I never thought I would be dancing shirtless at Château Pétrus. Mykonos or St. Tropez, yes..but Pétrus?
I went to the harvesters’ party last night at the famous Pomerol estate, and the 50 pickers, along with the owners, were rocking. And they had been picking all day as well! What energy. Apparently they were all fueled on 2005 Bordeaux selection Moueix! At least, the simple red served at the dinner and disco at Pétrus was very similar, according to Edouard Moueix. You get to drink it during the day while picking as well…
There’s a harvest party every night here for two weeks as the workers pick grapes at the various estates under the Moueix umbrella, including such great names as Pétrus, Trotanoy and Lafleur Pétrus. “Happy pickers mean good quality grapes,” said Christian Moueix, the well-known head of the Moueix business, who also was seen dancing shirtless. This shirtless stuff was only because the disc jockey played French house music that said you had to take your shirt off…when in Pomerol do as they do in Pomerol, was my motto. All the men immediately removed their shirts when they heard the music. I couldn’t stand around in my t-shirt.
But I had a warm feeling inside when I attended the harvest party. We often talk about the crazy prices for wines like Pétrus, and sometimes you can even forget it is wine. I hear people say in Bordeaux that their wines are “luxury products”…blah, blah, blah…Hermes bag, Ferrari…blah, blah, blah. But great wine is still an agricultural product, no matter what you do to it, and some people need to remember this, including myself. Seeing Moueix partying with his pickers after a long day’s work was great. I wish you all had been there. It made me happy that Bordeaux makes great wine and that there are so many great wines around the world.
In fact, I had something of a debate about this in the kitchen of Les Sources de Caudalie during a dinner on Wednesday night with Thomas Duroux of Palmer, Alfred Tesseron of Pontet-Canet and François Thienpont, a négociant whose family also owns part of Vieux-Château-Certan. I often hold a dinner in the kitchen of the hotel as a casual way to chill and talk about what’s happening in the region, and chef Franck Salein is excellent – no chi-chi BS food, just solid cooking.
Anyway, the winemakers seemed to all be in agreement that the top wines of Bordeaux are now luxury products and priced accordingly. I just can’t get my head around that. And I told them: It doesn’t feel right. Maybe I am wrong? I have a Hermes belt, Louis Vuitton bag…etc. but I can’t compare them to the bottle or two of Latour or Margaux in my cellar. You don’t consume leather products or Etro ties!
I like what John Kolasa of Rauzan-Ségla said to me yesterday as I tasted his superb 2005, when I mentioned some of my dinner conversation. “I always try to remember what my father said about high prices and all this other stuff,” he said, slurping his 2005. “It’s only wine! People forget this.”
But I don’t think the silly pricing for 2005 Bordeaux is going to have many ramifications anytime soon. The wines are superb--they really are. Some of my friends in the wine trade have predicated doom for Bordeaux after some of the excess pricing by château owners. But I think what I heard from wine merchant Pierre Lawton during a lunch at Léoville-Las-Cases is most likely true. It went something like this roughly translated from French:
“James, I have heard that the Bordeaux machine was broken after price increases for many top vintages, including 1982, 1985, 1989, 1995, 2000, 2003 and now 2005. But it always keep going….”
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