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Bordeaux Arrival; First Tastings

The little Dash 8 jolly-plane that had conveyed us from Southampton airport dropped through lumpen, bumpy clouds into Bergerac a little before 5pm yesterday. By the time we had picked up the hire car and driven to St Emilion it had started to rain in earnest.

There are many more tastings this year than hitherto; far too many, in fact, for one person to get through in a week. But an inviatation to Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere was too tempting an invitation to refuse, especially as the drive to our hotel was to take us within a few hundred yards of the chateau's door.

Once inside, we had the opportunity to taste most of the Niepperg wines: Aiguilhe, Clos de l'Oratoire, Canon La Gaff itself and La Mondotte, as well as the red and white of Domaine de Chevalier, plus the dry and sweet wines of Chateau Guiraud as well as one or two others.

Initial impressions? Well, I quickly realised that the tastings we have in store for us this week will require a great deal of concentration. The wines are exceedingly young, younger seeming than usual, even. And the reds are very tannic. Yet what we tasted last evening were rich wines of great length and freshness.

In another room, the count was offering some light (but distinctly delicious) food, as well as a few older vintages. Conscious we were to eat after checking in to our hotel, we merely grazed whilst we tasted/drank 2001 Domaine de Chevalier, 2000 Canon La Gaffeliere and 1997 La Mondotte, the first elegant and subtle, the second fresh and beautifully ready and the La Mondotte, from a double magnum, was corked. But once they had removed it and opened another it turned out to be mightily impressive: concentrated, complex and very delicious.

We hopped back into the hire car and were soon checked into our hotel in Blanquefort at the southern end of the Medoc. A short walk, indeed, was all it took for us to install ourselves in the Brasserie du Medoc. We ate well and drank some pretty basic, but welcome, Bordeaux wine.

One has the impression that the crowds are gathering, as if this week is going to be a very busy one. More's the pity that I've woken at 04h15 local time and cannot get back to sleep. At leat I have found time to scribble my first blog from Bordeaux!
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