August 2007


red.jpgred.jpgred.jpgberlese.jpgberlese.jpgberlese.jpgberlese.jpgberlese.jpgI spent a very enjoyable evening yesterday drinking too much with a good friend Mark and his family who are staying in our gite at the moment.  Well, he’s a good friend now but a dozen years ago he was the founder of one of the first companies I worked for…and quite scary for that.  It’s always great to spend some time with him.  He’s bright, challenging, honest – all things that make for an interesting discussion.

Inevitably, considering we were drinking a fair bit of it, the discussion turned to wine.  We’d already sunk a bottle pf 2002 Chateau Poujeaux, a Moulis-en-Medoc, and were halfway down a 2003 Chateau Belgrave, a Haut-Medoc – both very nice.  Mark will readily admit to being far from knowledgeable about wine, but was keen to learn.  We covered a broad number of subjects; the challenges of over-production in the Bordeaux wine region, the less-than-clear labelling of French wines to most of the world’s wine-buying public, the traditional ‘negociant’ system of trading wine in Bordeaux which makes it very hard to visit and buy direct from chateaux, the main Bordeaux ACs, grape varieties and more.

Mark was keen to see if he could spot differences between wines, so I decided to give him two wines that should, in theory, be quite contrasting.  One was the 2003 Chateau Belgrave Haut-Medoc we were already drinking and the other was a 2004 Chateaux Beauregard, a Pomerol and therefore a Right Bank to the Belgrave’s Left.  The Beauregard is made solely from Merlot and Cabernet Franc grape varieties; the Belgrave containing these but also a good proportion (nearly a third) of Cabernet Sauvignon and also Petit Verdot.

In a direct comparison, Mark could definitely tell that they were two significantly different wines but (like me) struggled to fine the descriptors to describe the differences.  The Beauregard was fruitier and also has a smooth richness that the Belgrave lacked.  The Belgrave – as with many Left Bank wines – was spicier and had a minerally edge.

Mark likened the tasting to that of looking at a colour spectrum; flavours not being separate but blending into one continuous series of subtly changing tones.  While someone with an eye for colour, he said, could pick a crimson from a Persian red, he was still at the stage of telling green from yellow!  Nicely put, I thought.

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It’s been a bit quiet round here of late.  You may have noticed.  I know some people have, because they’ve been badgering me about it.  There’s a couple of reasons – one being that I’ve been quite busy with other stuff (you know, the kind of stuff that pays the rent!) and the other (and probably better) reason is that I haven’t been drinking quite as much.  I’ve been out on the bike quite a lot training for next year’s London to St-Emilion ride and have been trying to be as good as possible, which means consuming less wine.

Still, the arrival of old buddy James Warren and family here at Les Chapelles for a fortnight’s holiday is a considerable (and welcome) kick up the backside in terms of drinking…and of particularly drinking decent wine.  Over the past few days, therefore, we’ve enjoyed some splendid wines.  Of particular note have been a 2004 Chateau du Tertre Margaux Grand Cru Classe (5th Growth…but better than that!), a 2004 Chateau Yon-Figeac St-Emilion Grand Cru Classe (very kind gift from the Warren’s) and a 2002 Chateau Pontet-Canet Pauillac (equally kind gift from our friends the Hounshams).  Every one of them was delicious.

Speaking of our friends the Hounshams, they hosted a lovely lunch last Sunday for us all.  I took along a few bottles of wine but their names fail me now!  Always my downfall…  I do remember a couple of nice Lalande de Pomerols.

I’m off out this afternoon to buy some wine as we’ve got some more friends popping over for drinks this evening, so will hopefully have some more to report soon!