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Day One with the '09 Vintage in Bordeaux



Lamprey huts on the banks of the Gironde near Pauillac





The sun has been bounding around the Medoc today. only occasionally interrupted by high and delightfully sculptural cloud formations.

I flew into Bergerac last afternoon having cancelled my BA flight to Bordeaux, not knowing whether one of our domestic carrier's 'planes would have ever taken off nor, of course, brought me back again at the end of my tasting week.

Bergerac airport is a shed. The building works have been ongoing since my last visit and arrivals is a basic prefab structure, roughly wood-lined and ramshackle. Plenty of bags were brought off the 'plane almost immediately - roughly half, I'd say - before those charged with the job decided to go off and load another aircraft. Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to 'phone the car hire firm, as the solitary member of staff there was just locking up when I placed the call, believing that the four remaining bookings had missed the flight. Some 45 minutes later, I finally picked up a diesel Golf and boy, it's a good car: very quiet and brilliantly bolted together. Drives exceptionally well, too.

It's possible that we dined over-well last evening. My sleep was disturbed, either by the process of digestion or, in the early hours of this morning, by cars barrelling down the road outside. Alas, my room is at the front of the hotel and I hvae forgotten my earplugs.

We pushed off soon after breakfast this morning and made it to Latour in good time. Lafite followed; Cos, then Mouton; an aborted visit to Calon, then Ducru, Margaux and Lascases, with a few minor clarets between, as well as a pleasant but windy pause for lunch beside a Gironde that was powering past and on to the Atlantic Ocean, decorated with boats burning maximum fuel to make any sort of headway upriver.

What can I tell you about the wines, you are no doubt wondering. Are the rumours correct? Is 2009 better than 2005?

I will have a clearer picture later on this week when I have tasted more widely. What we've seen today is an array of dazzling liquids; not stern, structured and serious wines like the '05s, rather wines with huge, ripe and riveting tannins swathed in rather gorgeous, come hither sort of fruit. There's real density here, density and charm. I found length that stays with you as you say goodbye to whoever is hosting your visit, climb into the car and drive down the road.

Debating the stars of the day whilst returning to the hotel, I put forward Latour, Lafite, Mouton and Margaux (sounds like a bit of a cop-out, now I look at it). And this is, indeed, a vintage in which the wines taste like their labels. Latour is the essense of Latour-ness, Cos is quintissentially Cos-like, Mouton is magesterially Mouton-esque, Lafite a model of what Lafite should be about and Margaux, ah Margaux. Beguiling, complex already, subtle, elegant and quite simply stunningly beautiful. Longer than the bible and about as inspirational. A favourite, you ask? I know that no one would hold me in contempt if I were to say yes!

So, off to La Tupina for a meat feast this evening and more hard graft tomorrow. Personally, I cannot wait!
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