En Primeur day 4 – St Emilion and Pomerol…
Alastair Pyatt’s final blog from the 2011 Bordeaux En Primeur Tasting.
Our fourth and final day saw us up at the crack of dawn to make the hour or so drive across the river to the right bank appellations of St Emilion and Pomerol with their clay soils, merlot dominated wines and achingly beautiful landscapes – gone were the gravel flat plains and grand Chateaux of the Medoc, replaced now by the gently rolling green hills and rustic farmhouses of the right bank.
First up was St Emilion Grand Cru Chateau Teyssier – run by the inimitable and distinguished Brit Johnny Maltus, a great friend of Jascots and producer of some of the finest wines to be found on the right bank. Compared to the power of the left bank wines we had tasted over the preceding couple of days, the selection from the Maltus stable proved to be a little more restrained and delicate but no less appealing - with all the hallmark characteristics and subtle nuances that you would expect in the wines of the commune.
From Teyssier, we headed next to the village of St Emilion itself and another Union des Grands Crus tasting only to find it closed and so piled back in the car via an altercation between Jack and a local vigneron who had decided, in an otherwise totally empty car park, to park right next to us, swing his car door open and crash it into our rental car – Jack didn’t take too kindly to this and told him in no uncertain terms what he thought – Monsieur took one look at the British Bulldog that is Jack Scott and wisely thought better of arguing. With the entente cordiale lying in tatters in a St Emilion car park, we headed down the road, via another UGC tasting to our final and smallest appellation of the trip, the much vaunted Pomerol, home of legendary names such as Chx Petrus , Le Pin and many more eye-wateringly expensive wines besides.
Ever wary of the imminent drive all the way back to Bordeaux Merignac for the afternoon flight back to Gatwick, we made short work here of the handful of wines on show but boy, were they impressive – there is a purity of expression unlike any other in the wines of Pomerol when they get it right and the class of 2011 are graduating in style – combining depth of flavour, delicacy, richness and length that is not often found in other wines of a similar cuvee.
With time escaping us, we tasted our last wine and made our final notes, ever diligent and thorough and headed back to the car and soon were cruising down the autoroute, airport and England bound.
A few hours later and I was snapped back to reality, sitting on a bus in the very un-French and un-romantic surroundings of Clapham Junction – I found myself silently musing on the wines and events of the week – Some wines had disappointed, some had surprised and many had impressed, leaving a lasting impression. This had been what the Bordelaise refer to as ‘a winemaker’s vintage’ and what you and I would call ‘a bloody tricky vintage’ – but those properties that had been careful and selective in the winemaking process had managed to make some very good wine indeed – I for one will be watching carefully and with much anticipation for the forthcoming en primeur releases.No doubt, the experience had been fantastic, fast-paced, intensive, and in many ways, a veritable rite of passage for a young(ish) wine pro such as myself – Having tasted well over 200 examples of some of the world’s most expensive wine in the course of 3 days, I sat on the 156 bus, back in London and heading for a Thursday evening in Wimbledon, with only one thing on my mind…
‘Anyone fancy a pint?’
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