I am writing this from the passenger seat of my sports car with tasting coordinator Jo Cooke at the wheel as we drive toward Bordeaux through the Cote d’Azur. No ticket yet! It takes about 11 hours from Tuscany to Bordeaux. I have made it in less time, but I wouldn’t like to elaborate.
It’s good to be back in France. I feel sort of sentimental. I have been coming to Bordeaux every year since 1983. And 2006 will be my 25th vintage I have tasted from barrel. Experience counts a lot in my book.
I remember the first time I tasted from barrel. It was a lunch with Alexis Lichine at his Château Prieure-Lichine at the end of VinExpo, the big professional wine fair held ever other year in Bordeaux. The 1982s were lying in barrel and they were so good to taste! The ripe fruit and velvety tannins were already so yummy. Alexis and I became good friends after that and I always tried to stop in and spend time with him. I miss him. He died a long time ago.
Anyway, it was Alexis, negociant Daniel Lawton, and wine critic Terry Robards who really instructed me on how to taste from barrel. I remember Lawton always saying that it was the length of the wine that counted the most when tasting from barrel and I have always looked for that. I think some people think too much about a finished wine when they taste barrel samples and they want big juicy wines. But that’s a mistake in my opinion. In fact, a lot of people come to Bordeaux and taste from barrel now and they don’t have a clue what they are doing. Bordeaux’s en primeur campaign, or futures tasting event, is more of a social event than anything else for many.
I will taste some wines this weekend, and then I get into the thick of it on Monday. I always enjoy tasting the new vintage in Bordeaux, even when it is miserable. I remember tasting such green and herbaceous vintages as 1984, 1987 and 1992 as well as the great ones from 1982 to 2005. I have little anecdotes and memories of each year.
I will be giving all of you snippets from this year’s tasting visit in a few days. So stay tuned. I have heard very mixed reports on 2006 in general. Some people say that they have made exceptional reds due to severe selections of grapes in their vineyards as well as wines in their cellars. Others say that their young wines are good but nothing special. And reports are that the bread-and-butter wines of the region are weak. So it’s going to be a mixed bag!
Anyway, I will know more in a few days ...
Bob Golbahar — Los Angeles — March 23, 2007 5:11pm ET
Karl Mark — Geneva, IL. — March 23, 2007 8:48pm ET
Ray Barnes — Surrey BC Canada — March 23, 2007 9:09pm ET
Flavio Leoni Siqueira — new york — March 23, 2007 11:28pm ET
Merlin — Zurich, Switzerland — March 24, 2007 6:40am ET
Doug Daniell — Ontario/Canada — March 24, 2007 7:28am ET
James Suckling — — March 24, 2007 7:37am ET
Doug Daniell — Ontario/Canada — March 24, 2007 9:29am ET
Vandendriessche Bernard — BELGIUM — March 26, 2007 10:53am ET
Courdurie Pierre — London — March 30, 2007 10:20am ET
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