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Tungsten Filigree




I have completed day one. I must say that I am pretty much tuckered out. A late flight from Gatwick; a long wait at an Avis car hire desk; a belated bedside light snuffing out at gone midnight: all have contrived to make my current state one of physical depletion.

There's most likely a touch of mental depletion in there somewhere, too, as a day of wine evaluation - especially if they are infantile wines for which the thought of even short trousers is a distant imagining - is taxing in terms of its demands on one's powers of concentration.

The Medoc has been wreathed in damp, low cloud from first light. Constant, fine drizzle has been an unsatisfactory companion to the itinerant wine merchant dashing hither and yon along the Medoc's roads.

The working day started at Ducru Beaucaillou. Not a single member of staff in view. No pretty, skinny young girls in skin-tight jodhpurs and spray on tops, alas. All was not right. The wines, I am happy to report, were wearing the tightest of skin-tight jodhpurs and were barely sporting any sort of a top whatsoever.

Odd it was to start the day with quite such a fine and, may I venture, true expression of the vintage. I have waxed elsewhere about my devotion to wines that charm with their beauty, rather than impress with their gym-enhanced musculature. After a day of tasting 2014 Medocs, I can say that the best have all it takes to please me to bits.

Best of all, Montrose. And I must confess that Montrose, in its youth, is most often a stumbling block for my palate. I am not certain exactly why, but I find it hard properly to evaluate it. Not so today. Montrose epitomises all the best traits of 2014 (of which there are a considerable number).

The purity of its Cabernet component; the way it expresses that Cabernet like a gossamer golf club driving the green off the tee. This is self-assured wine that will beguile the taster. This is the strength of the ballerina, the introspective athlete.

Between Ducru and Montrose, I visited - and tasted at - Leovilles Lascases and Poyferre, Pontet Canet (another stunning lunch here), Sociando Mallet, Meyney (where one has the chance to taste the wines of Chateau de Rayne Vigneau, dry and sweet, La Tour de Mons and Grand Puy Ducasse amonst others, all now owned by Credit Agricole), Cos d'Estournel, Lafite and Mouton.

As ever, the curate's egg is close to one's thoughts. Whilst I am not sure that I have tasted a really bad wine today, some have been more obdurate, some downright disjointed: a reminder that evaluating any wine so soon after fermentation is, in all honesty, a rather silly thing.

I am back up the Medoc tomorrow. The primeurs tastings proper get underway and the new dawn will greet a day that will be yet busier and more wine filled than today has been.

And I do hope that, between now and then, I am granted a great deal of sleep. 
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