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Bordeaux 2019 at Two Years

Bordeaux 2019 at Two Years

I promise I will write the introduction to this Bordeaux 2019 report without once mentioning Covid-19.

Damn it! Failed already.

The truth is, however, Covid-19 is all pervasive. When I booked my travel for this report, the cornerstone of which was a two-week trip to Bordeaux in December 2021 (full details of all the tastings that feed into the report are provided at the foot of the page) I did so with no certainty that I would actually be going. Would yet another wave of the virus call a halt to international travel, as France closed her borders? Or would I test positive the day before travel, only to then have to put all my plans in the bin? What if, during the long sequence of tastings and visits, I contract Covid-19 and find myself in self-imposed isolation, unable to return to the UK?

And if that were so, where would I self-isolate? For obvious reasons the ideal location would be the cellars of Château Latour, where at least I would never go thirsty, so I made a mental note of the technical director’s mobile number in the hope, should the need arise, that she would oblige. Then I packed my bags and departed. And as it turned out everything went very smoothly as I travelled to Bordeaux, via Paris. Of course I followed all the Covid rules along the way. Not that I had any choice; these rules were rigorously enforced on the train heading down from the capital to Bordeaux, the guards directing a high-volume vocal tirade at any passenger not wearing a mask. Good for them.

I launched myself from the train at Bordeaux, straight to a tasting at Château La Mission Haut-Brion (well in truth I spent a night in a dingy railway hotel first, but poetic licence precludes me from having to admit that).

Bordeaux 2019

It was as my trip came to an end, after nearly two weeks of tasting that it looked like my plans were going to unravel. A sudden escalation in travel restrictions imposed in response to the Omicron wave meant securing an impromptu Covid test in the middle of what was already a hectic tasting schedule, in order to gain re-entry to the UK. My thanks to Jonathan Maltus for allowing me to shift my appointment to the early evening so I could head down to Libourne – to what is now my favourite pharmacy – to get tested. Then my train to Paris was cancelled, and the next one was delayed, all the result of someone crashing their car onto the Bordeaux-Paris railway line in stormy weather. I began scouting alternative routes to Paris – maybe a late-night flight, or perhaps I could hitch a lift – but happily no such measures were required, as in the end I grabbed a seat on the last train out of Bordeaux, only a few hours late.

The final hurdle was actually catching the flight. As the UK now endures third-country status outside the European Union I had to join the back of a very long ‘Other Passports’ queue at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, for just two manned desks, while EU citizens sailed through the electronic passport gates. Close to two hours later and I was through, and I was free to return to the UK to participate in the nation’s most popular pastime in 2021, which was dodging Covid-19 in the run-up to Christmas. And, of course, I began writing up my notes.

I really shouldn’t have pledged to open this report without mentioning Covid-19, should I?

So here is a new pledge. I will not mention Covid-19 from this point onwards, at least not by name. From this point on it is all about the wine. I start first with a fresh look back at the growing season, compacted into just a few short paragraphs, followed by my thoughts on overall style and quality in 2019, looking back to those conclusions I reached after the primeurs, and how I feel about the vintage now, after this most recent tasting marathon. All before I begin publishing my region-by-region reports.

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