The MW Institute’s Annual Claret Tasting is almost too much of a good thing. Tasting all one hundred and twenty wines from Bordeaux’s finest districts requires steely determination, nifty footwork and a healthy dollop of over-ambition. You’ll also need to keep an eye on your watch as you’ve only a few hours. Then, just as you think you’ve licked it, tasting St Estèphe, Pauillac, St Julien, Margaux, Haut-Médoc and Pessac-Léognan back-to-back in the grand Vintners Hall, up come the wines of St Emilion and Pomerol, lying in wait in an adjoining room. Talk about kicking a man when he’s down. Fortunately, since last year, you can perk up with some fine Sauternes and Barsac at the very end before hailing a taxi cab and finding somewhere to lie down.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Cos d’Estournel’
Twenty-minutes isn’t a long time, but it’s a lifetime if, on the eve of harvest, your vineyard is sat beneath a storm producing hail the size of golf balls. As extreme vineyard events go the St Estèphe hail storm that struck on September 1st 2011 was a dramatic as they come. Not every producer was mind you. It was highly localised, passing some vineyards, clipping others but decimating quite a few. Basil Tesseron, owner of Chateau Lafon-Rochet, who made good wine in the end, described it as the viticultural equivalent of falling off the Empire State Building – a microscopically short event ending in oblivion. The immediate fear, apart from the reduction in yield and damage to those vines physically stripped of their leaves, branches and fruit, would have then been the secondary threat of rot on the remaining bunches. This fear would have been made more complex by the fact that the vineyards were approaching maturity but not quite ready to pick. Do you wait and get proper phenolic ripeness or risk losing the lot to rot? Or do you pick quickly but end up with green wines and unripe tannins? Add all this to a vintage that had seen conditions see-saw and which overall was pitifully dry. Pouring over meteorological charts at that few days of harvest was probably all you could do – that and having a stiff gin and tonic and go with your instinct. Close your eyes and feel the force Luke.
Only four wines were shown from the St Estèphe appellation at the MW Institute tasting but Chateau Cos d’Estournel has turned in an excellent effort in 2007. Chateau Montrose meanwhile felt much more backward and Chateau Cos Labory and Chateau Lafon Rochet both felt light and lacking in depth. It’s really worth searching out their 2006s, 2008s and 2009s instead.
So we have a week to collect ourselves during Vinexpo, Bordeaux’s wine trade fair that runs this week, to assess just where we are with the controversial release prices of the 2010 Bordeaux vintage. If you thought prices for 2009 were a bit heady then so far the prices of some 2010s have been eye-watering. In certain notable cases prices are up 40% year on year and that on top of similar increases last year. You wonder why Bank of England chief Mervyn King is losing sleep about the UK’s paltry 4.5% inflation rate. Small beer Merv, get with it. Bordeaux’s up ten times as much.