07-jan-07-small.jpgSo, after a successful Friday night’s tasting (see previous post), I decided I’d continue on Saturday evening.  Michelle was catching up with a bunch of her horse-riding friends, so I was on my own.  That being the case, I thought that just the one bottle would probably do.  I was keen to revisit one of the wine’s that James Warren had picked out over New Year, as I remember it being very good and had come to think that it was very good value.  It’s a Château Belgrave 2003, a Haut- Médoc “Left Banker” and, more than that, was classified in the 1855 official classification of Médoc and Graves as a “Cinquième Cru”, or “Fifth Growth” wine which, in theory, puts it within the 61 best Left Bank wine producers.  You can see a picture of the empty bottle to the right, which probably tells you more of the story than the following words!

When we bought the wine from the E.Leclerc supermarket last week it was, at 16,90 euros, one of the least expensive we picked up.  Late last week, I exchanged a few emails with an old mate, Beev, who told me that he was now buying a lot of his wine through the Wine and Co website.  A few minutes browsing later, and I discovered that Wine and Co is selling the very same wine for £21.28 a bottle!  So on Saturday afternoon I popped back to E.Leclerc and picked up a few more. 

On Saturday evening, I settled down with the Château Belgrave, my Oz Clarke Bordeaux book and another wine book that I’d found amongst some of my Dad’s old ones:  Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course.  This was published in ’95, but I figured that things haven’t changed too much since then and in any case, the book looked like it contained very comprehensive sections of how to taste, what to look for, suggestions for aromas to pick out, etc etc.  Encouragingly, early on in Robinson’s book she states:  “Almost anyone can be a wine taster; all it takes is a will and a nose.”  Great!  I’ve got both! 

I decided to taste the wine first, before reading too much, to see what I could pick out.  It left me a little confused.  While certainly very nice indeed, it didn’t appear to have a strongly fruity nose, certainly nothing like the Côtes de Castillon or the Graves I had tasted the night before.  It seemed very dry and gave me a tickle towards the back of my tongue, which I suspected might be tannins.  Later I read in Robinson’s book that a good way to test your mouth’s reaction to tannins is to swill cold, stewed tea around your mouth.  I tried that this morning and had a similar (though much more severe) reaction.  Not least from Michelle. 

I spent a very pleasant evening in the company of my Château Belgrave, the dogs and the FA Cup on the telly.  In Oz Clarke’s book, he says that, “as prices are still relatively low, Belgrave is very good value” and I’d certainly agree.  He also says that it is best drunk between five and ten years, so I was probably drinking it a bit young.  Don’t worry, I shall be sourcing some more and laying it down.