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Bordeaux: Day 3

Kirwan and the "frog stream"
It's been another day of tasting under blue bordelaise skies and warming sunshine. It was a civilised start this morning and even with something of a lie-in and a late departure I arrived half-an-hour early for my appointment at La Mission Haut Brion. Those who follow my Bordeaux annual blogging will remember that I have chanced my arm thus hitherto and so it was this morning. I was ushered into the solemnly grand tasting room without delay.

I confess that I sometimes struggle to get my head around this line-up, especially when presented first thing in the morning without a taste bud warm-up beforehand. These '16s, however, were a breeze. These are delicious liquids whichever way you look at it, the wines of La Mission being more elegant, whilst those of Haut Brion itself being more masculine, burlier: just larger in every department. The St Emilions - Quintus and its second wine Dragon de Quintus - were delicious, the latter having a slight scent of cumin, which I do not ever remember tasting in a wine before. The whites here are delicious, too, but crikey, what a price!

It was then on to Carbonnieux where the UGC tasting is being held this year. I let my satnav lead the way and got to see parts of Bordeaux I never dreamt existed before.

With this Pessac-Leognan marathon, I always now start with the reds. It gets the slog out of the way and then one can relax into the relatively easy dry white wines.

This year, however, both reds and whites were an easy taste. And one pairing stood head and shoulders above the rest, IMO. And you won't be surprised to hear that that pair was Domaine de Chevalier. The white so elegant, so secretive about its power and intent, and the red so very claretty and beautiful. Mmm.

I left there on a mission to knock off all the Sauternes, being shown yet again at La Lagune this year. But I was hungry, so bypassed Lagune and made for Kirwan, there to enjoy another dose of their hospitality. A half glass of '08 Kirwan from magnum rounded things off very nicely indeed.

The Sauternes are a lovely bunch in '16. There were wines of more or less botrytis, but the best had a bit of everything: sweetness, acidity, density, energy and yes, botrytis. One standout was Doisy Vedrines. It's not as big as its more celebrated neighbour Daene, but it has such a fine line and is loaded with class.

I am dining out tonight and am slightly hoping it's a more restrained affair than last evening. Dinner yesterday was at the splendid l'Univerre, where the wine list was fully exploited. 1964 Faustino 1 was a high point, but there were a number of other notables, including a natural, cloudy wine made from the grape Poulsard from the Jura. Food was very good too.

So, last day tomorrow. I taste hard on the Right Bank: lots of chateaux visits as well as numerous generic tastings. I cannot hope to do it all, but intend to taste anything I consider relevant. More news anon...

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