Monthly Archives: September 2010

Bordeaux joins the dance

Opened on the 8th September, Bordeaux now has its very own branch of the cult Parisien ballet shop Repetto. It’s not just about ballet though, shoes (in which you can dance the night away) and bags that fit every occasion are on display in the shop that feels more like a ballet studio. With the most beautiful ‘tutus’ in the window as well as a fabulous collection of the famous BB pumps in every imaginable colour, this is more proof (if you needed it) that Bordeaux is a great shopping city and more and more like a mini Paris.

Jean-Luc Rocha at Cordeillan Bages

I finally sampled the cuisine of the new chef at Château Cordeillan-Bages

33-year-old Jean-Luc ROCHA, is in fact hardly new as he has been executive chef at Cordeillan with Thierry Marx since 2005. He has skilfully maintained the modern and inventive style of cuisine that Cordeillan has become known for but with a welcome breath of fresh air.
Jean-Luc obtained Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 2007 and this skill along with an obvious pleasure of sharing his passion with the customers bodes well for the next stage in the life of this Relais and Château.

I’ll be back

A dinner amongst old friends?

Curious as to how Château Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion stand the test of time? Now’s your chance to find out; The Hotel Beau Rivage in Geneva is holding a comparative tasting of the 1990, 1982, 1978, 1947, 1929 vintages with palate refreshers of William Deutz Rosé 2000 on 4th December .
Dinner will take you to other vineyards, including la Romanée, Batard Montrachet B. Morey, Château Palmer and Château Caillou (1947 no less)
Bon appetite !

Dinner on the waterfront with Haut Brion

Le Chai au Quai

An enormous, more or less abandoned, old cellar (or Chai) on the banks of the Dordogne has finally been brought fully back to life thanks to a British wine Merchant.
Tony Laithwaite, better known for his British direct mail company, has always had a sentimental feeling towards the Côtes de Castillon since he worked here, in this very cellar, as a young man starting out his career in the wine industry.
He is so attached to the Côtes de Bordeaux-Castillon appellation, often overshadowed by its prestigious neighbour Saint Emilion, that he purchased Château la Clariere in Sainte Colombe in 1980.

Laithwaites have created a range of wines under the name of ‘Le Grand Chai’ selected from 11 different appellations across Bordeaux and aged here in the beautifully restored waterfront cellars in Castillon. This is just the beginning of wines to be blended and aged here from Bordeaux and from further afield.

Want to know more? The cellar is open for visits and tastings
call them on +33 5 57 40 13 31

Three approaches to dry white wine production

Three visits in Pessac Leognan and Sauternes today to see the beginning of the dry white
The grapes arrive in the cellars of Château La Mission Haut Brion in a refrigerated truck.

Using dry ice to protect the crop during pressing at Château Guiraud for Le G de Guiraud

A little help picking the grapes at Château Sigalas Rabaud for the second vintage of the La Demoiselle de Sigalas dry white.

And we’re off!

The lovely misty morning here remind us that it’s that time of year again – just in case you has forgotten! Mist as of mid to late August is of course just what is needed in the south west of Bordeaux for the sweet white wines but it is also a good sign for the red. This means cooler nights helping to preserve the aromatic complexity of the red and white and phenolic complexity in the red berries.

White grape harvesting has started across Bordeaux. Château Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion are always some of the first to start, as being surrounded by Bordeaux suburbs they have a warmer urban microclimate.
Other properties started last week. Château d’Yquem started the first selection of Sauvignon Blanc for Y d’Yquem and nearer to me here in the Entre Deux Mers Château de Sours started handpicking their young Sauvignon plantations on the 1st September.
Despite a damp June, the growing season has been very dry with rainfall about 20% below an average year, however temperatures and sunshine have been above average. There is an excess of water stress for younger plants that do not have a well-developed root system yet. It’s all about terroir again : soils with cooler limestone subsoils such as Saint Emilion, Fronsac and Cotes will experience less hydric stress than clay, sandy or gravel soils. However lighter soils with a good subsoil, such as in the Medoc, have vines with deep roots which will enable them to find water from the subsoils even dry conditions.

May and June also had a lot of temperature variation leading to some uneven fruit development – so that will mean eagle eyed sorting (or optical sorting for those with the budgets).

The dry conditions also have another advantage : lovely ripe berries – very little mildew, so no need for much spraying and the grapes should be coming in beautifully healthy.

A little light rain would not go amiss for the reds in particular – it’s forecast for Tuesday – fingers crossed.

Tea for.…hundreds!

Not only wine was being drunk this weekend in the vineyards. Hostess with the ‘mostess’ Marilyn Clegg opened up the doors of her Maison La Cayrol at the heart of the hilltop village of Pujols to raise money for the Franco British school exchange between the two villages were she shares her life Pujols and Crondall in Hampshire;
Tables groaning with scones, tiny sandwiches and homemade cakes were devoured by brits and French alike. Oh and there was Pimms too !