It’s all about the fruit…



Monday was an interesting day in Bordeaux. There were ups and there were downs but fortunately for us the sun shone throughout to lighten our spirits.

We headed to St Estephe, full of anticipation at the potential quality of the wines which lay ahead following last night’s positive tasting. With hindsight, St Estephe was not the easiest commune to start with at 9.15am. Fruit ripeness had evidently been difficult to achieve and the wines were austere to put it mildly.  At Cos we were shown around the full splendour of the brand new, all-singing-all-dancing superstructure that is their barrel cellar (as seen in ‘Wine: The Firm’). An incredible achievement but the glass bridge and stainless steel staircase felt just a little soulless. Somewhat deflated, we drew up to Pontet Canet and walked up to the characterful tasting room with the most fabulous views over the vineyards of Pauillac. As we tasted the wine there was a palpable sigh of relief – at last some fruit! And decent fruit too. Attractive and appealing with more weight and ‘bones’, which renewed our hopes for 2008.

On then to Lafite and Mouton before lunch. Of the two, the Mouton won the day for its gravitas, concentration and general star quality. D’Armailhac and Clerc Milon were pretty good too – things were looking up.
The two Pichons were impressive that afternoon but it was the Haut-Bages-Liberal that stole the show (see picture above). Crunchy red and black fruits and a fantastic chocolaty complexity made this our buy of the day so far. At this price level, 2008 could mean some seriously top quality but inexpensive wines. This was a real contender for a top ten value wine of the vintage – and it was only day one! Suddenly things were looking up – and the sun was still shining.

Final stop of the day: tasting at Lynch Bages (Villa Bel Air, Ormes de Pez, Echo and Lynch – see picture above) followed by a beer and dinner with Jean-Charles Cazes.
With wonderful wines and such pleasant company it was easy to slip back into positive thoughts about the ‘08s. So far this seems to be a year that worked well for those who did incredibly rigorous selections in the vineyard; a year where there will be surprises and disappointments, possibly where least expected. For now we will keep our minds open and keep on going. Time for the next appointment.

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