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Petrus, Pine, a White Horse and Much Else Besides


My tasting at Evangile this morning






Weather apart (rolling and heavy showers have been waterlogging the soils of St Emilion and Pomerol for most of the day) today has proved a rather easier tasting session.

I left early for my first appointment at Vieux Chateau Certan fearing the morning traffic, so arrived in the vineyards of Pomerol rather too early. Chateau l'Evangile neighbours VCC and I thought I'd turn up on spec and see what sort of a reception they'd offer me. A good one, as it turned out. I was their first taster of the day. Both Blason (the second wine) and Evangile itself were superb: rich, firm, deep and impressive.

VCC, as noted, is a short hop, so tasting over at Evangile I shortly hopped and found a 2009 Vieux Chateau Certan that couldn't be more different to the wine of the property from where I had just come, but was just as good. I often find VCC to be almost burgundian (no wonder I like it so!) and this vintage has that wonderful suppleness. No blockbuster this, just beautiful Pomerol.

I headed into St Emilion and up the scary-narrow street that rises rapidly onto the edge of the St Emilion plateau and to one of the chateaux to be found there: Ausone. Owner Alain Vauthier now offers a string of St Emilions: Fonbel, Simards, Haut Simards, Moulin St Georges and the two Ausone wines: Chapelle (the second wine) and Ausone itself.

Vauthier is a genius. The wines are compelling, rising to an utterly mind blowing Ausone. In addition, Chapelle is about the best second wine I have tasted this visit. If taste buds are capable of reeling, mine were doing the Dashing White Sergeant as I stepped back out into a brief moment of sunshine.

The UGC St Emilion tasting was a mess. Some brilliant high points - a superb Troplong and fabulous wines from Figeac, Larcis Ducasse, Canon spring immediately to mind - were mere punctuations in a pretty dull range. Tannins, yes, but flat fruit, over-ripe and boring. Oh dear.

So I went off hoping to be cheered up by a tasting of the wines of Luc Thunevin and it worked...at least partially, anyway. I got to taste Valandraud (very good, but how much?!?) and, slightly bizarrely, a range of Meursaults from Buisson-Charles from whom we now buy every vintage. I cannot express quite how pleasurable it is to have a top-notch glass of white burgundy in the middle of a sampling session of young red Bordeaux!

I moved on to the UGC Pomerol tasting, a small event with a handful of wines; this handily meant that their dining room was much quieter than that at Beau-Sejour-Becot where I'd been tasting the St Ems. Some good wines here. Conseillante is fabulous. Nice lunch.

One bit of good news: I had managed to secure an invitation to taste the wine at Petrus. In fact, my last three tastings of the day were Petrus, Cheval Blanc and Le Pin, with a quick stop for a taster of 2005 Vieux Chateau Certan in between.

These big guns are all as good as one would expect in such a vintage. Cheval contains more Merlot than usual, its second wine - Petit Cheval - more Cabernet Franc. Both top of the tree.

I have never tasted Petrus en primeur before. Amazing wine. I really cannot do these justice in a few words.

Le Pin is simply very deeply sexy. A Richebourg of a Pomerol. Perhaps foolishly, I took a sip from my glass, wrote and note and poured the rest of my sample back into the barrel. Hey, I thought Jacques Thienpont would appreciate it, having so little of the stuff to commercialise (five to six thousand bottles is about it). I suspect the thoughts of that second surrendered mouthful will haunt me for a while.

So that's about it. I see Jonathan Malthus in St Emilion tomorrow morning to taste Le Dome and its brethren. Then it's Bergerac airport and home. I am looking forward to giving my teeth a break from tannin and acidity. They will be thankful in their own pearly way, I am sure.
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