It is always a pleasure to be back in Bordeaux – especially at harvest time.
Our small group tour has commenced, the harvest is being picked, the weather is glorious and the city of Bordeaux is looking splendid. We kicked off with an excellent dinner at the renowned institution – La Brasserie Bordelaise. Foie Gras, delicious gravadlax, confit de canard, fromages and delicious desserts – a perfect start to our tour.
Our first full day took us the hallowed vineyards of the Left Bank. To the northwest of the city, this is where you find the iconic Chateaux of Lafite, Latour, Margaux, Mouton-Rothschild and host of other top names. Our first stop in Saint Julien was the wonderful 4th Growth – Chateau Beychevelle. Simply oozing history, it is now part owned by Suntory and they have made a significant investment in the winery and cellars. We were hosted by Pauline who brought the estate to life with some great details and guided us into the winery itself. Tractors were arriving – brimming with boxes of freshly picked grapes which we duly gorged ourselves on before witnessing their journey through the sorting table and optical selector which is very high tech kit to ensure only the best berries make the cut. We also saw at first hand some pumping over and vats of grapes at the very beginning of their journey to greatness.
A blind tasting followed which focussed the mind somewhat. With only limited information to work with, we had to assess the year and whether it was the Grand Vin. Superb wines with a great contrast between years which reflected just how good 2009 was.
From Beychevelle it was a 40 minute ride to lunch at Chateau d’Agassac – a Cru Bourgeois estate in the most picturesque of castle and moat setting. We enjoyed a very elegant lunch of pumpkin risotto, a spicy turkey creation and a carrot cake dessert.
With no time for a power nap, a five minute drive took us to the 5th Growth Chateau Dauzac in the commune of Margaux. This was another estate with a lot of history and yet packed with innovation. The Bordeaux mixture (lime and copper sulphate) was invented here as a defence against mildew. In the winery we witnessed another first. Built into the side of the large wooden fermentation vats were glass panels that enabled a clear view of the effect of carbon dioxide as it pushed the mass of crushed grapes up to the top of the vat. This was wonderfully educative as one visual moment was worth many hundreds of words. Cecile was a delightful host who then took us through a chocolate and wine pairing combining three different wines with Cuban, Indonesian and Costa Rican dark chocolate.