Monthly Archives: December 2009

Christmas shopping Château style

You already know how the Châteaux in Bordeaux are keen to open their doors to visitors but how about Château Christmas shopping?
Many Chateaux have boutiques selling a lot more than just their wines : the perfect opportunity to buy gifts for fellow oenophiles and do some tasting on route.
Pessac Legman is near Bordeaux city centre and Château Haut Bailly has taken the initiative of teaming up with local (and France’s largest) independent Editor and book shop Mollat to offer a range of food and wine books as well as the Haut Bailly range of wines and other gifts including customised Reidel glassware. They open right up until 24th December from 10am ‘til 6pm for all you last minute shoppers.

The Christmas shop at Château Haut Bailly in Pessac Leognan

Life from Stone

I’m always a sucker for a good wine label or an intriguing name which is what led me to try the most delicious Sauvignon blanc last night – ‘Life from Stone’ from The Springfield Estate in South Africa – so the name gives the game away as far as the minerality is concerned but it was a wonderfully fresh citrus and green Sauvignon – down to limestone terroir and night harvesting apparently.
I have since learnt that I didn’t have to travel half way around the world to taste it, Bibendum stocks it at less than £10 a bottle along with other wines from the estate one of which has the equally intriguing name of ‘The Work of Time’.

2009 on the Right Bank

Just in case you hadn’t heard that the 2009 vintage is going to be great – I’ll repeat it again, but this time in the words of the right bank or rather the Libournais.

The Saint Emilion, Pomerol and Fronsac appellations are now working together (yes different appellations do work together in Bordeaux!) to present the new vintage.

The fermentations have now finished and tasting of the vintage as it is ‘entonné’ or run off into the barrels for ageing confirms what the winemakers were hoping for: an extremely promising vintage.

After the cold winter and then early flowering, a very hot summer (30 days over 30°C) led to homogenous ripening and the hydric stress giving good phenolic concentration in the skins. The contrast between night and day temperatures was up to 15°C, one of the keys to the characteristic elegance one expects from good Bordeaux vintages.
The climate also allowed for a perfectly healthy crop, a breath of fresh air after the last couple of vintages, allowing the growers to wait relatively serenely for harvesting which started on 20th September and finished late October
A thought please to those poor properties so badly hit by the hail in the Spring that they have hardly any wine to run into barrels – very galling in such a promising vintage.

Les Medocaines in WIT

Les Medocaines; Martine Cazeneuve (Château Paloumey), Marie-Laure Lurton (Château La Tour de Bessan), Armelle Falcy Cruse (Château du Taillan) and Florence Lafragette (Château Loudenne) have always been one step ahead with their idea of 4 different châteaux, all run by women, working together to promote not only their wines but wine tourism. They have created joint wine tastings, workshops and food and wine programmes that take enthusiasts from one property to another discovering everything from pruning to blending to food and wine matching with local specialties.
Once Again they have innovated but this time in packaging and selling their wines. Already available as a mixed case the wines are now presented as ‘WIT’. Wine in a tube. The test tube of wine, containing just enough for a generous glass is sealed with a screw cap to prevent oxidation. The gift set of the 4 wines is a perfect stocking filler.

Bourgeois is back

Since 2001 The Alliance des Crus Bourgeois of the Medoc have been applying themselves to getting the Cru Bourgeois back in working order and it looks as if they have almost made it.
President of the Alliance, Thierry Gardinier, announced yesterday the launch of the new quality charter, formalised by government decree on 16th November, which will come into effect with the bottling of the 2008 vintage in 2010.
The new system will certify a specific wine in any given vintage as a Cru Bourgeois, as opposed to classifying the property, and this for wines having successfully passed an independent tasting and for a limited and clearly defined volume of production.
The tasting process will be organized by ‘vertias’ an independent professional certification organization whose remit goes from Airbus to lifts!
The responsability lies with the producers to apply for the Cru Bourgeois label every year, this year the closing date is 8th December. So far about 300 properties are expected to bring forward samples for tasting between February and July next year. The Crus Bourgeois represent about 40% of the total production of the Medoc.