I feel like these blogs have become something of a confession of late, so here’s another one. As much as, when we visit Bordeaux, I’m acting in a professional capacity (something many of you will know I’m just about capable of…) to taste, evaluate and communicate a vintage to you, I’m also secretly really just figuring out what I want to buy.
Great old, grand old Pauillac. The most revered appellation in the Médoc felt more like it had gone back in time than perhaps any other area. The wines were generally very lean and precise – Merlot, again, suffered a fair bit up here and, with the wines usually Cabernet focussed anyway, it meant that these high percentages were pushed even higher.
I have a soft spot for Margaux. I thought it was worth prefacing everything you’re going to read with this – The feelings I have for Margaux are along the lines of the ones I have for great Burgundy.
Our tour de Saint-Julien started on a lovely sunny morning, with both of us slightly the worse for wear from the night before, having briefly gone our separate ways (David for a dinner at Château Lafite, myself for a far more oikish, if exceptionally fun do in Bordeaux Town Hall).
Pessac-Leognan is a slightly peculiar place. You start in the city – Carmes Haut Brion, it’s fair to say, is quite literally an ‘urban winery’, such is its proximity to the hustle and bustle of Bordeaux. Slowly you start to drift out, Haut-Brion & La Mission, two absolutely stunning Châteaux, appear almost out of nowhere, cutting through the tower blocks and urban sprawl.
Did Merlot suffer in Saint Émilion? Yes, is the short answer, but it was quite terroir dependent and also seemed less impacted than their left bank cousins.
How on earth to summarise a vintage by appellation, which more or totally defied homogeneity? I’m going to try my best, almost solely using our own meandering experience and stack of tasting notes. Luckily Pomerol, which is where we began, makes is rather easier than most.
Have you ever found, upon opening a bottle of Brunello, that you’ve tasted it and thought ‘I like this, but it’s just a little too austere for me – where is the pure pleasure?’. If that’s crossed your mind and stopped you from getting really excited about the wines, then the 2017 releases are for you.
You know what I can’t stand. When you try and look up something very simple like ‘how to change a light bulb’ and a website insists on running you through the history of the lightbulb, every other lightbulb on the market and what might replace the lightbulb in the future before just telling you what you need to know – all in order to up their content-based hits.
Day 3 - Wednesday, 10th of November The weather turned ugly. Or at least, had a poor night’s sleep and didn’t put on any makeup. The piercing blue sky turned the colour of iron and the low temperature (which hovered somewhere between freezing and 4 degrees) became very evident without the warmth of the sun.
Our annual visit to Burgundy this year was a tale of two halves, and I’m not just talking red & white. After the difficulty of the 2019 tasting run, where Charles and I had to tackle every producer over a 10-day stretch (to avoid self-isolating twice on return), we decided this year to split up 2020.
The Outsiders 2021 We enjoyed a slightly belated tasting of the wines which variously seem to have become known as ‘The September Series’ ‘La Place Late Releases’ or to us ‘The Outsiders’. Something which more or less began with a few Californian producers looking for global reach for their wine, it now represents wine from Italy, Oregon, Argentina, Australia, The Rhone and Bordeaux itself.