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The Ducru-Beaucaillou colour of choice for most if not all its marketing material is orange, but I still had something of a shock when visiting the loo at the property
I have now arrived back at my hotel room in Blanquefort, just to the south of the Medoc. I have flung open the double doors onto the small balcony, even though they let in the rush hour traffic noise. The room was redecorated 10 days ago and the smell of new paint is still pervading my sleeping and working space.
The day has been cloudless and warm: the car has suggested 23 degrees Centigrade. It has thus been a fine opportunity to take photographs and some video clips, all of which I will share with you at some stage.
The day started quite early; I was on the road to St Estephe just after sunrise. My destination was Montrose, which I followed up with Cos d'Estournel, Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Pontet-Canet, then fitting in Meyney (for a four-wine tasting) and Sociando-Mallet before I grabbed a sandwich from the bakery by the railway line in Pauillac and took it and a can of Orangina down to the river frontage in town.
This afternoon I have been to chateaux Ducru-Beaucaillou, Palmer, Margaux and Issan. The Bordelais have been welcoming and keen to talk about their vintage and no wonder, it is actually rather good. I am not, however, sure that this will help the wines to sell. I wonder whether a sixty percent drop in price would be sufficient motivation for the consumer to start thinking about loosening the press-stud on his/her wallet/purse.
What have we got? The vintage was precocious in its early phase, leading to very early bud-break. There were a pair of days in late June that attained over forty degrees C, rendering some of the embryonic fruit grilled and requiring removal. Thereafter, things changed radically or, if you prefer, normalised. Having been three weeks in advance, the maturation was then slowed by dryness and a July and August of very mixed weather, including some very cool periods.
Whatever the weather, it is always important to taste the wines. And what I have found thus far are a great many cool, controlled, fresh and pretty wines showing lifted, floral aromatics and, by-and-large, ripe, attractive and fresh tannins. They are mineral, feminine and juicy. I have liked quite a number of them. Whether that counts for anything, only time will tell. If there's anyone out there who is even remotely considering buying the 2011 Bordeaux vintage, I would love to hear from you.