesterday), such as Henri Bourgeois and Alphonse Mellot, among others.

Having said that, this salon is a long way from being comprehensive, and yet that is what the Salon des Vins de Loire always offered. Of course, you would never find Clos Rougeard, Philippe Foreau or Louis-Benjamin Dagueneau there, but you would find almost everybody else of significance, and if topped up with visits to the various dependent salons to taste with Richard Leroy and the like a visit to the Salon des Vins de Loire would always give you the most comprehensive look possibale at what the Loire Valley was up to. This salon in Paris, however, falls far short of that, and feels more like a ‘top up’ salon.

Vinovision 2017

That shouldn’t be taken as any indication that I have been short of things to do though. Yesterday I tasted widely, with some good discoveries at domaines with which I was previously unfamiliar. I tasted with Julie Biet (top left) and her father Jean-Marc Biet, who are based in Seigy near the Cher, and who make some really strong red wines from the usual Touraine varieties grown on clay and limestone soils. Another discovery was Albin Roux (top right) of Domaine Roux; he and his father have vines in Quincy and Châteaumeillant, and turn out some attractive wines.

Back on more familiar territory I enjoyed tasting with Jean-Pierre Chevallier (bottom right) of Château de Villeneuve, simply because it was a reminder what a convincing and desirable range of wines he produces, from first cuvée to last, and I remain amazed that his top cuvée Le Grand Clos (or indeed any of his other wines) isn’t chased more by drinkers of good Cabernet Franc. Finally I tasted and talked with Frédéric Brochet (bottom left) of Ampelidae, first to get a low down on his latest wines, but also to learn about his acquisition of the vineyards of Pierre-Jacques Druet, which he purchased last year after Druet went bankrupt, and to find out what plans he has for them. That was an interesting, frank and insightful chat, for sure…….

With one day left as always there is too much I want to cram in for me to have any hope of succeeding, but this is the way of any good tasting trip. Then this evening I will fly back to Edinburgh, and I have a few days of normal life before heading back down to London for a big Muscadet tasting (focusing on older wines, crus communaux, lees-aged wines and so on) for Decanter magazine. I am looking forward to that one…..

Welcome to Vinovision

It is now one week on from my trip to Angers for the Renaissance tasting and Salon des Vins de Loire, the latter an event which – if I have been doing my sums correctly (no guarantees offered, obviously) – has been going for 31 years. I hope there will be a 32nd Salon, next year (more thoughts on that at a later date). This week, however, I am in Paris, for a brand new salon in its first year. Vinovision is billed as an international salon for cool-climate wines, or “vins septentrionaux” as the locals put it. And that means, alongside all the expensive fizzy stuff from Reims, and the expensive unfizzy stuff from between Dijon and Lyon, there is a strong showing from the Loire Valley.

So after returning from Angers last week, and then making a one-day dash down to London for a 2007 Bordeaux tasting with BI, on Saturday I flew out to Paris. I have based myself in a hotel not far from the salon (which is in the Paris Expo at Porte de Versailles, if you are interested – very easy to get to from the UK via Charles de Gaulle airport, so it is amazing I have seen only one other UK journalist here). The tasting runs from Sunday to Tuesday. And with over 260 exhibitors from the Loire Valley, if the Vinovision website is to be believed (I decided, rather than count them, that I would take them at their word), there has been plenty for me to do.

Vinovision 2017

Sunday was a mix of tasting at domaines I had to skip in Angers because of lack of time, such as Domaine de la Taille aux Loups (tasted with Jacky and Jean-Philippe Blot, the latter top left); domaines completely new to me, such as Adèle Rouzé, who is based in Quincy (top right), and domaines who have stopped attending the Salon des Vins de Loire, such as Champalou (tasted with Céline, bottom left) and Henri Bourgeois (tasted with Arnaud, bottom right). Reconnecting with domaines where I haven’t been able to visit and taste for some time may well turn out to be a theme of this salon, although it is also exciting to taste with people I haven’t met before, such as Adèle.

It was also a delight to bump into some old faces, such as Marc Thibault of Château de Villargeau, who I haven’t seen for years and years, as well as some new faces, including Harmon Skurnik of the eponymous NY importer, and Chris Hardy, who isn’t really a new face but he does have a new hat on, as this ex-Majestic employee is taking on the Loire-based courtier business so long associated with Charles and Philippa Sydney.

Looking at my list of planned tastings for today (Monday) or Tuesday, I think by the end of these three days I will have expanded my knowledge of Quincy, Châteaumeillant, Sancerre and the Coteaux de Giennois considerably. Not to mention Bourgueil, Saumur and Touraine. Let’s see how today goes – must dash!

The Longest Day

It is Tuesday morning and as I tuck into my pain au chocolat this morning I have realised I have just a half-day of tasting left before I head back to the UK, and I have a lot to squeeze in. Not because I have been lazy (honest) – yesterday I was tasting from about 9:30 am and I carried on until 11 pm (this is not a joke). It is because this trip is a little shorter than usual, as the Salon would not normally finish until Wednesday.

Yesterday’s roll-call of tastings was a long one then, starting with Pithon-Paillé and Jo Landron in the morning, ending with a rapid run-through of the latest and impending releases from Domaine de la Pépière and Vincent Caillé (that makes it sound like there was a lot of Muscadet, which there was, but there were a lot of other appellations and regions popping up as well). I also concentrated on trying to mix up familiar and unfamiliar domaines, and in the latter I made good discoveries, wines with fresh and pure flavours, but also less interesting discoveries, where such features gave way to funky, oxidised or other unusual flavours. It’s the natural wine lottery, a game without favourable odds.

I was ejected from the Salon at 7 pm, at which point I headed over to Domaine du Closel in Savennières for a special tasting hosted by Evelyne de Jessey-Pontbriand, proprietor of this estate for about fifteen years, a fact celebrated by her pouring the fifteen most recent vintages from this estate, from 2001 onwards (which actually made fourteen, because there was no 2012 because of frost, and I think the 2016 has gone the same way). This was a great tasting, held in a very atmospheric room in the château (pictured above), hung with tapestries and illuminated by candle- and lamp-light (it was actually much lighter than my picture suggests – it wasn’t that kind of blind tasting).

I am off now for Tuesday’s tastings. I must call in on François Chidaine and Philippe Alliet, two domaines I wouldn’t want to miss out. After that I might try and call in on a few more less familiar names. There are a few domaines I haven’t visited that are definitely on my hit list – Jacky Blot and Alphonse Mellot, for example – but I will meet up with them at Vinovision in a few days time.