In the depths of winter, the vineyards of Bordeaux look stark and bare. The soils have the grey hue of an eternal dusk, the vines are black silhouettes, the ghosts of the vintage just passed. And it can be bitterly cold. It can be difficult to believe that, in just a couple of months time, the landscape will once more erupt into life as the buds burst forth.
My first ever press trip to this region – many years ago now – took place in the pallor of December, and Château Thieuley was one domaine I visited. I confess looking back, many years on, I was all at sea; I imagine that is how many people feel when they parachute into a region only previously witnessed through the pages of Hugh Johnson’s Wine Atlas. We were wined and dined each evening and then chauffeured around in a semi-torpid haze the morning after, for three days straight, before then being bundled on the plane back to Blighty. Pretty normal for many press trips, I think.
Despite the frosty air outside, I remember the welcome at Château Thieuley was warm. There was a tasting, not just of their wines, but also some of their peers from across Bordeaux, with whom they had recently joined forces to create a marketing group known as Bordeaux Oxygène. And then there was dinner, before we headed back to our beds for the night. But in the end I never wrote this particular visit up, simply because I didn’t understand the context for the domaine and its wines. I had a niggling feeling that I had just scratched the surface. I resolved to revisit the domaine, and so after many years of visits to Bordeaux, of primeurs tastings, harvest-time visits and more, I decided to close the loop. I returned to Château Thieuley.