Saturday, 22 November 2008

Les Grand Vins et Les Grand Maisons - Bordeaux

You will need at least couple of days if you want to follow this wine route with an overnight stop off in Bordeaux to visit the CIVB which is highly recommended. We took the BAC ferry across the neck of the Gironde river from Royan to Verdon and after 30 minutes or so rather dull drive you will arrive in St Estephe and the vineyards will start to come into view. Cos d’Estournel is perhaps the most famous in this AOC being a Second Cru of the 1855 Classification.
Chateau Latour

Around Pauillac however you will find three of the Premier Grand Cru Classes these being: Chateaux Latour , Chateau Mouton Rothschild (see the tasting notes of the 2005 vintage in Feb 2007 further down this blog ) and Chateau Lafite-Rothschild...
Chateau Pichon Longueville (The Baron)

...along with the Second Crus of Chateau Pichon Longueville (The Baron) aquired in 2007 by AXA Millesimes and Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande.Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

We were particulary interested to see this chateau as the owners daughter is married to one of our local wine making friends in the Anjou appellation at Domaine de Salvert. The estate has recently been sold to the Roederer Champagne Family though and May Eliane de Lencquesaing has emigrated to a beautiful wine estate in South Africa. A bottle of the 2005 Pichon Longueville we have hidden in the depths of our cellars.
A glimpse of a section of the wine cellars at La Grande Maison.

Next AOC up is St Julien with the Seconds Crus properties of :Leoville Barton
Leoville Barton 1997
and Ducru Beaucaillou
Ducru Beaucaillou 2004

If you still have enough energy you could look for Chateaux Margaux (you will then have four of the five Premier Crus ticked off your list!)

CIVB Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin du Bordeaux

Instead we headed into Bordeaux to the CIVB where you have an opportunity to taste a delicious selection of wines with tasting plates of cheeses and charcuterie. We enjoyed 2002 Pontet Canet Rouge and 2004 Vieux Chateau Gaubert Blanc Graves.
Domaine de Grandmaison 2004

One of my favourite Bordeaux reds has always been from the Pessac Leognan region but I never really understood why. A visit to the area and suddenly it all fell into place. Some of the Graves we had tried were 100% Merlot and some of the Bordeaux wines blended with more like 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. It seemed the Pessac’s are more 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot or 50/50. Surprisingly one of the youngest apellations in France this is also where you will find the fifth of the Premier Crus - Chateau Haut Brion - the only vineyard I’ve ever seen in a city suburb (apart from the one on Montmartre Paris). It is with this wine that Samuel Pepys broke his vow to give up drinking in 1663 when he described it as “a sort of French wine, called Ho Bryan”. We are always vowing to give up drinking too.

Les Source de Caudalie

After Pessac what follows is a rather unexciting drive to Leognan but stick with it as once you get beyond Leognan it will all become apparent why you are there. We took the chance to visit the luxurious Caudalie Spa and Hotel which is opposite ....Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte and in front of a roaring fire drank our first glasses of 2004 Smith Haut Lafitte rouge et blanc - all I have time to say here now is sublime!
An exceptional combination of favourable elements make up this terroir. The subsoil is composed of clay and sand so well drained, the sandstone being hardened by a blackish, ferruginous cement. Further on into Graves the combination of gravel deposits, stones and pebbles which include quatrz, agate and flint. The land has been shaped by the movement of the rivers course over many millions of years.

Story To Follow : Further on into Graves and Sauternes to Chateau d'Yquem, the Premieur Cru Superieur of them all.

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