A Visit to Château Raymond-Lafon, 2011
It was an uncharacteristically bright and sunny afternoon when I drew my car to a halt on the gravel at the side of Château Raymond-Lafon. I say uncharacteristic because this was late October, and if there is one thing I didn’t expect to enjoy on this trip to Bordeaux it was clear blue skies and warm sunshine. But that was the story of the 2011 vintage in Bordeaux (and indeed all of France); erratic, topsy-turvy weather, an unusually cool summer flanked by an unseasonably warm spring and autumn. Such atypical weather might not have been ideal for the vines, but right I was grateful for it; I would never miss out on a walk in the vineyard to inspect the vines, whatever the weather, but given the choice I will choose sunshine over showers any day. You would too, particularly if you have ever had the experience of stepping out from your car onto the soil of the vineyard only to feel those nearly-new shoes sinking three inches into the soft, yielding clay. The combination of ‘squelch-and-sink’ is not a happy one.
There were no such problems today though. Raymond-Lafon’s proprietor Jean-Pierre Meslier (pictured left) came out to greet me, and we started where every wine writer, critic, blogger or otherwise should go; the vineyards. As we were at the front of this petit château – I’m referring to the relatively diminutive house here, rather than the quality of the wines which is first-rate – we strolled the few paces to take in the view from Jean-Pierre’s front gate. It’s not a bad view at all; across the road lies an expanse of vines, and on the top of the gentle hill sits the château that owns this vineyard, none other than Yquem. Jean-Pierre has illustrious neighbours, and this was confirmed when we turned around and walked to look at the Raymond-Lafon vineyard, which sits behind the house. Here the vines rise up a gentle incline, creating a horizon in the near-distance, the green of the vines below (yes, they were still predominantly green even in late-October, although certainly tinged with green and brown) and the blue of the sky above. Poking out above this false horizon four rooftops were visible, providing me with an immediate game of Spot the Château. Could I identify the four properties from a mere glimpse of spire, weather vane or castellation? As I had spent the day so far touring and photographing the appellation it was not too hard; from left to right, Sigalas-Rabaud, Rabaud-Promis, Lafaurie-Peyraguey and Rayne-Vigneau. Did I say Jean-Pierre had illustrious neighbours?Please log in to continue reading: