Browse Wines

Day Two - A Crash, A Slog and Some Reward

A train leaves Glasgow heading for London. The first three carriages are packed with a cargo of freshly sawn wood destined for the furniture makers of the English capital. In the fourth carriage is a family of blackcurrants, perhaps journeying home after a short cultural break north of the border.

Unfortunately for all concerned - and possibly due to a misunderstanding relating to points - somewhere in the Midlands the train collides head on with another that is travelling in the opposite direction, an incident made doubly unfortunate by the fact that my taste buds are somewhere near the front of the northbound carriages. This, in some way, goes to describe the experience of the Margaux tasting I attended earlier today.

The pain! The galloping tannins! The largely unrewarded search for adequate fruit! Perhaps I found three wines that will make pleasurable drinking in the years to come.

I broke for lunch. Lest you think me shirking in my duties I had, earlier in the morning, headed to the south of Bordeaux to taste the red Pessac-Léognans. The pain! The gallopi…You get the picture.

Tomorrow I will taste the dry whites. I did it this way 'round as I count myself among the (I suspect) majority who prefer receiving the bad news first. Reports are that the dry whites in '07 are a resounding success (and if the quality of the Pavillon Blanc de Château Margaux is anything to go by, the reports are accurate).

After lunch, I donned some protective clothing and went back to taste again some of the Margaux wines from which I had been expecting better things. Why oh why oh why.

I headed north to Château Pontet-Canet which abuts Mouton-Rothschild in the north of the Pauillac appellation. I had a moment of revelation. I tasted a string of really rather good St Juliens and it seemed to me that the sun came out from behind a cloud. Beychevelle, Branaire, Gruaud, Langoa, Léoville-Barton, St Pierre, Poyferré; not a clanger among them.

Pauillacs: less consistent. But a good showing from Lynch-Bages and Pichon-Baron. Even Croizet-Bages was a rather pretty mouthful and it's not every vintage one can say that.

St Estèphes: thoroughly decent. A small skip enters my every step.

I head off for a tasting at Grand-Puy-Lacoste, where I enjoy Haut-Batailley, despite some rather grainy tannins. GPL itself is class-in-a-glass: pure; mineral, and rather beautiful.

I continue jauntily on to Château Latour. The Pauillac de Château Latour is delightful and will make sumptuous drinking. The Forts de Latour is also highly impressive; more of everything, of course, and a great deal more age worthy. Latour itself? Delicious. Another beautiful wine. But not streets ahead of the Forts. Just 'round the corner and up the road a bit.

Flagging now, I allowed myself a quick spin through the tasting at Pichon-Lalande, so close to Latour that I could easily have walked the distance. Champagne Roederer now owns Pichon-Lalande and so the range of samples that one tastes these days has been somewhat extended. I slooshed my way through Bernadotte, Haut-Beauséjour, de Pez (these last two St Estèphes), Réserve de Pichon-Lalande and the grand vin itself. There wasn't a dud wine there.

I returned to my hotel. I lay on the bed. And I closed my eyes.
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