Well, I’m not homeward bound actually, that’s just the particular Simon & Garfunkel tune swimming around in my head at the moment. I’m not sure what it is doing there; I haven’t listened to any of their work for a long time, apart from those numbers that crop up on the radio from time to time. Nevertheless, it seems somewhat appropriate. I’m sitting in an airport waiting for my flight to be called, destination Bordeaux. And the region does feel like something of a second home; I’ve been out this way a lot in recent years, and barely a few months seems to have passed since I was last heading out this way. In truth it is almost exactly six months since I was in Bordeaux, but let’s not allow facts to get in the way of a half-decent story, shall we?
The trip promises to be an interesting one. For the first time, contemporaneous with Winedoctor’s conversion to a pay-to-view site, I have made all my own arrangements for this primeurs trip, and I will be meeting almost all my own expenses. Previous trips have been a bit of half-and-half. I thought it important that I do this if my notes are to be taken more seriously. The only help I have accepted is a few nights in a Médoc château in order to be nearer the left bank appellations, otherwise I will be staying in a little quayside hotel in Libourne. Although some like to paint the primeurs as nothing more than a giant knees-up for buyers and bloggers, oiling the wheels of sales and publicity, I see it as an excellent (albeit inevitably flawed) opportunity to get to grips with the latest vintage, and that will be my focus for the next week. So sorry, I won’t be able to report on fireworks and parties at first growth châteaux, there will be no write-ups of lengthy tasting dinners, no signs of schmoozing with the Bordelais. This will disappoint critics who see fit to criticise the attendance and behaviour of other critics at the primeurs, but that’s the way it is.
I have also drawn up my own timetable for the primeurs, outside of that arranged by the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux. I see little appeal in being shipped around by mini-bus from one tasting to the next, a sort of conveyor belt of good opinion. I want to make my own timetable, making visits in a certain order to best make sense of the vintage, and allowing me time at those châteaux where the peri-tasting chat is the most informative. So I am certainly ‘going it alone’ this week. Few other journalists do this, as far as I know, although one that does is Neal Martin. Although as Neal heads out for two weeks not one, I suspect he gets quite a few more visits in than I will.
So, that’s my flight called. Bordeaux here I come, via Gate 20. First up is a tasting this evening with Bill Blatch, provided my flight arrives on time. Here’s hoping.