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Third Day of Nose to the Bordeaux Grindstone


Above - I've always thought that Chateau Olivier looks like it must be one of the oldest in Bordeaux.

Well, today's been quite an undertaking. No great hurry first thing. Whatever I did, my last appointment was to be 17h30 at Haut-Brion and the Pessac-Leognan tastingthat required attention beforehand never takes up more than two or three hours of ones time. Yet I suddenly felt the urge to be tasting something, so I headed out with the aim of finding one of the smaller tastings for which I've been seeing signs.

And I didn't pick very well. I turned in at a tasting that called itself something like Medoc Artisans and it transpires that the word artisan in French means something quite different to the same word as we know it in English. It turns out that the French word translates as "blundering ignoramus", possibly with an additional sense of not knowing one end of a grape from the other. Why do I put myself through this stuff??

I wanted to visit the Cru Bourgeois tasting at Chateau d'Agassac and boy, what a scrum. I put petal to the medal and tasted 40+ wines in under an hour. Stand outs here were a surprisingly un-agricultural Cissac and a wonderful St Estephe of which I hvae little previous experience: Chateau de Haye.

South like a migrant bird I headed. I had tasted 60 wines and required refuelling before pressing on with the Pessac-Leognan wines, red and white. And very good lunch was too, and with the skies spitting moisture I headed into the fray.

The Pessac-Leognan tasting is something of a marathon, each chateau showing a red and a white (with a few exceptions: Haut Bailly and Carmes Haut Brion only make red wine). And I have long since decided that it is far better to taste the reds first. Whites are a far easier prospect once one has become thoroughly jaded with the task in hand.

Lots of good stuff here. Chateau de Fieuzal has been ramping up the quality in recent vintages and both colours were extremely fine. Domaine de Chevaliers also showed well, as did Smith Haur Lafiite. And a big shout out for the white Malartic Lagraviere. What a beautiful glass of wine!

Despire my delaying tactics, I was looking down the barrel of a two hour wait for Haut Brion, but thought I would chance it anyway. I was, after all, on my own and thought it would be rather mean if tghey couldn't find room for a small party of one.

Mean they were not and I soon found myself in front of all the relevant samples, including the second vintage of the St Emilion now being made by the Haut Brion team: Quintus, formerly Tertre d'Augay. It's a very fine wine, but holy smokes, what a price they're charging.

I preferred Haut Brion red and La Mission white at this stage. And i do very much hope that I'll get to find out which I prefer when they're mature. These are very fine wines, but they are big: Haut Brion wades in at 14.9% alcohol. I guess that's become the norm in these climatically changed days,,,
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