Bordeaux 2014 Primeurs: I read sumsing. . .
I suspect most people would prefer to taste dry wines followed by sweet, rather than sweet followed by dry; trying to get your head around a mouthful of tannin-rich Pauillac is hard enough without starting with all your tastebuds coated with the lingering sweetness of Sauternes, its fragrant golden fruits, and every single gram of its residual sugar doing its best to cloud your judgement. No doubt this is why, when all the other UGC tastings shut up shop at 6pm, the plucky Sauternais hang on in there for another hour, ready to serve last-minute, post-Pauillac tasters.
I already tasted Sauternes on Sunday, but there were a couple of wines missing, most notably Château Rieussec, and so having trundled down the D2 stuck behind a very slow moving luxury minibus (probably full of the tasting team from Farr’s, or Fine & Rare, or perhaps it was just WSJ wine journalist Will Lyons in his mobile wardrobe) I arrived at Château La Lagune (the Sauternes venue) at 6:38 pm. More than enough time to find the wines I needed to taste, and maybe just check in again on one or two others. But as I entered I spotted the UGC ladies, who were ready to scan the barcode on my badge – which I suddenly realised was “dans ma voiture”, as I put it. “Oh, no problem” she replied in a sultry French accent that would melt even Boy George’s heart (you have to read this in your head in the same accent), and she immediately set her machine to print a new badge for me. “I know you are Chris Kissack, because I read sumsing about you….”
Anyway, I’m starting at the end again, when I should really start at the beginning. I started Wednesday at 9am at Château Margaux, never a bad place to start, and then followed up with visits to Château Palmer, Château Rauzan-Ségla and Château d’Issan. I was sorry to learn at the third of these visits that John Kolasa, the mastermind behind the renaissance of both Château Rauzan-Ségla and Château Canon in St Emilion, is set to retire this June. He has decided to go while the going is good, and perhaps to travel more, to see his increasingly large number of grandchildren who are scattered across France and Canada. I wish him well.
Thereafter it was up to Château Ducru-Beaucaillou to taste the wines of Bruno Borie, who was in ebulliant form (as always I think), before going completely off-piste from my schedule. I had intended to taste at a number of other UGC events, but first I had a couple of gaps I needed to fill in (the result of a press Pessac-Leognan tasting I went to where there was no Malartic-Lagravière and no Smith-Haut-Lafitte, which seems nuttily slapdash to me) and so I wangled an invitation to the Dourthe tasting at Château Belgrave. It would only take 20 minutes. I arrived at about 1pm, and didn’t leave for Château La Lagune until 6pm.
The reason I lingered so long is that this was a great tasting. Not only was there a huge selection of wines available, all colours, all communes, dry and sweet, white and red, the wines were just perfectly presented, the temperatures were spot on, and I didn’t come across a duff sample in there. The tasting, which was seated, was divided up into about 30 flights, and all I had to was raise my hand and a sommelier would bring the requested flight, in a little rack of half bottles (as above). Once finished, the sommelier would take them away, restock if required, and ensure they were returned to a cool 17ºC before they went out again.
I started by tasting Margaux, a target for the afternoon, followed by wines from the Haut-Médoc, the Médoc, Moulis and Listrac, then I retasted all the St Julien classed growths available (becuase I just wasn’t convinced they were showing right yesterday afternoon, and although some might blame the atmospheric pressure, or whether it was a root day or a leaf day or some other such nonsense, I think they were just tired samples, or a tired taster maybe), then I picked up those missing wines from Pessac-Léognan in red and white, followed by some white Graves, and I finished in style with some Bordeaux Blanc.
Today (Thursday) it is Pomerol, with La Conseillante, Le Pin and Petrus just for starters, with more Pomerol and St Emilion for the main course and pudding. Oh, and what was that “sumsing” the UGC lady had read? I am afriad I was distracted by Caroline Frey, and her invitation to taste the latest four vintages (2014 to 2011) of La Lagune, so I am afraid I never discovered it. If I find out, I will be sure to let you know.