As unlikely as it seems, 2010 seems to be the second excellent vintage in a row for the Grands Crus wines of Bordeaux. This phenomenon does occur a few times a century, but early reports of this new great vintage engendered a lot of skepticism.
Before we began the day with our formal tasting, we all trooped over to Château Cheval Blanc. It was, as usual, a media circus with the top wine critics from around the world shooting interviews with each other and with dapper, sophisticated winery manager Pierre Lurton -- who we would later also see at the Château d’Yquem tasting – the other property he manages.
Becky Sue Epstein is back in Bordeaux, for the annual en primeur tastings. She continues her live coverage from France here. It has begun. The criss-crossing of Bordeaux by hundreds of journalists and thousands of buyers, swirling, sniffing, sipping and spitting hundreds of samples of the new wines, the vintage 2010 wines from the great châteaux of Bordeaux, the Unions des Grands Crus (UGC).
On Planet Bordeaux, you can find Bordeaux and Bordeaux Soup. Planet Bordeaux is an alliance of two wine appellations, Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur. The second appellation is “Bordeaux Soup” for short (actually it’s Bordeaux Sup., but to English-speakers it sounds like “soup.”)
Less than an hour out of the city of Bordeaux and we’re stopped in a little lane in the middle of a farm. “The GPS says it’s here,” the driver offers, looking around at what is obviously not the château we’re looking for. He calls headquarters. Frankly, I can’t understand how anyone finds their way around the famed regions of Sauternes and Barsac in the southern part of Bordeaux.
In the evening, we drove into the center of Bordeaux, which takes about an hour, just to taste one wine: Château d’Yquem. This year, château director Pierre Lurton had decided to take over the beautiful Bordeaux opera house in the center of town.
We arrived at the Château Figeac where the Manoncourt family has resided for centuries. A housemaid in an aproned uniform brought water, then we were left entirely alone for the better part of an hour. Until, strolling the grounds, we spied another housemaid cleaning outside, and asked her to find out what was up. It turned out our host was over at Château Cheval Blanc, having a great tasting. He arrived a few minutes later.
On that next to last day of the week, we eased into the tasting with some lovely wines from the middle of the Médoc region, a fairly long, narrow rustic peninsula just north of Bordeaux, where small farms are interspersed with vineyards and very small villages.