We had two very enjoyable visits to the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions with 3D vineyard Partners. Despite the tragic event in Nice, uncertain waters as the UK decides to leave the EU, and earlier weather conditions that severely damaged vines in Burgundy, Beaujolais and the Loire Valley, our vignerons were on excellent form.
A Taste of Burgundy
Burgundy in June was mostly damp, on the back of frost and then hail in many places. So we couldn’t have been luckier for our event though, the sun came out for our visit to the Tonnellerie François Frères cooper in St. Aubin. It really is fascinating to see how barrels are made – almost as complicated as making wine! It’s still very much a labour intensive, artisanal craft. One can really appreciate just why these barrels cost upwards of € 700-800 each and require a significant investment on the part of many of our winemakers each year.
We were able to walk amongst the vines at Vincent Désertaux’s beautifully situated Meursault 1er Cru vineyard.
Our picnic and tasting chez Jacob in Echevronne was a wonderful occasion as always – the food, wine and company were marvellous, with Christine, Chantal and Jean-Michel on sparkling form!
Throughout Burgundy, the vines were looking distinctly straggly, with very little growth to speak of. Without doubt, very little wine will be made in 2016. The quality could still be very good of course, that will largely depend on the weather in August and September. However, prices will go up universally.
On a more cheerful note however, it was wonderful to taste the 2014 and 2015 vintages. The former, now in bottle – and many of them offered during our Option rounds this year – are delicious, with good colour, freshness and bright, focused fruit flavours. They are fragrant and concentrated and will develop really well over the years.
The 2015s, mostly tasted from barrel, are really sumptuous. The whites are rich and fruity with low acidity. They are gorgeous now and will provide lovely drinking in the short to mid-term. The reds are deeply coloured and are sweet, ripe and bursting with powerful, supple, dark fruit flavours. Potentially they are every bit as good as the 2005s, 2009s and 2010s and will be excellent for short, mid and long-term drinking.
Our event took place at the beginning of July. The weather was kind – it felt warm and the sun showed itself most of the time.
Due to its position beside the Atlantic, frosts are quite rare in Bordeaux. So is hail. Consequently the vines are looking very healthy. Flowering occurred in stable weather and the young bunches looked healthy and plentiful. However, humidity is frequently a problem in this maritime climate. Consequently, mildew can occur during the summer months, so frequent spraying with copper sulphate and lime mix is necessary at the present.
Our visit to Château Monconseil-Gazin was memorable, as it always is, with delightful wines matched to a carefully thought out menu. Dining in their château is a real privilege and the Baudet family so warm and hospitable.
The trip to St-Emilion was special – especially for those who have never visited this gorgeous town. A visit to Château Cardinal Villemaurine, right on the edge of the town, and a tour of their deep, winding, atmospheric cellars, full of old vintages and modern art, was lovely.
Rising early on Sunday morning (never easy, especially when in a wine region) we were able to cross the huge river Gironde in Blaye to the blue, sunny skies of the left bank of the Medoc. I have visited this area many, many times, but it is still a thrill to see at first hand the amazing grands chateaux. The many architectural styles, as well as the beautiful gardens, is just incredible. Seeing the likes of Château Pichon Longueville-Baron, Château Palmer, Château Lafite and Château Margaux close up is incredible. Oh to taste their wines!
The visit to our very own Cru Bourgeois, Château Mongravey in Margaux is a real treat. Karin Bernaleau was on great form and the tasting was exceptional. Their wines are so well made – across the whole range. Lunch was then taken at the Golf du Medoc near Margaux (where the Belgium football team had just departed) and it was a real treat to enjoy a fabulous lunch with some of their older vintages.
Dinner that evening was under the stars at our beautiful base in Blaye (Château Pontet D’Eyran). The meal was once again fabulous, as was the wine (from Château Rousselle in the Côte de Bourg) and the company excellent. There was much celebration that went on until the early hours after France’s win against Iceland in Euro 2016. I have never witnessed vintage champagne being served on a bicycle. But that’s another story…