A funny thing happened on the way to Bordeaux en primeur

SO, there I was, first day of Bordeaux En Primeur 2010. 9:30am,we set out, my palate was fresh and it was a beautiful sunny early Spring day. First on the list, Pomerol, where we were heading to one of the grand cru classe tastings. I couldn’t wait to finally experience what it would be like to taste these great wines when they’re just months old. It was going to be a giant learning curve but I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

And then disaster.

We had barely driven 500 meters from the chateau we were staying in when the car died. Ironically enough, in a place called Grace Dieu (God’s Place). I’ll give the car this much, like elephants, it picked an appropriate place to die. Rather then spend our first morning in St. Emilion at a grand chateau, what did we do? Wait for the French equivalent of the AAA. To add insult to injury, there were loads of cars passing us by full of journos,who I’m sure were on their way to the very same tasting we had wanted to do.

After waiting about 3 hrs by the roadside, yes, the French AAA is just as speedy as the American version. We ended up at a biodynamic wine tasting that was held at Ch. Fonroque which itself is a grand cru classe of St. Emilion. The tasting had almost nothing to do with St. Emilion but it was close by and they did have an organic/biodynamic lunch for all those who were crazy or desperate enough to go to a biodynamic tasting during en primeur.

Biodyvin is a body of wine produers in France who make their wines according to biodynamic priciples, which in a nutshell is homepathy for plants, using the lunar cycle to plant, harvest and even bottle the wine. Some would consider them a bit out there but of all the biodynamic wines I tasted at Biodyvin, most were very high quality indeed. There was even 3 champagne producers, Fleury is probably the most famous, being quite highly rated in wine competitions and in wine magazines. I found an excellent dry chenin blanc from Anjou, Domaine de Juchepie made by the Oosterlinck-Bracke family. A slightly sweet wine with just enough zip to keep it lively, it was delicious and their sweet chenins were like nectar.  I do love dessert wines.

I also sampled quite a few wines from the lesser known parts of Bordeaux, such as the Cotes de Bordeaux and the Cotes de Bourg. Chateau Falfas from the Cotes de Bourg as well as Chateau Grollet were both standouts, very good value for money, showing pure fruit and a generous dose of minerality.

After lunch we went hitched a ride to a  Union de Grand Crus de Bordeaux tasting in the village of St. Emilion. Finally! Well, it was an interesting experience but it was hard going. Don’t be fooled into thinking tasting young grand cru Bordeaux is easy. These are wines that are built to last and the tannins and acidity in the 2010 harvest were going strong. I had some limited experience with young grand cru Bordeaux earlier in the year but nothing really prepares you for the onslaught of tannins and the pure raw rugged energy of tasting these wines. Ch. Troplong Mondot and Ch. Figeac were the two standouts of the tasting for me. I thought them of exceptional quality and even at their tender age, it was apparent that they had that something special which makes great Bordeaux.

We finished off the day, on the terrace of the chateau we were staying at, drinking an ’05 Bordeaux from Clos Chante l’Alouette, another biodynamic wine, soft, round tannins, lovely blackcurrant and prune notes and an edge of leather and tar, just what the doctor ordered after tasting the new wines. We weren’t really sure how we were going to get around the next day but for the moment we had a nice Bordeaux to keep those worries at bay.

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