Monday, 2 April 2012

Bordeaux Primeur Week

This week sees the annual tastings of the previous year’s wine kick off in Bordeaux. The week is devoted to the first-glimpse tastings of the 2011 vintage from all the Bordeaux wine regions. Wine professionals from the world over attend tastings held by associations and individual chateaux, the evenings are also full of organised dinners. It’s going to be a busy week.

My morning kicked off at our Le Chai in Castillon where today we are racking and blending the 2010 Syrah de Folie ready for bottling in 10 days’ time. Once things were under way I left operations in the safe hands of cellar master Petit Denis and headed for Saint Emilion.

Twitter had been buzzing all morning with the news of wine journalists, winemakers and wine buyers arriving in Bordeaux for the week’s events. My plan is to start in the Saint Emilion satellites and then over the next four days make my way tasting through Fronsac, Lalande de Pomerol, Saint-Emilion itself, Pomerol, Castillon, Sauternes, Entre Deux Mers, Bordeaux, Pessac-Léognan, Graves and up into the Médoc for Margaux, Listrac, Moulis, Pauillac, St.Julien and St.Estèphe.

Today I started at the Salle des Dominicans in the heat of Saint-Emilion Village and tasted firstly through Montagne, Saint-Georges, Lussac and Puisseguin.

The wines were very variable with a real mixed bag of wine quality. In general Montagne was good but with a noticeable acidity, Saint-Georges seemed riper, Pusseguin perfumed but acidic and Lussac much softer tannins.

I moved onto Fronsac and the big names of Châteaux Fontenil (Michel Rolland), La Dauphine and Haut Carles were my favourite of the day; all rich and balanced. But a new discovery for me was Olivier Decelle’s Chateau Haut Ballet which was tasting lovely. Canon-Fronsac seemed less quality but I feel quite a few were let down by poor sample preparation, always a problem when showing wines so early in the ageing process.

The cold morning had developed into a warm and sunny day and the start of bud burst could be clearly seen in the vineyards. People better get them canes tied down quick! Buds are so easy to knock off bending the canes down to the fruiting wire. It’s an early bud burst and the forecast for more cold weather means we are not out of the woods yet. Fingers crossed for no last-minute frosts.

In the afternoon I tasted Lalande de Pomerol which was very good indeed, good concentration with supple palates. It was great to see Bertrand Massonie – our Grand Chai Lalande de Pomerol source – turning out a lovely Château Perron and top cuvee La Fleur.

Tomorrow I am heading to the Medoc to see how their 2011s have turned out.

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