We are now seriously getting ready for the intense two weeks of tasting in Bordeaux.
All around Bordeaux vineyards, tasters are rushing from one estate to the other and hoping not being caught by the French gendarmerie!
There are two ways the Bordeaux châteaus present their wines for the en primeur tastings.
Some châteaus will join forces and pour samples of their 2006s on common grounds. For instance, many St.-Emilion châteaus will be tasted at one place, the Graves at another one, and so on. The logistics are actually very well-organized (by the Union des Grands Crus, among others), and these tastings are the best options to spot the overall quality and style of a vintage. If you are prepared to taste like a marathon man, you could easily sample 250 châteaus per day—and don’t forget that, as we say in Bordeaux, all these wines are for sale.
Other estates (including Cos-d'Estournel) do not show their wines at these large common tastings. You might say they are so sure of themselves that they prefer the tasters to come and visit them. Technically speaking, we find that this is the best way to taste samples made on the spot fresh out of the barrels. It also gives the visitors an option to talk to the people behind the wines and get more technical details about the vintage and winemaking behind it. Close to 500 trade people have already made reservations to visit us. Two years ago, I remember the cellar master at Cos complaining about the number of bottles that we had to give away for these tastings. A typical greedy Frenchman ….
The other part of the game is the handling of the Bordeaux wine merchants. These négociants are the intermediaries between the châteaus and the international wine trade; they actually buy the wines from us and sell them to the people that sell them to you. Cos works with about 70 négociants, who will typically taste the wines several times before it is actually offered for sale en primeur. Our négociant friends will start tasting the 2006 next week and will surely tell us how cautious we have to be with prices. They truly are the best advocates for consumers when it comes to tempering the “ambitions” of the châteaus.
Last night, I held a dinner party for my very good friend Rupert Symington from the great Port family that owns, among others, Grahams, Dow’s, Warre’s, etc. I also invited 15 Bordeaux négociants to meet him. Rupert was very surprised to see most of them so beautifully suntanned. Later on, we discovered that most of them had just come back from vacations in Mauritius, the Seychelles or other paradises. After that, I had great difficulties convincing Rupert that they all have very serious hard work in front of them and needed to get fit.
Alex Salomon — Paris, France — March 16, 2007 4:39pm ET
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — March 16, 2007 7:45pm ET
Gil Schwarz — Las — March 16, 2007 9:44pm ET
James Peterson — San Antonio, Texas — March 17, 2007 10:11am ET
Thomas A Mobley Iii — Tallahassee, FL — March 17, 2007 3:00pm ET
Alex Salomon — Paris, France — March 18, 2007 1:05pm ET
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