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It was an early start. The Médoc's a big place and I had arranged to start away in the north and steadily work my way southward over the course of the day. First stop: Château Calon-Ségur on the outskirts of the village of St Estèphe itself. A quick taste at Calon and it was back in the car for the 5 minute drive south to Montrose. After Montrose, Cos d'Estournel, Lafite, Mouton in quick succession.
I am getting into my stride and feel that I am tasting pretty well. And I am pleasantly surprised. Whilst I hadn't been expecting a complete disaster (modern wine making has the power to iron out all but the most canyon-like creases), I hadn't been looking to find such pretty fruit and, in some cases, really decent concentration.
Don't get me wrong. This isn't a Bordeaux vintage that will go down in the history books with five stars appended. Neither, I suspect, will it be a cheap vintage. I would suggest that the era of good value classed growth claret is as passé as the Great Auk. However, I tasted on my first day, wines that I would be more than happy to drink in the years to come, none more so than those of Durcu, where I sampled a rather lovely range.
One rather curious twist to the day occurred in the early p.m. when I took a call on my mobile from my mother. Knowing that they had set off of a mystery cruise from Southampton a couple of days before, my first thought when I heard mum's voice was that some disaster had occurred. However, mum was 'phoning to say that they were currently steaming up the Gironde and was there any chance of having dinner.
I asked exactly where they were at that moment and was told, "The Captain informed us that we were passing Château Margaux four minutes ago". Hang on. I'd just passed Château Margaux, albeit in the rather drier environment of the Médoc road that gets so much used by the world's wine trade at this time of year. I scanned the horizon. "Does your boat have a large yellow funnel?" I asked. Mother replied in the affirmative. "Then I can see you". And see them I could, for above the trees, moving sedately on its way, I could make out the upturned yellow bucket of the funnel of the Saga Ruby.
Later on, I climbed up the gangway of that boat and enjoyed an impromptu dinner on board. It was an unexpected and welcome end to a fascinating day.