Château Troplong-Mondot, 1962 – 2019

Edging out onto the glass floor of the Skywalk high above cliffs of Cabo Girão on the island of Madeira, I made a few tentative steps before coming to a halt at the very edge, where I could hold on to the railing which ran around the periphery of the platform, to take what feeling of security that offered.

False security, of course. But even this falsity was better than nothing.

I proceeded, slowly, slowly, ever-so-slowly, to lower my eyes, an acknowledgement that I would have to take in what was below me in order to accept the full reality of where I was standing. I would actually have to look at it. To face my fear. To face it down.

To defeat it.

Otherwise this would all count for nothing.

Eons passed. Civilisations rose and fell. Stars were born and died. But eventually my gaze met what lay beneath my feet.

Château Troplong-Mondot, 1962 - 2019

I stood upon a reinforced (well, that’s what I hoped those dots meant) glass-panelled floor, below which there was an expanse of…..nothing. The cliff I had stepped out from was behind me. More than half a kilometre below the soles of my shoes, visible through the glass floor, I could just make out the snaking shore line and fields – and maybe vineyards too – as they writhed their way along the foot of the rock face. I drank in the sight, gripped the rail a little more firmly, and quickly realised that having completed my task I could now make the journey back to safety.

A few seconds later I was back on Terra Firma, atop the cliff which, at 580 metres, is recognised as one of the highest in Europe. I had passed the test, and conquered my (very modest) case of acrophobia. Like a marathon finisher or an iron man competitor I decided some reward was due, so I headed to a nearby restaurant eager for espetada and – judging by recent meals out – maybe a glass of something from the Alentejo. The feeling of content relief that this adventure was now behind me, and I would never have to step on any glass floor ever again, was tangible.

Little did I realise that my visit to the Cabo Girão Skywalk had been little more than a training run.

Château Troplong-Mondot Reborn

You are maybe (perhaps ‘inevitably’ would be more appropriate than ‘maybe’) wondering what my walk above the cliffs of Cabo Girão in Madeira has to do with the premier grand cru classé estate of Château Troplong Mondot in St Emilion, which is the focus of this report. The answer to this question can be found hidden deep within the estate, where the winemaking facilities and cellars have recently undergone a major expansion and overhaul under the direction of manager Aymeric de Gironde.

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