etiquette_connetable.jpgI popped into the Carrefour supermarket in nearby Saintes on Friday.  I hadn’t been in there for a while and thought I should check out its wine department (in addition to needing to pick up a few provisions while Michelle was busy in the town centre sales…).  I was accompanied my little boy Jacques.  He’s nearly three and is become quite familiar with the wine departments of a number of supermarkets in the area.  It’s tricky though, as invariably the wine sections are right at the opposite end of the supermarket from the entrance, so by the time we reach them Jacques is getting a little impatient with the whole shopping thing. 

He gave me a few minutes on Friday for a browse and, having taken the Oz book along, I found a relatively small but well-stocked section.  I was immediately attracted to a St-Julien called Connétable Talbot for one specific reason: it was from the fantastic 2000 vintage.  It’s actually quite unusual to see anything from 2000 on the shelves nowadays – most of it has already been snapped up – especially something from such a well-regarded AC as St-Julien.  I had a hunch that this wine would be connected to the extremely well-known Château Talbot and Oz confirmed that Connétable Talbot is Château Talbot’s second wine (the picture here isn’t of my bottle’s label – hence the 2002 vintage).

  Second wines are interesting things.  Most, if not all, of the “classed growth” châteaux produce a second wine these days.  Essentially, it’s a wine made from the lots of wine that aren’t selected for the château’s main wine (which might only use up around 30% of the crop).  It might be that the lots used for the second wine come from younger vines, or from vines in parts of the vineyard that are regarded as having less than perfect soil, or are sloping the wrong way.  In any case, they still produce a good quality wine (from the same château as some of the world’s finest), with many of the same styles and flavours, but generally at somewhere between half and a quarter of the cost.  In addition, second wines are usually ready to drink at a younger age than the main wine, so a 2000 vintage should be just about perfect right now.  There were only four bottles of the Connétable Talbot left in the case, so I grabbed them all.  17,90 euros a piece. We opened one on Friday night.  It was easy to spot that this was a lighter wine, though still had some distinct blackcurrant on the nose and I was certainly getting a bit of cigarbox when tasting.  Delicious, and I must say I’m very happy to have another three tucked away in the cave.  Particularly as they really should be drunk fairly soon.