Bordeaux has broad horizons. A maritime city in a former imperial power with a rich viticultural resource, it has always traded well beyond its own borders. England's seemingly unquenchable thirst has been its mainstay but by the late 18th century wines were travelling much further afield on a regular basis.
'The food of the Inns of England is the stuff of which heaven is made.' At least it was in 1748 according to the then Venetian ambassador to Britain. It's a quotation popularised by the late, great TV chef, polymath and bon viveur, Clarissa Dixon Wright (if you haven't listened to her episode of Desert Island Discs, you must).
Those who have visited Piedmont will understand just how varied these beautiful Alpine foothills are in aspect, altitude and geology. The best winemakers are able to translate the nuance of these sites, or 'crus', into delicious and distinctive expressions of Nebbiolo. Andrea Sottimano is an absolute master of the art.
On Wednesday we published our immediate thoughts on the wines of the Right Bank (see 2018 Bordeaux En Primeur: Right Bank Roundup). Here are our first impressions from the other side of the river and a list of wines we felt were outstanding within their quality level or commune.
With most of our Right Bank tastings now complete, we thought it would be timely to offer some initial thoughts on the 2018s we’ve tasted. Below is a quick summary of our key Right Bank impressions, including which wines we think are contenders for ‘wine of the vintage’, as well as a few more down to earth picks that really impressed us.
We will touch down at Mérignac airport early on Sunday morning and fly straight into the 2018 Bordeaux en primeur tastings. Judgement will be reserved until all the barrels have been sampled but here are some early impressions of the vintage and thoughts on the upcoming campaign.
'The recent Lea & Sandeman Italian tasting was a voyage of discovery,' said Susy Atkins in last week's Telegraph. We are thrilled that our tasting has drawn so much positive feedback, from journalists and customers alike. Italian wine is definitely alla moda and it's easy to see why.
We have only just returned from our annual pilgrimage to Burgundy but the en primeur campaign is already looming large. Our visits in October and November were an absolute delight. Many vignerons were wearing broad smiles again and as well they might, this is clearly a vintage that will give enormous early drinking pleasure for both red and white.
We all know that our feathery new world friend can emerge from the furnace a touch on the bland side. The old bird's silver lining is a free rein when it comes to wine pairing. Whites or reds make excellent matches, particularly those that are packed with flavour.
Everyone likes to indulge in a special bottle or three over Christmas and the L&S team is no different. We've all squirrelled away something to savour and share with (appreciative!) friends and family. L&S Top Brass Charles Lea: I'm rather hoping to get a chance to raid the better end of my brother-in-law's cellar - the 2002 Vieux Château Certan was particularly memorable last time.
Our final day careering around the Côte began with a rather bleary-eyed breakfast. Conversation quickly turned to volume (which was nothing at all to do with the size of my bowl of cornflakes.