It is Monday morning and I am about to head out for Chateau Pape-Clément, my first visit in a day of tasting Pessac-Leognan and Sauternes. It’s April, and of course I am in Bordeaux for the primeurs.
It has been an eventful few days. I could write a book chapter on it, the outline for which would include a cancelled flight, one and a half days living as Mehran Karimi Nasseri, a broken sat-nav device (fortunately all my days of driving around Bordeaux do seem to have sunk in so I am coping with this, only two wrong turns so far), a damaged hire car, a 4am bed-collapse and two exploding tanker trucks. No wonder Bordeaux tourism is picking up – it’s simply amazing how much you can squeeze into a weekend here.
Although you may find it hard to believe, I have also tasted some wine since arriving in Bordeaux. This includes a shed-load of St Emilion, piles of Pomerol, a miniscule amount of minor right-bank and left-bank wines, and a slew of Sauternes.
I kicked off yesterday with a visit to see Jonathan Maltus (pictured above), in St Emilion, who was on fine form for a Sunday morning. I was particularly proud to have located him at Château Teyssier in Vignonet without the help of my sat-nav. This is especially impressive when you consider that many vignerons living up the road in St Emilion don’t even know where Vignonet is. Jonathan impressed with a tasting sheet with my name printed on it, automatically qualifying him for 100 points. Afterwards I called in at Château La Dominique, not only to taste their wines but I also bathed myself in the Michel Rolland collection. Even though he gave up consulting at a number of properties quite a few years ago he was still showing over a hundred wines.
Later I popped into Château Cambon-la-Pelouse to see how the Biturica group of estates (Château Belle-Vue, Château Agassac, Château Cambon-la-Pelouse and a few others) did in 2015, but was disappointed to find it deserted. I subsequently found out the group seems to have disbanded, a real shame, as the tasting often revealed a few cru bourgeois gems. Fortunately, I picked up many of the wines at Château Rauzan-Ségla, at the Ulysse Cazabonne négociant tasting, so it all came good at the end. Thereafter I headed up to Château Lagrange, for a tour, tasting and dinner, featuring wines from 2010 back to 1985. It was the only formal dinner I am attending during the primeurs, and it was a good choice.
That was Sunday. On Saturday I was no less busy tasting, although the day was less fragmented. Having risen at 4am I flew in that morning, picked up my hire car and then drove to St Emilion. I spent the best part of the day with the Cercle Rive Droite at Château Bellefont-Belcier, tasting about 60 or 70 right-bankers (and trying not to fall asleep after that early start, easier said than done), followed up by an evening of Sauternes, from the very entry-level wines up to top classed growths. It was a pretty smart tasting, in a really interesting vintage, one where there is quality to be had, but there is also variability, although I don’t think I will get a handle on that until I get to the Médoc, on Tuesday.
More detail on all this, especially that collapsing bed (I know this is why people subscribe, nothing to do with detail, analysis, tasting notes and all that nonsense), in my subscriber reports which start next week. For now, I am off to Pessac-Léognan via the Rocade, Bordeaux’s delightful ring road which is always very quiet, and never becomes gridlocked with rain or accidents, especially at this time of the morning.