Monthly Archives: July 2010

Small but beautifully formed.

What is the smallest first growth in the 1855 classification?
You all said Haut Brion didn’t you? but no – think out of the box and remember Sauternes and Barsac…Château Sigalas Rabaud at just 14ha is the smallest 1st growth.
Secret shared by Laure de Lambert whilst tasting her delicious 2003 this afternoon and just before she delivers her first dry white wine from the property.
“La Demoiselle de Sigalas” will be available for sale from Ets Martin in Saint Emilion as of this weekend – Highly recommended.

Ripening Sigalas Rabaud grapes on the Gunzian gravel.

The 2009 effect filters through.

Although the prices of the top 5% of Bordeaux wines have left us gasping for breath, the quality of the vintage is not restricted to the top properties. Visiting Margaux today I called in to Château La Tour de Bessan from the Marie-Laure Lurton stable.
Marie Laure earned a well deserved 91-94/100 from the Wine Spectator for this vintage that is a steal at about €15 TTC – too late it’s all gone !
The architecture of La Tour de Bessan is quite remarkable, its stunning modernity a sign of Marie-Laure’s forward thinking not just in wine making but also marketing. Marie laure has just recruited Emilie Van Maele (who has a Masters in Business Tourism), to develop the hospitality at her 3 properties in particular for the hiring of our new reception rooms at the Château de Villegeorge. The properties are open for visits throughout August, she can organise original tastings and blending workshops to better understand how Bordeaux wine making works.
If you are flying home with hand luggage only you can also buy her wines in 100cl ‘WIT’ (wine in tube) a coffret of her 3 Cru Bourgeois wines (La Tour de Bessan in Margaux, Villegeorge, in Haut Medoc and Château Duplessis in Moulis) will set you back less than €20.

The barrel cellar at Château La Tour de Bessan

A Swiss secret

Want to discover Swiss wine but can’t be bothered to traipse around the hillsides of the Valais?
Head up to the Swiss Jura to a hidden valley in the Ajoie and stop off at the Château de Pleujouse. Catherine and Gérard Praud will welcome you to this renovated 11th century château high on the hillside over looking the valley where the famous Damasine plums are grown for the local eaux de vie.
Enjoy their innovative cuisine from a succinct daily menu using only fresh local produce prepared with exotic spices. The menu is the perfect foil for a comprehensive wine list of mainly Swiss and some international (for the less adventurous) wines. The view from the restaurant is breathtaking and a discreet gift of unusual spices at the end of the meal will allow you to experiment at home. Before leaving finish your meal with the Damasine local eaux de vie made from the rare- plums brought back, or so tradition has it, from Damascus during the crusades.

High on a hill in the Jura : Château de Pleujouse

Cru Bourgeois – Diversity and value

In all the fury about the 2009 pricing it’s easy to forget that only about 300 properties are involved out of over 10 000 that make up Bordeaux. Fact underlined in the middle of it all at two very different  in the Medoc both of which offer excellent value for money wines – even in 2009!
First a wonderful dinner at Château Phelan Segur. The château opened its doors for a small group of us on the Arblaster and Clarke ‘primeur week’. This beautiful Saint Estephe property on the banks of the Estuary is also a family home and the sense of family is indeed strong. Owned by the Gardinier family the property is managed by Thierry Gardinier who has been the moving force behind the renovation of the Cru Bourgeois.

A second visit to Cru Bourgeois, Château Reverdi in Listrac was a completely different experience. With a group of Chinese wine enthusiasts Reverdi allowed us to really experience one of the keys signatures of Bordeaux – the blend. After tasting barrel samples of the 2009 in Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot everyone made there own 2009 Reverdi and took home their own signed sample. Tasting the final blend from the 2004 showed us that we still had a little way to go and just what a skill the Bordeaux blend is.
The Cru Bourgeois represent about 40% of the Medoc production and the results of the 2008 ‘classification’ will be announced in September. Some properties have already received confirmation of their acceptance some seem to be still on the fence as to whether to apply. Watch this space. (see my post on 1st December 2009)

Blending at Château Reverdi

Another Saturday night in Bordeaux!

Back in history last night with a wonderful comparison between a Mouton and a Lafite 1970.
These next-door neighbours clearly showed the differences terroir can make. The Mouton was still lively, complex and balanced with a lot to say for itself despite its age and somewhat over shadowed the Lafite. Both wines showed the classic Pauillac cedar notes and elegant balance but the Lafite was the lighter of the pair and although still an elegant wine with a complex nose it was showing it’s respectable age a little more. A few days ago I tasted the 1995 in the cellars of the property and the Lafite signature is clearly present in both bottles.
The star of the evening however was the Guiraud 1942. A rare treat, this second world war wine was still fresh and full of caramel and an amazing illustration that these great Sauternes wines can outlast their big red brothers from the Medoc. Can you see it was bottled in green class due to bottle shortages during the war?