The first day waking up in Bordeaux was a slight bit disorienting for this ‘Buff. First off, I wasn’t tired despite all of my travel overnight the day before and immediately launching into almost a full day and night of awesome Bordelaise activities. Indeed, I felt so fit that I decided to go for my first run of the trip, along the riverfront that we walked the day before. Fearless Mutineer, Alan Kropf (Twitter) took up the challenge to join me in my jogging quest.
[The documentary short of the footage taken during our trip, “Meet Le Wine Buffs“, has now launched! You can find it, as well as all of our 100 Days of Today’s Bordeaux on the Bordeaux Wine Vimeo channel.]
Our pre-foie gras fitness activities accomplished, Alan and headed back to the Normandie for a shower and some breakie. As we approached the hotel, I realized that I needed to get my espresso on and I peeled off to the commuter café that was across the tracks. Here was I was determined to order on my own, with no interpreters. Whether I really was successful in communicating my coffee request or they were just really kind baristas, I got my double espresso with no communication issues to report.
Following a shower and a very fast breakfast, we all piled into our shuttle for the first excursion of the trip, heading into Entre-Deux-Mers and the alluring St.-Émilion, which was one of my favorite spots on the whole trip. It was quite a feeling to look out across the rain-swept land that was outside our foggy windows…it was one of the tens of times on this trip that I found myself almost shell-socked by the beauty of Bordeaux and the fortuitousness that allowed me to appreciate it in person. With more than a little tingling of anticipation, we pulled into the driveway of the very first Chateau of the trip, Château Sainte-Marie, named for the Virgin Mary.
Our host that day was none other than the 5th generation vigneron, Stéphane Dupuch, himself. He is a burly man, but with a youthful, happy face and is as quick to tell a joke as he is to give an opinion on French wine. The winery proper was originally built in the 14th century and owned by monks. The vineyards are situated on chalky-clay soils, perfect for their production of 50:50 red and white wines. Stéphane believes that their land and climate is best suited for Merlot-based blends, but definitely not for Cabernet Franc, which is commonly paired with Merlot in such blends. He compares the three white varietals in their Entre-Deux-Mers whites to the best parts of a woman: “Sauvignon [Blanc] is body, Sémillon is the dress and Muscadelle is the makeup.” His whites were crisp and filled with citrus and minerality. His Clairet was also a big hit, featuring racy acidity, a light to medium body and quite the juicy cherry and raspberry berry flavors, with virtually no tannins. Clairet (not the traditional “claret”) can be compared to a fuller and bigger Rosé, or “Rosé on steroids”, as Rob aptly describes them.
After a visit with a boarder’s deer and the estate parrot and pooch, we headed off for to a Chateau for which I hold great excitement. Château Bonnet, while the largest single estate in Bordeaux, has always been a favorite house of mine for wines that feature exceptional affordable value for their quality. It is just above the small commune of Grézillac and features some 300 hectares of vineyards. We were greeted by one of the luminaries of Bordeaux, André Lurton. Among many incredible accomplishments during his fascinating life, Lurton helped form the Entre-Deux-Mers and Pessac-Léognan AOCs, is the 40-year mayor of Grézillac and acted as director of the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB) for two separate terms. Lurton looks and is surprisingly young for someone that has lived in the same room in which he was born for some 86 years!
Following a brief tour around the winery by Lurton, we were treated to an estate tasting within the very cool enclosed winter garden of the Château. The wines were very vibrant, featuring medium bodies and great, food-centric acidity in the entire line, covering white, rosé, clairet and red. Lunch was held in the main dining hall of the Château, featuring a fascinating collection of artwork collected over the decades and plenty of well constructed, balanced wines from Bonnet. Besides the delish fare, the real treat of the lunch was a secretive Lurton bringing out a decanted 1982 Bonnet Bordeaux AOC that featured dried fruit and herbs of black cherry, portabella mushrooms, tobacco and anise and completely altered my understanding of this entry-level AOC: these wines can age.
Our last chateau of the day had an air of Great Expectations to it, with the chateau proper completely empty inside, yet looking somewhat well-kept on the outside. The winery however, was all modern, with beautiful stonework. Château des Laurets is very unusual in that it’s very large 150 hectare estate (90 under vine) actually spans two different appellations and is still the largest within the prestigious Saint-Émilion, Puisseguin-Saint-Émilion and Montagne-Saint-Émilion. The estate is very old (built 1860), but has recently been purchased by the by Benjamin & Ariane Rothschild in 2003 with the intent to gradually restore the estate back to an elite status. We were greeted by winemaker Fabrice Bandiera and given a tour of the newly constructed and restored winery. He was interesting in that he was one of the most progressive winemakers that we were to meet on our trip, even endorsing the use of such new technologies as staves and wood chips, if needed, in moderation. The wines here were pretty impressive, particularly the flagship 2004 Les Laurets, that featured a luscious nose and palate of menthol, graphite, wet earth, and very dark chocolate with deep black fruit. It had phenomenal balance and it’s bit unusual for France, made up of 100& Merlot.
Our final stop of this brilliant first full day in Bordeaux was in what I now consider to be the most beautiful hamlet that I’ve ever had the fortune to visit. Saint-Émilion proper was almost devastatingly beautiful, with it’s ancient cobblestone streets, all stone buildings and the weather that alternated between sunlight, short heavy showers and floating clouds and rainbows…yes, and that was only in the first 2 hours there! We only had a short time to tour the town, unfortunately, plus enjoy our Crémant de Bordeaux apéritif. Indeed, during a delightful dinner at L’Envers du Décor with Stéphane Derenoncourt collaborator Frédéric Massie, I heard so much about its monolithic church, carved from a single block of limestone cliff-face that I excused myself and sprinted down the hill to check it out mid-meal.
Happily exhausted by the end of our long meal, we piled back into the shuttle for a very late trip back to our Normandie homestead and some welcome relaxation. Our first full day was complete with full stomachs and full minds of many memories.
All of the wines from this trip will/are tagged with “LWB2010BDX” and my photos and HD videos can be found by day (Day 1, Day 2 for instance) and are also all tagged with “LWB2010BDX” on my Flickr. My post can be found here for Day 1. Enjoy Bordeaux also has a bunch of fantastic photos at their own Flickr and a great Day 2 recap. Additionally, fellow ‘Buff Rob Moshein has his own slammin’ recap of both Day 1 and Day 2. All of our tweets used the hashtag #LeWineBuff. Lastly, you can find the documentary short of the footage taken during our trip, “Meet Le Wine Buffs“, has now launched! You can find it, as well as all of our 100 Days of Today’s Bordeaux on the Bordeaux Wine Vimeo channel.
I will continue to upload the wines as I write these recaps and then compile all of the links in one final post for this series about Le Wine Buff in Bordeaux. Santé!
September 23, 2010
[…] Le Wine Buff in France, Bordeaux Day 2 […]
September 25, 2010
[…] Vinopanion | Blog | Le Wine Buff in France, Bordeaux Day 2 […]
November 17, 2010
[…] Facebook page launching 11/15/10 (where you currently can see the awesome documentary short of our BDX trip in June), the prize is flippin’ awesome and you can get some of the gist by checking out my personal […]
November 18, 2010
[…] of France, particularly Bordeaux. Here in the ‘06 Cab I found plenty of similarities from my time in Bordeaux previously during the summer, particularly those wines in the Right Bank, despite its varietal. […]
December 9, 2010
I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was pretty good. Cheers!
January 10, 2011
[…] involved in a lot of great Bordeaux-centric wine activities over the last 1+ years, including a truly spectacular trip to Bordeaux this past […]
January 13, 2011
Great article. Waiting for more.
February 14, 2011
i’ve checked this site a few times now and i have to say that i find it quite good actually. it’ll be nice to read more in the future! =)
March 28, 2011
[…] and their Chateaux, all across the greater appellation. Much of this belief was built during our visit to Bordeaux last summer. This event promises to be “a private, networking event recognizing the wine […]
May 12, 2011
Could I use parts of that article for my own Blog?
I would backlink you of course (:
best wishes from Germany!
May 20, 2011
Hello there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it’s really informative. I am going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future. Numerous people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!
June 7, 2011
Heya, Thank you just for that brilliant post! All the best,
September 19, 2011
Nice weblog. All posts have a process to learn. Your hard work is very good and i enjoy you and wanting for some more informative posts.
October 9, 2011
Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the article. I’ll certainly return. Old Tavern
October 18, 2011
[…]very few websites that happen to be detailed below, from our point of view are undoubtedly well worth checking out[…]……
[…]Here is a Great Blog You Might Find Interesting that we Encourage You[…]……
October 23, 2011
Hmm it looks like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any recommendations for inexperienced blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.
October 23, 2011
Thank you for checking out the blog and your comment, Nanette. The best advice I can give you is to stay true to yourself, allow yourself to learn and make mistakes writing about and trying wine and just produce as much quality content as your time allows. Cheers!
October 27, 2011
Awesome Post. You do a good job. Thanks!
December 13, 2011
[…]Sites of interest we have a link to[…]………
December 19, 2011
The best website………
[…]here are some links to sites that we link to because we think they are worth visiting[…]………
December 21, 2011
[…]Sites of interest we have a link to[…]………
December 31, 2011
Top Blogger Post Here…
This is certainly a top blog stories I have looked at this week….
Comments are closed.