Thursday, 1 April 2010

As many of you will have heard, this week is the much talked about 2009 en Primeur here in Bordeaux

This yearly event when 6000 wine professionals descend on the wine region of Bordeaux (also my home!) to have the first glimpse of the new vintage. The object is for the experts and buyers to taste the raw wines and, if they are confident enough with their tasting skills, to put their money where their palate is and buy now at a special ‘primeur’ price before the wines are actually in bottle.

This is a very difficult skill to master as the taster must be able to see into the future and predict if the wines will hold up, improve or decline in quality thus affecting the value and selling potential of the wine. For us winemakers, this is a skill that we learn very early on but is extremely difficult if you have never tasted unfinished wines before.

The weather was atrocious this morning. It’s the English who normally get the blame, as they always make up the vast majority of the buyers, but this year I think the Chinese will have to take the blame!

My first stop today was at the fabulous hotel, spa and winemaking St Emilion Grand Cru Classé Château Grand Barrail, situated opposite the infamous Chateau Figeac. The huge posh white marquees spread across the chateau grounds were visible as soon as we passed through the village of St Emilion and after some very dubious JMS parking we found ourselves in the security controlled entrance tent.

In order to be allowed through we had to show a business card, answer a stream questions, fill out forms, input data into a computer, print badges and then the impossible task of attaching it to your rain coat before finally being given the option of taking one of the varied sized Riedel crystal glasses and ushered into the tasting area; this is definitely not the Midi as all I wanted to do was to get on and taste the wine!

Once inside there were big round white tables spread around the gigantic marquee. Every table had 4-6 wines available to taste and each with a representative of the Château to explain the wine. We moved slowly round the 150 or so wines, being stalled by knowing most of the people so well that we spoke mainly about how they were rather than the wine!

Once we had said hello to what felt like the entire winemaking population of St Emilion, Pomerol and Entre-Deux-Mers, we finally managed to head into the heart of St Emilion for my favourite kind of tasting in the old church theatre.

It is here where the wines are laid out in long lines in a professional and quiet environment so you can serve yourself and taste in your own time…or so I thought! After the very first wine I looked up and my friend Jose from Remond barrel makers was there. Then it was a slap on the back from Carl from Chateau Mangot! Anyway we tasted through a hundred wines together and I can safely say 2009 really is an incredible vintage.

A quick lunch and we then headed for the tasting at the prestigious Château Beausejour Becot where we tasted through the crème de la crème of the St Emillon chateau wines. With black stained teeth we eventually left for home to get changed, ready for a dinner invitation in the centre of Bordeaux with some visiting English and French buyers.


No comments: