Drinking


2708.jpgLast Thursday, Michelle and I left the kids at home with my parents and went down to Cap Ferret for a night away.  My folks had been down there with some friends and loved the place.  They’d also eaten at a lovely restaurant in what looked like a very nice hotel, so they suggested that we try it.  Cap Ferret’s about 60km to the south west of Bordeaux, right at the end of the thin spit of land across the bay (or ‘Bassin’) from Arcachon.  It’s become quite trendy over the last decade or so, to the point that property prices are now astronomical.  It’s to Bordeaux what somewhere like Whitstable is to London, I guess.

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pau.jpgIt’s been a bit mad, this last week or so.  I was in Seattle (or rather Bellevue, a fairly soulless suburb) for a four-day conference.  Not a great deal to report on the wine front, I’m afraid.  I did drink some, but nothing terribly memorable and, to be honest, most was held in the tight grip of a waiter and I was unable to see the label.  Given we were being entertained and I hadn’t therefore ordered any of it, I’m not sure what it was!  I’m pretty sure Merlot featured and I’m assuming it was US wine, but other than that… 

Otherwise, it was the odd beer (and if you’re ever offered some of a local brew called Arrogant Bastard I can recommend you decline…the arrogance, I suspect, describing those who could have ever claimed they’d produced a decent beer) and an extraordinarily large shot of tequila, which was totally unnecessary (but when are they not?).

I left Seattle on Thursday evening, and a rather ridiculous journey took me to Heathrow, then a car to Stansted to catch a flight to Poitiers followed by a train to Bordeaux to meet a very good mate, Chris, who’d flown into Bordeaux earlier that afternoon.  I’d therefore avoided going home altogether between the business trip to the US and an indulgent weekend of drinking, eating and watching fantastic old cars race around the streets of Pau, in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

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21-march.JPGWe opened a couple of bottles last night (though I must stress, we didn’t finish them both!) – the Chateau Phelan-Segur 2001 St-Estephe red and an Abeille de Fieuzal 2003 Pessac-Leognan white. 

The L’Abeille de Fieuzal is the second wine of Chateau de Fieuzal, of which we have previously very much enjoyed a 1998 vintage of its red.  I’m keen to visit the Pessac-Leognan AC – it’s the premium appellation of the Graves region and includes some of the suburbs of Bordeaux itself.  Chateau de Fieuzal itself sits a little further out, to the south-west of the town of Leognan.  It’s a very crisp, light white – really very nice and easy drinking as an aperitif.  In fact, as a white to drink on its own, I’d probably say it edges the Chateau Bouscaut we’re tried from the same region. 

Chateau Phelan-Segur sits right in the village of St-Estephe itself, towards the nortern end of the Medoc region – in fact it’s the most northern of the individual village ACs, being above Pauillac, St-Julien and Margaux.  St-Estephe is probably the least well-regarded of the village ACs that slope gently down to the shores of the Gironde, mainly due to the fact that the soil changes quite significantly north of Pauillac, containing less of the cherised gravel and more clay.  Reputation has it that St-Estephe produces much earthier wines – and the Phelan-Segur was typical!  I thought I’d got a mouthful of soil…OK, so it wasn’t quite that bad, but it certainly had an extremely minerally edge.  It wasn’t unpleasant, but fruity flavours only forced their way through on a couple of occasions (nice suprise when they did, however!)

One final note following yesterday’s post; I’ve received an email from iDealwine saying that my Reserve de la Comtesse 1998 is on the way and should arrive in the next few days.  I’m holding my breath…

08-jan-07-clerc-milon.jpgI’d picked up a couple of lovely little steaks for dinner last night, so it seemed appropriate to have a drop to go with them.  As you can tell, we’re not being particularly abstemious this January!  The only bottle of red in the house was the Château Clerc-Milon 2003 Pauillac bought last week for a bit under 30 euros.  It’s rather too young to be drinking it (it would probably have improved for the next decade at least) and it might’ve been deemed a “bit good” for a Monday night in, but it was pouring with rain outside and I didn’t fancy the walk over to the cave to find something else!  This turned out to be a great decision.

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I promised to let you know which (red) wines we drank over New Year, so here’s the list, along with the prices we paid at the E.Leclerc supermarket in Royan:

  • Château de Fieuzal, Pessac-Léognan, 1998 – 30 euros
  • Château Cap de Mourlin, St. Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2001 – 19.90 euros
  • Château Maucaillou, Moulis (on the Medoc), 2004 – 14.50 euros
  • Château Phélan Ségur, St. Estèphe, can’t remember the year – 18.29 euros
  • Château Tour Pibran, Pauillac, 1998 (I think!) – 27.80 euros
  • Le Fugue de Nenin, Pomerol, 2001 – 23.70 euros
  • Château Belgrave, Haut-Médoc, 2003 – 16.90 euros

Now, I wouldn’t want you thinking that I pay these prices for wine to drink every day of the year, but it was a special occasion!  Having said that, the two lowest priced here (Château Maucaillou and Château Belgrave) were delicious and would be well-worth stocking up on.  Still not bargain basement, but well worth the money.

I didn’t take any detailed tasting notes, but suffice to say, there wasn’t a duff wine among them!