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“Crambe repetita” (cold cabbage warmed up) as Juvenal
wrote. Bordeaux occupies the dark basement in our value-
for-money index. For years we have been spun a myth.
Hype is the name of the game with every vintage at the
time promising to be the vintage of the century with
specious rumours of shortages and the wines being
perceived as commodities to be broked rather than drunk.
Such tactics might conceivably be excused if the wines
were divine, but they are generally not, and it would be
nice if the traditional English seigneurial palate ventured
into the humble French regions in search of greater
“I (Vautrin) propose a little bottlerama of Bordeaux made
doubly illustrious by the name Laffitte…”
He poured out a glass for Eugene and Père Goriot and then
slowly poured out a few drops which he himself tasted…
“Devil take it! It’s corked.”
Thuggish baddy (not so cunningly disguised as waiter):
Would you like your Château Mouton-Rothschild decant
-ed now, sir?”
James Bond: No, I would prefer a claret.
T. B.: Very well, I will fetch you a claret.
Bond: Aha. If you were a real waiter you would know that
Mouton-Rothschild is a claret.
Diamonds Are Forever
Neither mean nor green the Entre-Deux-Mers is a well-balanced wine wherein the grapefruit tanginess of the
Sauvignon is complemented by the more vinous qualities of the Sémillon grape. Ages more than gracefully.
The red Deville is a jolly juicer sans tannin, one for the mumblecrust tendency. It is possible that it may not change
vintage within our life-time. What Eric refers to as lunch-time claret.
CHATEAU DEVILLE, ENTRE-DEUX-MERS
CHATEAU DEVILLE ROUGE, BORDEAUX
Merlot 65%, Cabernet Franc 35%. A selection of the oldest vines in the vineyard. Grapes are hand harvested. Lovely nose of
black fruits and developed herbaceous notes, dark plum and cherry with gravelly freshness and hints of green pepper and
dried herbs, fine and well-integrated tannins.
CHATEAU MAINE MARTIN VIEILLES VIGNES
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“I hardly know wherein philosophy and wine are alike unless it be in this, that the philosophers exchange their ware for money, like the
wine-merchants; some of them with a mixture of water or worse, or giving short measure.”
Walter Pater – Marius The Epicurean
Patrick Carteyron’s Château Penin is extremely supple, exuding sweet blackcurrants, bilberries and nuances of cloves all
plumped up with nice oak. Very highly regarded by the jury of the Guide Hachette. The Grande Selection is a blend of grapes
sourced from 11 hectares of the best gravel and sandy soils on the estate. All the vines are over thirty years old. The blend is
Merlot (90%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%). Yields are kept low, grapes are harvested at maximum ripeness and then
destemmed and fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Eventually the wine is racked into barrels of fine-
grained Allier oak (one third of which are renewed annually) and aged for twelve months with regular oxygenation. Très
CHATEAU PENIN “GRANDE SELECTION”
CHATEAU LAMERY, JACQUES BROUSTET, BORDEAUX /VIN DE FRANCE – Biodynamic
Château Lamery is based in Saint Pierre d’Aurillac (about 10km from Sauternes). The estate is a mere 3 hectares with south-
facing vines on well-drained sandy-clay soils. Since 2006 Jacques abandoned conventional viticulture and vinification to work
naturally – working the soil, plant tisanes and preparations of natural vine products. The vines are aged from 25 to over 70
years planted at 5,200 vines per hectare. After a manual harvest and a strict triage vinification takes place in small cement
vats. Then it is natural all the way to the bottle with wild yeast ferment, zero additives, no topping up, no racking, no fining, no
filtration and no added sulphur. It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec. The wine stays nine
months in casks plus four months in a blending vat. Very beautiful nose, complex and subtle with dried fruit and mineral
tones. Jacques calls it a “vin Autrefois”, a wine from the past, when Bordeaux was elegant.
AUTREMENT DE LAMERY
New Wine For Old! New Wine For Old! There’s a lot of dust on that bottle. So bad for asthma. And look at the label – so faded. You can
hardly read H**T BR**N – could be anything. Wouldn’t you like a clean bottle with a glossy label and a funny, happy name? I have one
with hopping kangaroos. Of course, you would. Let’s see the date. 1961? Oh my God, it’s over forty years past its sell-by date. Listen, I
give you a bottle with a new sell-by date – see, NV, that means you drink it any time forever you know what I mean? On my mother’s
life! First growth? Schmirst growth. That’s one out of five, madame. No, cork is cheap – look it floats like a witch, trust me – get yourself
screwcap, I give you no-charge rust-free guarantee...
GRAVES DE VAYRE
CHATEAU TOULOUZE METAIRIE
Several communes bordering Saint-Emilion are permitted to put their name on their wine labels along with that of
their famous neighbour. Lussac is one of these. The vineyard’s roots and history go back to the 14
century where it
belonged to the Cistercian monastery of Faise and it takes its name from the 100 years’ war.
At last something to shout about – highly potable Bordeaux from Maison Dubard (but you should taste their
The Cadet is the junior version, dark, chunky with good grip, the Claymore has that attractive old-pine-in-warm-earth
mellow glow to the fruit. Both senior and junior are 80% Merlot with an equal split of the two Cabernets. The terroir
is sandy and also rich in iron. Yields are kept reasonably low (less than 50hl/ha) with a green harvest and a selection
of grapes at harvest time. Each grape variety is vinified separately at controlled temperatures. The Cadet would go
well with terrines and smoked ham, the estate wine with red meat, game and cheese and both should be decanted
CADET DU CHATEAU CLAYMORE
CHATEAU LA CLAYMORE
CHATEAU LA CLAYMORE – ½ bottle
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Said to test the skills of wine waiters under the most extreme conditions, the challenge is divided into six stages. To the victor the spoils, a
luxuriant chest hair wig and a TV series involving lots of shouting at the camera, to the losers a jeroboam of Liebfraumilch.
The candidates will be expected to excel in the following disciplines:
“The Quick Pour”. “Roaderer (sic) Rollerblading” amongst an obstacle course of 15 tables pulling champagne corks out with their teeth,
singing the lyrics to the Carpenter’s Top of the World whilst dispensing fizz to all and sundry – preferably in glasses.
Creating the ultimate gangsta champagne cocktail. Judging this section will be Dom Dom Ru, MC Mumm, L. Pee, Snoop Salon Salon
and the Wu-Taittinger Clan. Passing the yak and Cristal in a single glass is one of the mandatory disciplines. Points will be deducted if
straws and multi-coloured parasols are omitted. All cocktails must be made with ice (diamonds) rather than ice (frozen water).
The chest-beating Château Latour challenge. Sommeliers will each be asked to sell a bottle of the Pauillac 1
growth to a table of
unwilling customers. If they succeed they must pound their pectoral muscles with their fists and ululate for precisely three minutes and 45
Serving Michael Winner a bottle of wine in a hot air balloon. The winner (no pun intended) is the sommelier who allows the balloon to
reach the greatest height before hurling the auteur of Deathwish 4 out of the aforementioned dirigible. Calm down, my dear, it’s only a
The pronunciation test. Finalists will be tested on their ability to make Merlot sound as close to a three syllable word or Lloyd Grossman
swallowing a giant octopus.
Food and wine matching to a menu devised by Ferran Adria’s gothic imagination*
Emulsion of angels’ wings
Muttering oysters, seaweed fritters, ocean essence
Mock parrot, buried treasure, devils’ islands, edible sand
Existential chocolate ideas
*Extra marks will be awarded in a half-assed fashion.
Located within the appellation of St Emilion this Chateau produces wine from vines with an average age of 35 years from a
mixture of sand and clay soils with a substratum of iron.
Crafted from 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc the wine undergoes 8-12 months elevage in cement tanks before being
In the glass the wine presents a garnet colour and slightly paler rim. On the palate there are dark fruits, plums and hints of
liquorice, tar and spice with a finish of lead pencil shavings. The impressive length and complexity of this wine combined with
smooth tannins makes this an ideal partner to grilled meat dishes.
VIEUX CHATEAU CROS LAMARZELLE
SAINT-EMILION GRAND CRU
Whilst this lacks some of the immediate charms of the Lalande–de-Pomerols (q.v.) this Saint-Emilion has a youthful
bite, a palate-pummelling grippiness of a swiftly flipped rare fillet of steak. 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc
from an 8-hectare vineyard located so adjacent to the borders of Pomerol that you could virtually lean across the
fence and pick the grapes of Château L’Evangile (perhaps they do). The terrain is composed of light gravels and old
sands. Green harvesting, leaf and grape thinning is followed by meticulous hand selection of grapes according to
mouth; the finish is complex, elegant and mineral
Babette’s Feast, or, more conventionally, entrecote béarnaise.
CHATEAU LA CROIX CHANTECAILLE
CHATEAU LA CROIX CHANTECAILLE – ½ bottle
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Columbo: I want you to teach me everything you know.
Wine Expert: It took me forty years to acquire my expertise.
Columbo: Well, what can you do in an hour and a half?
Wine Expert: Oh, just the very basics.
Columbo: Let’s start with this–How can you tell a good wine from an average wine?
Wine Expert: By the price.
Any Port In A Storm
SAINT-EMILION GRAND CRU CLASSE
The vineyards of Larmande lie a little over one kilometre to the north of the town of St-Emilion itself, and are planted on a
variety of terroirs, principally (accounting for 70% of the vines) on ancient sandy soils as is typical of much of the right bank,
but with some more desirable but admittedly smaller zones of clay with flint (15% of the total) and clay with limestone. The
blend is typically 60% Merlot, 35% Cab Franc and 5% Cab Sauvignon. Vineyard practices are sound with ploughing to
reduce weeds rather than herbicides, bunch-thinning and finical manual harvesting. Delicious nutty oak here, with smoky
nuances, and plenty of deep, fruit cakey, plummy fruit. Nice flesh on the palate, supple and well composed, with a gentle
texture and a slightly nutty finish.
Château des Annereaux is presently owned by the Milhades, a Bordelais family known for their uncompromising devotion to
the production of fine wine and unwavering commitment to the viticultural restoration of historical Bordeaux estates. Critics
consider Château des Annereaux to be this family’s crowning achievement. No time in its more than five centuries of
continuous production has Château des Annereaux produced better wine than it does today, prompting Decanter to call this
property, “an essential discovery for any claret lover”.
Situated on the plateau near Lalande in the heart of the appellation, Château des Annereaux produces one of the region’s
longest lived wines. Here, the gravel and clay soils favour Merlot, and the 55-acre vineyard is planted primarily to that
variety, with the balance consisting of lush, fragrant Cabernet Franc. Vinification is totally traditional, beginning with hand-
harvesting and a long maceration (time the fermenting must spends on the skins). Elevage takes place in small barrels, about
35-50% of which are new each year. The resulting wine is invariably rich and full, and long lasting, developing a creamy
richness with bottle age. As you might expect of a Pomerol satellite this red is plush, opulent and delicious. Supple, fruity and
easy to drink, it would be easy to dismiss this wine as a lovely, round claret for early consumption. However, as a result of
centuries of cultivation at the same site, the presence of natural wild yeasts on the grapes adds elegance as well as complexity
to des Annereaux. Nuances of spice, leather, and chocolate combine with lush fruit and silky tannins to provide depth and
layers of flavour in the wine. Ample airing and further bottle age enhance the wine’s long, lingering finish.
Roast chicken, quail or squab would be perfect pairings with this delicious Bordeaux, as would more traditional fare, like a
crown roast of pork, beef tenderloin or loin lamb chops.
CHATEAU DES ANNEREAUX
CHATEAU DES ANNEREAUX – magnum
“It’s like looking in the eye of a duck and sucking all the fluid from its beak”.
Dylan Moran – Black Books (on drinking a £7000 bottle of claret)
CHATEAU MONREGARD LA CROIX
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It may be said that nothing in the world is charming unless it be achieved at some trouble. If it rained ’64 Léoville – which I regard as the
most divine of nectars – I feel sure I should never raise it to my lips.
MEDOC, CRU BOURGEOIS
According to authorities in Bordeaux, 2002, despite the adverse weather conditions,
will undoubtedly be the vintage of the year. (Wine News Headlines)
MEDOC, CRU BOURGEOIS
Sénéjac is one of the better-known Crus Bourgeois of the Haut-Médoc. Located on deep gravelly soils in the village of Le
Pian, Sénéjac is a 39-hectare property with vines averaging 35 years of age on gravels. Yields are around 45 hl/ha and
harvest is by hand. The wine is fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel vessels, then aged for 12-15 months in
30%-new oak barrels. This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc and is aged in
oak barriques for 18 months. It represents great value for fans of mature claret as it ages so gracefully. A great middleweight
claret, offering a restrained nose of blackcurrant fruit tinged with hints of clove and cigar tobacco. The palate is nicely ripe,
with a liquorice complexity and a smooth texture
HAUT-MEDOC, CRU BOURGEOIS
SAINT-ESTEPHE, CRU BOURGEOIS
Bernard and Francois Estager’s property is situated on the highest point in Saint-Estèphe next to Château Haut-
Marbuzet and Tour de Pez. The terroir is typically limestone-clay. A very hands-on approach in the vineyard includes
green harvesting, leaf and bunch thinning to allow better circulation of air and manual harvest parcel by parcel when
the grapes have reached maturity. The vinification in cement tanks is traditional with a long maceration and daily
pumping over; thereafter the wine is aged in barriques for twelve to eighteen months. The blend is quite unusual with
a high proportion of Cabernet Franc (about 25%) giving compelling fragrance to the wines. As well as meaty dishes
(jugged hare, venison, grilled beef) this would go well with a variety of cheese – camembert and brébis to name but
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Petrus – What is the wine about? Imagine a cathedral lit with every light and line focused on the high altar.
And on the altar, very reverently placed, intensely there, a stave of oak, a punnet of blackcurrants and
the gospel according to Robert Parker.
(With apologies to HG Wells)
An old wine-bibber having been smashed in a railway collision, some wine was poured on his lips to revive him.” Pauillac,
1873,” he murmured and died.
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914),
”The Devil’s Dictionary”, 1911
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