All my pre-departure research had left me rather gloomy about the week ahead, tasting through the latest vintage in Bordeaux. Thank goodness I was travelling with Jack, ever upbeat, hopefully we could buoy each other along through the teeth-shattering tastings.
I feel like these blogs have become something of a confessions booth 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.
I am often asked why I have such a strong attachment to the wines of the Northern Rhône and in particular those of Côte-Rôtie.
Chablis - arriving in Fleys on the road from Tonnerre Towards the end of October I planned to set off from Kent to start a trip to Chablis and Champagne, and was told, when I began to make appointments for the Monday, that the Sunday was by chance the rather local event, the 'Fête des vins de Chablis' - a chance for the local vignerons to show their wares in a street closed for the day, and a good opportunity to try the wines of quite a number of different domaines - so I set off rather earlier than I'd originally intended to get there in time.
Our visits to Burgundy in the Autumn each year are planned to coincide with the moment the vignerons have finally ‘got away’ all the wines from the recent harvest, and they've had a moment to recover from the strains and stresses of vintage, an all-consuming and monumentally physical time.
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.