Monday, 6 September 2010

Flying Winemakers Arrive!

Today I find myself at Bordeaux airport in the rather makeshift new Bordeaux Billie terminal waiting for the two flying winemakers who will be helping me through harvest.

First to arrive from Madrid was Maïtena Barrero, daughter of winemaker Tony Barrero the man behind El Bombero and other great wines. Next through customs all the way from New Zealand was James Macdonald – also from a star winemaking family, Hunter Wines in Marlborough.

With Maïtena’s good experience making wines in a hot climate, I will be sending her to be based in the Midi to keep an eye on lazy grape growers and cellarhands when my back is turned! James on the other hand will be based here in Bordeaux at the Chai and his expertise from the North Island in NZ means he will be assigned to the Sauvignon Blanc, along with helping out Petit Denis and myself in the hub of the Chai winemaking.

Once back at the Chai we started the day with a briefing of all the wines and volumes we were to be making this year and who would be responsible for what. This was followed by a huge range tasting of all the wines JMS and I made from last year so that everyone had an idea of the style of wines which will prove vital to choosing the harvest dates.

The large range at the Chai is not a common sight for winemakers and a slightly concerned look had started to set in. However once I assured everyone that I would be on hand to oversee and that I was not going to leave in the middle of nowhere the faces turned back to normal!

Once the tasting had finished and everyone was clear in their minds we headed out into the vineyards and wineries of the Entre-Deux-Mers to show James the Sauvignon Blanc and introduced him to what will be his new working comrades over the next 2½ months. JMS led the way by pointing, talking fast and giving inside advice – well it is his 18th harvest here so he knows the place rather well!

On return to Castillon and the obligatory introduction to French cuisine at none other than Le Voyageurs, Petit Denis was over the moon and the new winemakers received the apparently Dordogne custom gift of a Opinal pen knife. But for good luck to be exchanged, the winemakers had to hand back a small copper coin – well that’s what Petit Denis says anyway!

In the evening the Chai and Libby hosted magnificently once more, yet another fantastic wedding reception for 100 people! We were entertained by accordionist Cristian Gourault whilst the guests sipped on Laithwaite Champagne and moved freely amongst the barrels inside cellar and outside to the quay.

The outbounder team on their two week stint at the Chai were also on hand to serve up a range of Chai wines including Baron du Roussanne, VO, La Voute, Font del Bosc, Grand Chai Paullac.


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