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Pompoms and Stuck Records

Vast pompom chandelier and window in the tasting room at Angélus
As ever, I'd left the toughest till last. The Right Bank day is onerous both in terms of the quantity of samples one has to taste and the number of short journeys one has to undertake to get between the tastings and the châteaux who prefer to show their wines "at home".

My timing has been scarily spot-on this year and last. Both vintages have seen me arrive at arrive at the day's first meeting - a rendezvous in Pomerol: Eglise Clinet last week; Evangile this time last year - on the dot.

I cannot go into full details here, but the châteaux visits included Eglise Clinet, Avangile, Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Vieux Château Certan, Canon, Angélus and Figeac. Then one has to add the UGC official tastings, this year held at Petit Village in Pomerol and Clos Fourtet in St Emilion. And thereafter one has a number of decisions to make.

You see, there are just too many tasting here to contemplate in one day. I usually try to make it along to that of Thunevin, held in downtown St Emilion, and that of Stéphane Derononcourt at La Gaffelière called La Grappe. I had time for none of these this year...but ultimately, when 6pm came 'round and found me sitting beer in hand outside a St Emilion bar in the sunshine, I was content that I had tasted everything I'd really wanted to taste.

It's clear that the Right Bank had a slightly more complicated time of it during the 2014 growing season. It is equally clear that there are some absolutely super wines. There seems to be a developing trend towards placing more emphasis on Cabernet Franc in the blends here, something at least partially down to climate change as far as I could tell. And this is welcome. It adds class and focus to the locally dominant Merlot. Ausone is 60% Cab Franc in '14; Le Dome 80%; Cheval Blanc 45%. All are extremely fine.

Well, that was my Bordeaux trip this year and it was, as ever, a fascinating if rather grueling exercise. I suspect that for many smaller properties 2014 is a make-or-break vintage that could result in the sale of a plethora of smaller châteaux. It all depends on pricing...and in saying that I feel akin to a stuck record, yet a relevant stuck record for all that!

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