The weather during the primeurs is said by some to influence how well the wines show, the clear skies and sunshine of high pressure systems lifting the aromatics of the wines (and perhaps also the spirits of the tasters), while the rolling and rumbling clouds of a low pressure system are said to do the opposite. How much truth there is in this is up for debate, as once you start applying some science to the concept it all begins to unravel. Nevertheless, adverse weather conditions can certainly make for a miserable primeurs week, although personally I find this is because I don’t enjoy being drenched by a sudden rainstorm as I run for the tasting room, or being blown off my feet by hurricane-like winds when I stop off somewhere for lunch.
Happily, on at least one of my earlier visits to Bordeaux, many years ago now, the weather was fine, the skies free of clouds and the sunshine bright. It wasn’t a warm day, the breeze carrying some cool air, perhaps blown along from some distant frozen land. The gentle wind rustled through the leaves on the trees, while the vineyards all around lay curiously silent; there was a little budburst to be seen here and there but no leaves had yet fully emerged, so the vineyards retained their wintery palette of grey and brown. Even so, I sensed that the green of spring and summer would soon be here. And so with the taste of Château Cheval Blanc still fresh on my palate I hopped into my hire car and set off for my next appointment, at one of Pomerol’s most famous and yet also youngest names, Le Pin.
This was to be my first visit to the domaine, and I was unsure of what to expect. Somewhat unsure of the correct route (this was long before I learnt my way around Pomerol) I edged gingerly along, enjoying the spectacle of the vines and catching sight of a few well-known châteaux along the way. It is not a long journey from Cheval Blanc to Le Pin, a distance of not even two kilometres, but there was plenty to see. I glimpsed first the grandeur of Château L’Évangile, which looks out onto the vineyards of Château Cheval Blanc, the two facing off from either side of the boundary that marks where St Emilion ends and Pomerol begins. Then I turned onto the road that runs down into Catusseau, past Château Petit Village on the right and Château Beauregard on the left. Both are striking in their own way, the modern facilities at Petit Village distinct from the older buildings packed tightly around. Château Beauregard, meanwhile, has an air of faded beauty, a low-slung mansion of considerable proportions, easy on the eye although to be honest it looks nothing special from the road, and one has to take a detour around the back, off road, to catch a good view of it.
Turning right at the roundabout on the edge of Catusseau, all these famous châteaux now lay behind me. Here the buildings are understated, and although some are clearly functional and related to the region’s main activity, others are clearly residential, houses and vines jostling for position on the edge of the Pomerol plateau. And, as my short journey came to an end with my arrival at the old house at Le Pin, I could see it was no exception to this rule.