The first quarter of this year has rapidly vanished, and spring has arrived symbolising the tasting of wines ‘en primeur’ (wine futures), from the previous year’s harvest. (Read last week’s post by Tom Gearing for a comprehensive overview of the system). For the past five years the Cult Wines team have attended the illustrious en primeur tasting in Bordeaux, each year has been a unique and enlightening experience. Wine aside, this is a week of grandeur in many ways; the Châteaux’s themselves are silently competing to provide the most memorable experience, and it is often the ‘extra little touches’ employed, that generate the most discussion.
Bordeaux is besieged by journalists, merchants and aficionados, resulting in colourful array of characters, creating an electric atmosphere. With close to a potential 1,000 different wines to try and innumerable venues to choose from, devising a schedule is the first major challenge to overcome. It is necessary to pack a lot in throughout the four days, and as our timetable illustrates we have done just that.
Our objective next week is to visit the Châteaux’s, taste the wines which are still in barrel, and assess the price quality ratio, whilst avoiding palate fatigue induced by the young sometimes tannic wines, but alleviated (according to Jonathan Stevenson -Portfolio Manager) by the outstanding cheesy snacks on offer at most of the Châteaux’s, especially Angelus.
The general consensus this year is that prices need to decrease by at least 15% and 30% for First Growths, in order to avoid last year’s scenario of high prices creating deterring buyers. It is common knowledge that 2012 was a tricky year, and producers will be sure to stress the effort and sacrifices incurred in order to maintain quality. Click here to read: The 2012 vintage report by Professor Denis Dubourdieu
|Monday 8th April|
|9 H 00||Château CHEVAL BLANC|
|10 H 00||Château AUSONE|
|11 H 00||Château PAVIE|
|12 H 00||Château VALANDRAUD|
|13 H 30||Château ANGELUS|
|14 H 00||Château L’EGLISE CLINET|
|15 H 00||Château LE PIN|
|16 H 00||VIEUX Château CERTAN|
|16 H 30||Château CLINET|
|Tuesday 9th April|
|9 H 00||Château CALON SEGUR|
|10 H 00||Château MONTROSE|
|11 H 00||Château COS D’ESTOURNEL|
|11 H 30||Château LAFITE ROTHSCHILD|
|14 H 00||Château MOUTON ROTHSCHILD|
|15 H 00||Château PONTET CANET|
|16 H 00||Château LATOUR|
|Wednesday 10th April|
|9 H 15||Château LEOVILLE LAS CASES|
|9 H 45||Château LEOVILLE POYFERRE|
|10 H 30||Château DUCRU BEAUCAILLOU|
|11 H 00||Château Saint PIERRE|
|11 H 30 -13 H 00||Château BELGRAVE|
|14 H 00||Château MARGAUX|
|15 H 00||Château PALMER|
|Thursday 11th April||15 H 30||Château LE DOME|
|12 H 30||Château HAUT – BRION|
|16 H 30||Château PAPE CLEMENT|
Day one: focuses on the Right Bank wines, which received some good feedback at the Cercle Rive Droite tasting in March. Critics noted that the wines in general had impressive aromatics, as well as being flavoursome and well balanced. Alain Raynaud, the president of the Cercle Rive Droite, said that the grapes had good polyphenols and anthocyanins, which would imply the wines would age well. Châteaux’s Le Pin and Valandraud will be visited by us for the first time, serving as an exciting addition.
Day two: focuses more on the Left Bank, visiting three out of five Premier Grand Cru Châteaux’s. As well as Pontet Canet, Montrose, Calon Segur and Cos D’ Estournel. In between a busy tasting schedule it is also important to re fuel, and this year we are particularly lucky to be having lunch at three estates who have produced 100-point wines recently, Pontet Canet, Pape Clement & Le Dome. Last year lunch at Chateau Pontet Canet was widely regarded as one of the highlights of the trip and no doubt, this year will be just as impressive.
Day three: Some slightly lighter wines of the St-Julien and Beychevelle commune on the left bank to start the day of. Then along to Premier Grand Cru Châteaux Margaux, and to finish the afternoon Chateau Palmer.
Day four: Kick starting the day with Premier Grand Cru Château Haut Brion, followed by Le Dome, which is a first for the CW team, so naturally we are eagerly anticipating this experience. Chateau Pape Clemant serves as the ultimate finale destination, as it is one of our favourite producers.
In order to ensure that we are able to fully re-charge our batteries each night, we have arranged to stay in beautiful XIX century hotel private mansion in the center of the city. Hopefully the weather holds out so that we can make use of the roof terrace! If not we will have to relax in the underground cinema instead!
You will be very pleased to know that we will be taking things fairly lightly each evening in order to preserve our sensitive palates, so for those in the area wishing to catch up for a glass in the evening we will be dining ‘Chez Base’ on Monday, where the team will be enjoying the sensory delights of PG’s culinary skills. Tuesday much of the same with a local chef providing us with a feast of Bordeaux gastronomy, and finally on Wednesday we venture out into Bordeaux, dining at a superb restaurant called Comptoir Cuisine. We will be providing a culinary update for those interested including wines consumed (tasting notes if we can find the napkins at the end of each meal), and you will be pleased to know that we will be imposing a curfew of 10pm to ensure the team are fresh and ready for the next challenge!!
We will be posting daily updates on this blog detailing our thoughts on the wines we have tried, you can also communicate with us on twitter @cultwinesuk