Thursday, April 05, 2007

Day Three in Bordeaux

The day started pretty sensationally at Pontet Canet where Monsieur Tesseron and his charming niece greeted us with genuine warmth. Amazingly it was a day and a half into the trip and we found our first “jumper around the neck, over the jacket” French specimen. We just can’t pull it off back home, can we? While we got stuck into the wine, Alex showed off his carpentry roots (not for the first or last time either) with a thorough inspection of the antique table. Curious behaviour. The wine is pretty special too, with a wonderfully pure expression of fresh fruit married to a creamy luxurious texture. Like last year, it will be another of the stars of the vintage.

This year we snuck up to Cos from a different direction and were able to subvert their hawk-like security system by sneaking the Zafira (think gazelle-like handling) in through the gates just as someone else was leaving. I vaguely remember a Mr. Bean sketch from years ago that didn’t end so well but we got in unscathed. Jean-Guillaume Prats had obviously enjoyed the recent tasting and dinner he had conducted chez Bibendum as he seemed very pleased to see us. He explained that the large excavation on site was for a new swimming pool. Perfect (in an unusual way), we thought, but when he explained that he will secretly be running a cable into the nearest nuclear power station to half-inch some free electricity, we got the hint that he might be pulling our legs. And the stories kept coming when we tasted the wines, as he explained that the famous elephant crest of Cos came about from a trip to Thailand years back where a customs official bundled him into a government jet in which they flew ‘to see a man’ in Laos about some elephant statues. Feeling slightly intimidated by the trouble that had been gone to, he felt he had to pull out the cheque book and stump up $10k for these Laotian delights. He was a little surprised and very pleased with himself in the end when two large stone beasts turned up in wooden crates 3 months later. It’s one way to do it…

After another episode of Challenge Anneka in the Vines, we raced down more than a few back roads to find the Pauillac/St. Julien UGC at Chateau Talbot. A pretty mixed tasting altogether with some real highlights like Lafon Rochet, Lynch Bages, Grand Puy Ducasse, Gruaud Larose, Beychevelle and Branaire Ducru, amongst some others that seemed a bit tough and awkward at that moment. And then to really get the juices flowing before lunch we made it to the Medoc UGC as well. Beaumont was quite approachable; Cantermerle shone through with some real class; and Chasse-Spleen was a revelation as well.

At lunch, we returned to La Salamandre, an old favourite down near the waters edge in Pauillac. “I’m going to have to take my badge off or else people are going to ask me for my autograph”. Yes Ben was really warming to the task now and there was a genuine fear that he may be mobbed by screaming wine groupies (wipies?). “Do you think those Japanese people want my autograph?” They did look awfully keen but unfortunately they seemed to be having a bit too much trouble ordering their food to concentrate on Ben. On any other day…

Dessert took the form of Petit Village, Pibran, Suduiraut, Tourelles and Pichon Baron with the always charming Edouard Andre at Chateau Pibran (Pichon is in the middle of having another underground cellar built). What a great little line-up! Pichon was charming and Tourelles will be fantastic value. We even got to taste the 05 Tourelles as well for the first time and it was superb. Look out for a market-first offer of this later in the year. Then to Lafite where the Duhart Milon and the Grand Vin were very popular. Thumping amounts of fruit, body and tannins – they are really built for the long haul.

At this point, things started to go a bit like they do at this point in the day with some delirium invading the direction-giving on the way to Calon Segur. “It’s left. No, it’s right. No, left. Oh I don’t know…Sorry everyone, I think I’ve lost my marbles…it’s been coming!” Meanwhile up front, Alex was trying to explain the effect the shortened working week was having on sales of Winnebagos in France. You can just imagine the reception this got from the back seat. In the end it was well worth the trip as Calon Segur was wonderful with the heady and exotic savouriness alongside terrific fruit that marked out the 2005 as well. Madame was also very happy to see the front cover of the 2005 Offer with her Chateau featuring proudly. We then raced back down to Giscours for the Margaux UGC and then to Cantemerle for the Sauternes. Too many wines to mention at this point but Giscours, Ferriere, Dauzac, Kirwan, Rieussec and Lafaurie-Peyraugay seem to have stuck in the memory. Dinner in the evening at Barde-Haut with Neal Martin, amongst others, who told us all what it was really like to work with Big Bob Parker. Look out for his multi-parted Tolkein-esque Burgundy Report coming out soon. Highlight was when one of the team (who didn’t realize who he was) happened to let slip to our host that no one really read Neal Martin anyway. Priceless…don’t tell anybody though.


At 10:03 AM, Blogger lotuseater said...

Stumbled upon your blog re 2005 Burgundy. When in London often visit Bibendum to buy a few bottles for dinner parties. Enjoy the Juice's tart attack. Yet for so locquacious (sic) a fellow, he manages to never find a wine he doesn't enjoy. While admirable in a co(s)mic sort of way - this smacks of pinot prejudice. One nagging question re the vintage: will many of the Grand Crus turn out to be slightly better versions of 1985?


Post a Comment

<< Home