My involvement with the trip goes back to May 2014 and Burgundy (all renditions are linked up below) but The Trip as an entity actually goes back to Bordeaux and that is where we went in 2022. None of us would ever have thought when we departed from the Germany trip in 2019 that it would be three years before we went again! As it happens this was exclusively a right bank trip – I must at this stage say a big thank you to Mr Magnum for his invaluable input and connections – it simply would not have been the trip it was without him. Our number was nine – just the good doctor sadly missing out.
So to the matter at hand. The format was the traditional one, out Thursday morning and back Sunday morning.
On the flight, as is traditional we performed our usual Champagne brunch tasting – served in more than adequate Christoffel glasses:
Krug 1998 – toasted and so drinkable, richer Pinot year and is shows – strong start.
Bollinger PN VZ 15 – an accidental piece of co-ordination saw us continue in a Pinot Noir phase with the first and second releases of Bollinger’s PN VZ wines. This 2015 toasty and good with a saline core.
Bollinger PN VZ 16 – the 2016 was crisper, an adolescent but a polite one – much promise to come.
A very acceptable way to start. On landing we were quickly onto the coach (sadly this driver was only with us one day – that’s another story) and on the way to…Les Carmes Haut-Brion
No estate has seen more of the rise through the ranks in the last decade than LCHB! We had a super trip around with Alice Leuret – Guillaume Pouthier – sadly away. We tasted through a bottled vintage of each wine and then the soon to be released (at the time) 2021.
Le C de Carmes Haut-Brion 2019 – absolutely delicious, love this, rich yet tender and fresh.
Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2017 – THE vintage of LCHB to drink now – use of stems giving superb freshness.
Le C de Carmes Haut-Brion 2021 – one of the only unfinished wines of the trip – fresh and elegant
Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2021 – a beauty of more classical proportions!
A really great post flight and pre-lunch tasting at this hot property! And with that we were on to lunch at a restaurant I had always heard of my never been to and very much recommended by the aforementioned Alice.
We immediately slipped into one of our favourite wine trip tactics of looking to other regions than the one we were in – it was also a nicely warm day so white and red Burgundy seemed sensible – the list is good here, the team attentive and fun, the food just what one wants.
Chassagne-Montrachet 2015, Domaine Ramonet MAG – chosen in magnum so that a bit of time was “bought” for the other wines to be picked and also a good size for nine people! A little of that trademark stem ginger you get with Ramonet and a saline kick – delicious.
Montagny 2015, Leroy – hard to look past this as a way to have a Leroy – nice, fleshy and ripely textured but a shade mute, the Ramonet was tough to follow. And, so to red….
Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Clos Sorbe 2010, Domaine Francois Feuillet – I didn’t, and still don’t, know this producer but the wine was good if a tad skinny for a 2010.
Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru Les Suchots 2012, Arnoux-Lachaux – A wine from the pre-Charles era but a very good vineyard. There was a nicely sweet decay to the fruit here but no lack of focus. A wine going from 3rd to 4th gear.
Chambolle-Musigny 2017, Hudelot-Noellat – I love 2017s as a rule and this was good, simple but refreshing and moreish.
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Fontenys 2015, Domaine Jospeh Roty – I was delighted to spot this as I am a big Roty fan and especially from the warmer vintages it was really good, quite fore-square as Gevrey should be. So a fast start to the trip – 13 wines down and not even mid-afternoon. We set of for a visit in Pomerol en route to its neighbour, St.Emilion.
Edouard Labruyere owner of a number of properties – Domaine Labruyere, Domaine Jacques Prieur, Champagne Labruyere and Chateau Rouget was waiting for us at the last named. Rouget sits a little off the radar which is totally undeserved. His family took over in 2008 and have been evolving the parcel by parcel vinification and also use of stems – a link between our first two visits. Edouard is very engaging and never dull to listen to – always very open about the wines and changes that have been made.
Rouget 2021 – The baby, still in barrel, great freshness and quite some texture for a vintage where that was tricky.
Rouget 2020 – Pungent and rich with berry fruits and great depth
Rouget 2019 – Smooth and hedonistic with lovely fruit and an outgoing personality.
Rouget 2018 – This is a rich and decadent wine from a worm vintage – the sort of vintage that the Bordelais dreamed of in the 60s/70s & 80s.
Rouget 2017 – Soft and good, freshness and openness, the young vintage to drink now.
Rouget 2009 – From a different style – opulent not quite with the definition of the others but good and ready now.
As we moved out to the vineyard in the late afternoon sun the perfect accompaniment was a glass of Champagne JM Labruyere Page Blanche Grand Cru NV – this is a joy focused but generous and with a great length, a perfect recalibration after the youthful reds. Thank you Edouard.
Now before re-meeting for dinner we divided into to two camps to drop bags and try not to have a nap (never sensible on the trip) the other team I believe had a bottle or two of Minuty Rose 2020 in their garden. The plan was then to meet with one of Bordeaux great dynasties – The Moueix and in this case with Edouard and Kelley Moueix. Edouard is CEO of Ets JP Moueix and resides at Belair-Monange (CBM).
But, before settling into a typically generous and amusing evening at Edouard and Kelley’s table we were given a tour – no photos – of the new and now (May 2023) very nearly finished Belair-Monange winery. It is quite something if you find yourself in St.Emilion it is a must see. Still quite warm we were delighted to be offered a Glass of Pol Roger 2012 from Magnum when back at E & K’s. A joyous vintage and a great house – Pol Roger delivers, so popular was it that a bottle of Pol Roger NV was supplemented to keep the thirsty masses going!
We were in for quite feast of food, wine and conversation. The dinner wines were very generous:
Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2006, Domaine Bonneau du Martray from magnum – I adore this wine for all sorts of biased reasons but it is in a vintage like 2006 that the quality really shows – some producers struggles in a warm vintage this retains both a laser like freshness and a Grand Cru texture at the same time – splendid. But we were on the right bank and it was red time so the reds all came from Pomerol and St.Emilion.
Belair-Monange 2010 – The third vintage of Belair and the second to last before the integration of the former Ch.Magdelaine. this is delicious now, medium in weight with lovely texture and good mellowing fruit.
La Fleur-Petrus 2012 – Stunning – the right bankers in 2012 are a joy and this amongst the very best of them, lush, medium plus body just unctuous and so dam drinkable. Anyone (nobody!!) who didn’t enjoy this may as well have gone home!
Trotanoy 2005 – Where 2012 is a plush hedonistic vintage the 2005s are typically stricter, more compressed and more serious, this played to that BVUT was also giving more and more in the glass – a serious wine that suits Trotanoy’s aristocratic class.
La Fleur-Petrus 1998 from Magnum – Just a start of a wine, perfect 7or 8 years ago and perfect in another 10+ so ready, open and balanced.
Trotanoy 1990 from Magnum – This is a wine I have had more times than I deserve to have, it has a unique texture and depth but somehow manages to be relaxed about it.
What an evening, a delightful time with anecdotes a plenty and a cracking atmosphere. We left Edouard and Kelley (to whom a million thanks) and divided into our households as the first day drew to a close, I say close…I am sure both houses had a glass or two to follow, ours were:
Haut Brion 1993 – medium minus in body but nicely elegant.
Hermannshohle GG 2018, Donnhoff – superb, a case of the vintage (warm) adding generosity to a young wine
…and with that a very good first day was over!
We had four appointments lined up and a lunch in the middle so, trip wise, this was pretty high tempo. Post a (small) breakfast – we collected the other house en route to Vieux Chateau Certan an estate I had never visited. We were met by Guillaume Thienpont and taken straight to the vineyards (always a good sign!). A few stats – VCC is 14 hectares, 65% Merlot, 30% Cab Franc & 5% Cab Sauv with typically 2/3rds going into the 1st wine and 1/3rd into the second (Gravette de Certan). After coming inside we went around the facilities before a tasting.
VCC 2021 – fresh with crunchy red fruits (possibly the Cab Franc dominating) a great length and nicely nervous texture.
VCC 2014 – A little like the 2017s the 2014s are a vintage to appreciate early and certainly earlier than 15/16/18/19 etc. This was great, red fruits again, good depth and a silken texture.
VCC 2015 – deeper, darker and more brooding with a savoury dimension, terrific to taste now but a wine to try and leave, so much compressed elegant power.
The question that followed the tasting was answered almost before it had ended – “shall we pop over to Le Pin?” As you leave the gates of VCC you are about the length of a long par 5 away from the modernity of Le Pin.
Le Pin 2021 – cranberry colour, focused and ethereal with terrific lift but an underlayer of seriousness – quite something for a 2021
Le Pin 2011 – Seductive, gorgeous, iodine and a seductive silky minerality. 2011 was tricky for the opposite reasons of 2021 – warm but very dry. This is a very good example.
What a great visit and incredibly generous of Guillaume – thank you.
From Pomerol we now headed to one of the “must visits” of St.Emilion – Tertre-Roteboeuf
At “TRB“ we were met by Louis “Lou-Lou” Mitjavile who is not only involved here but has his own project at Aurage (Castillon) and consults for a number of people. This was very kind of Lou-Lou as he had only just had a shoulder operation and was on rather heavy painkillers.
Aurage 2016 – the estate started in 2007 and the wines have been a joy but there was yet another step up in 2016 – this is extravagant and rich with a mocha note and loads of fruit.
Roc de Cambes 2003 – The “hunter killer” of blind tastings – this estate started under Mitjavile control in 1988 and this 2003 is a marvel – fresh red fruit and literally no signs of the heat of the season!
TRB 2006 – Boom! Drink now or in 20years – stunning.
Aurage 2020 – Quite decadent but with a saturated mid palate and uber fine tannins.
Domaine de Cambes 2020 – From the vines below the gates on the Roc de Cambes estate – good crunch of dark fruit, crimson.
Roc de Cambes 2020 – What a wine, one of the best ever RdC’s and that’s saying something, power worn lightly.
TRB 2020 – This will be gorgeous at age 10 and will outlive me I imagine. power but power from precise degraded fruit. Layer on layer.
TRB 2021 – This quality (close to the 2020) is a tricky vintage – staggering.
With some desire for lunch starting to emerge we had one last morning visit and not far to travel – just a small distance to the sub-district of St.Christophe des Bardes and Peter Sisseck’s estate – Rocheyron. Mathieu Raveraud the Chef de Cave and much more met us and took us through a triumvirate of recent vintages. The estate having started under Peter in 2010 the early vintages were before he could really get at the vineyard in terms of making changes – the 2012 is delicious but there is then a clear step up from 2016 as the early vineyard work took time to materialise.
Rocheyron 2021 – crunch of red fruit and a good texture/body. a chalky moreishness coming from the old vine Cab Franc parcels.
Rocheyron 2020 – about a month before bottling this shows elegance and power in equal measure but not with out the freshness the soils provide.
Rocheyron 2016 – starting to drink well now, resolved structure and will repay decanting. Succulent darker fruits.
Right – lunch, we headed to CAFFE CUISINE @ Branne a terrific table in the shaded garden, lots of ice buckets, splendid staff and no appointment to be at before 4pm. The food was substantial and fortifying! We mixed a few bottles we had taken with those from the list.
Billecart-Salmon NV MAG – we slightly trudged out way through this – the acidity slightly making us need food more and more – a good magnum just timed badly!
Having not had any white Bordeaux yet it was certainly time but we didn’t do the obvious, stayed right bank with the Virginie de Valandraud Blanc 2018 & Chateau Grand Village Blanc 2019 – both delivered nice elegant fruit and freshness the latter from the slightly better 2019 vintage and with the Lafleur winemaking just shading it!
Chateau Belair 1998 from magnum – with the food arriving this was just the job, degraded and earthy with and old school funk and richness working well.
VCC 2004 from magnum – this was super youthful and a delight at the same time, silky and suave with oodles to come
Vega-Sicilia Unico 2005 – another classic wine trip wine. With the fat of the beef cutting through this was terrific.
Le Dome 2011 – a look forward to the next day. This was well priced, a good nervous edge that gave freshness, ready now.
Sociando Mallet 2010 – almost our very first venture to the left bank, dark fruit and masculine yet resolved and balanced. I cant remember who spotted it but well done!
Great lunch – if you get the chance go – only about 10 minute drive from St.Emilion. And St.Emilion is exactly where we were headed back to for our last visit then a quick shower the aperitif and dinner.
Clos Saint Martin is both one of the smallest of all St.Emilion properties but also one of its best and one of my favourites. In many ways it is the epitome of IYKYK in Bordeaux…minute and surrounded by estates of the highest quality and run by Sophie Fourcade for whom it is also home. There is no second wine – the entire production rarely reaches 20 barrels, a small number of amphorae are used.
Clos Saint Martin 2019 – Juicy, rich and sweetly fruited with darker compote fruits and a lift of acidity to match the body, a wine of real expression and drive.
Clos Saint Martin 2018 – Fuller is anything than the 2019, rich and darker so but again with a lively core, best left now for 5-7 years and re-visited – a treat!
Sophie then kindly gave us a glass of Delamotte Brut NV – known well to the team as afternoon became evening at the stunning site look down on the bells of Angelus…thank you Sophie!
To start the evening we were on the upper terrace overlooking the glories of St.Emilion as his Lordship lit another cigar!
Salon 2004 – A trip fav, last sampled together by the side of a road, in an industrial estate just outside San Sebastian – oh the glamour! Open and lovely.
Dom Perignon 1998 – richer, a pinot year as mentioned at the top of this report, biscuity.
Pol Roger 2012 – for academic purposes it was thought wise to have the bottle of the wine we have the previous night for magnum – splendid!
Forified for the short but steep walk to dinner at Enver de Decor – an institution once again in St.Emilion, a good list (though best in Rhone, Loire and Alsace for value) and proper bistro food done well – great frites. Nice evening that it was we were outdoors in the shadow of the Cathedral. we took a few things and bought others.
Pur Sang 2018, Dageneau from magnum – a cracking choice – different from all the other wines and great after champagne as it changes the focus. Generous and waxily textured.
Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2014, Domaine Leflaive – back to classicism, these were on electric form the drive of 2014 being complemented by the masculine shoulders of Batard. Joyous and better and better in the glass.
Conseillante 1996 – a top right bank property in a top left bank vintage, this is resolved and fully ready now, but no rush, silky and mid weight.
Latour 1998 from magnum – the reverse of the above here very top left bank property in a very right bank vintage but the class shows through in spades helped by the format. A classy savoury edge to a classic Pauillac.
Monbousquet 2012 – A change in pace and a wine I don’t know well but a good merlot vintage and good body, nicely judged.
Mas de Daumas Gassac 2017 – I spotted this and couldn’t resist a wine with a bit of a cult following that’s never quite taken off, very good and ok at this young stage because of the freshness of the vintage.
Decision was taken to return to the terrace:
Grandes Murailles 1982 from a magnum is a wine that comes from a very small plot that as of 2022 is now a part of Clos Fourtet – therefore the 2021 was the last vintage. This is a lovely fully mature, degraded St.Emilion.
La Grave a Pomerol 2009 from magnum – an absolute gem of a magnum wine so silken and smooth, sweet and mid weight – you just can’t have enough of this.
Chateaunneuf-du-Pape 2011, Charvin – we visited Laurent Charvin on a Saturday morning back in 2016 and he gave us nearly two hours of his time – a charming chap with a dry sense of humour and a serious winemaker – look out for this and or the Cotes Du Rhone – a pair of gems!
Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2000, Domaine Rousseau – well, every long day should end with a Rousseau – perfect to drink now, my note simply says “so poised”…
With that Friday was done…
In so many ways the Saturday is the crucial day. We woke a little jaded, it having been amongst our heavier Fridays. Fortunately the trip to see Le Dome was a short one. We had a great look around the new Lord Norman Foster designed chai and were then treated to a good tasting, all very well and generously presented for us on a Saturday morning.
It was a full range of the Maltus wines:
Teyssier 2021 – good wine, fresh and moreish
LaForge 2021 – I enjoyed this, easier and brighter than the Teyssier.
Vieux Chateau Mazerat 2021 – a lovely surprise, not a wine i know well
Le Dome 2021 – a shade muted but all the ingredients in abundance, great promise.
Le Nardin Blanc 2021 – Briney and good, very enjoyable.
Vieux Chateau Mazerat 2015 – as with the 2021 a good good wine, showing well and just hitting it’s stride
Le Dome 2015 – A nicely coiled spring here, lovely intensity.
Pitray 2020 – a bottle of potentially very great value for money, juicy.
Pitray “Les Prairies” 2020 – A small step up on the above but also very good, more weight
Le Dome 2016 – such a good vintage – may be just edging the 2015 for all-round suavity.
An impressive place and a cracking tasting.
With that we headed as far into the center of Bordeaux as we had been since arriving and then up to the Saint James. Great view and really nice team of people. Mr Magnum had done some pre-negotiation and puts some “chips on the table” in the way of some bottles ordered just to show our intent. We were to enjoy our Champagne outside over looking Bordeaux and revving up for the joys ahead.
Assortment of 3 canapés
Champi « bordelais » beurre blanc & lemon & oxalys
Celeriac – eel & fresh leaves & tarragon
Veal – celtuce lettuce & hay milk & concentrate juice
Apples – Pineau des Charentes & minty flavours
Chocolate – Parsley & biscuit
Sleeves metaphorically rolled up we were under starters orders:
Champagne Brut Nature Blanc “Starck”, Louis Roederer from magnum was the Champagne mentioned above drinking well and getting the taste buds going. The fact that the chai at Les Carmes Haut-Brion had been designed by Philip Starck meant that there was a real symetry to the trip!
From here the format went to pairs of whites and a joy it was – Rhone, then Burgundy and then Loire. I have to say that Rhone whites are something I take more and more interest in and enjoyment from:
Chateaunneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2018, St Prefert & Condrieu Coteau de Vernon 2018, Vernay could not be split on quality, only on style and fruit type, the CNDP is an allrounder with texture and drive but no lack of richness. The Condrieu more extrovert and bold.
Then to Burgundy and Bourgogne Blanc 2016, Domaine Coche-Dury alongside Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 2016, Domaine Francois Carillon – in a classic appellation vs producer battle. The Coche had the drive and laser focus the Carillon more open and round.
Now was the turn of the Loire with Sancerre La Grand Cote 2014, Pascal Cotat playing against/alongside Sancerre Clos La Neore 2014, Vatan. The latter so exciting Dusty that he bought an vertical of the list to taste another time. The Cotat has in richness and openness what the Vatan has in drive so for me honours even.
Now to the reds. Not such in pairs as just an onslaught – Boycey at one stage declaring “there’s wine everywhere!”
Pichon Baron 2005 – we are in Bordeaux so start there – the first of three 2005 Bordeaux. I really like Baron, a wine of intesity and correctness this was very 2005 and very Pauillac but showing enough class.
Chambolle-Musigny 2010, G.Barthod – absolutely delicious, focus and drive with a generosity of red back pinot fruit, classy.
Latricieres-Chambertin Grand Cru 2012, Domaine Trapet – I love the 2012s the smallness of the crop giving a cracking intensity and compressed unctuousness – this is a delight, power and poise.
Saumur-Champigny 2005, Clos Rougeard – I think my very first Clos Rougeard red – some crunch but a totally resolved moreishness with a combines intensity but airiness at the same time.
Haut Brion 2005 – This was on supreme form, long, very long and whilst in adolescence just so very fine tuned. If you own it be excited.
Chateaunneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Marie Beurer 1998, Henri Bonneau – we came back from our Rhone trip more than a little obsessed with Henri Bonneau and the maturity and succulent brilliance of the wines, so dense yet so lifted. This was delicious.
Chateaunneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Celestins 1995, Henri Bonneau – arguably his very best wine but not quite the standard of vintage of the 1998 and actually the bottle seemed a little exhausted.
Saumur-Champigny “Les Poyeux” 2008, Clos Rougeard – as night follows day – my second Clos Rougeard red and a cooler vintage, a slightly vegetal tang – so fascinating and that’s not feint praise.
Tertre Roteboeuf 1991 – is there any other wine maker of estate that makes better wines in bad (actually lets not muck about – disastrous) vintages as François Mitjavile – well I don’t think so and whilst this is best drunk it is insane for a Bordeaux 1991.
Mouton Rothschild 1982 – May be the antithesis of TRB 1991 – Mouton was a happy vintage made in abundance, a wine everyone must try.
Spatlese Pittermannchen, Diel – gutted to say I missed the vintage here. Yet another wine trip throw back. My not simply says “Loved it!”
Yquem 2001 – a freak of a wine, great before bottling and will be so in 40 years time and longer. Almost becoming too rich for me but that is just me!
La Fleur-Petrus 1989 – A banger of a vintage especially on the right bank, fully mature if you are wanting ripe fruit.
La Mission Haut-Brion 2005 – Very unhelpfully I just have three ticks on my note pad but three is the max when I get to the “three tick stage”.
Salon 1997 – a great Salon from what was very much a Chardonnay year, have had it several times and is is a joy, focused, saline but with yellow and white fruit – never closed down and never looks like it will.
One of the tasks of the lunch is to establish exactly where we want t go the following year – we achieved this – it was to be the Loire but then the geography got in the way! So Burgundy it will be in 2023.
Earlier in the piece I think I alluded to the fact that our driver on Friday/Saturday wasn’t the most engaging of chaps. Well we went further into his bad books here as somehow a member of the orange family – Satsuma or Clementine I think, made it off the lunch table and into the van. When a game of catch became too dull for one of our number said citrus fruit hit the windscreen and the driver went bonkers…understandably given we were on the rocade.
“In for a penny” we decided to use this moment to tell him we needed to fly from Bergerac the following morning not Bordeaux – it was looking “even money” that he’d turn up at all…
Rather than allow any sleeping at this stage we pressed on back to the upper terrace and then shortly afterwards to a winebar just down the road!
Bandol Rose 2019, Domaine Tempier from magnum – a rose that has featured on the trip before (see Tuscany) and which is almost always better after another 12-24 months – this is so much fun and delicious.
Berncasteler Doctor Riesling Kabinett 2018, Thanisch from magnum – I don’t hide my love of this wine very well – both Thanisch and in particular the Doctor vineyard are superb and this 2018 can be drunk earlier than might usually be suggested – a joy.
Champagne Le Cotet, Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs, Jacques Lassaigne – not a wine I know well but a name that I know is gaining traction and reputation – would love to try again. Notes not being written by this stage.
Hermitage Blanc 2012, Chave – Not since the Friday lunch in the Rhone have we had Hermitage blanc on the trip and never from Chave, richness and precision in a crazy balance.
Chateaunneuf-du-Pape, Domaine de Marcoux – Ok so by now I don’t even have the vintage noted – apologies!
and so to bed…what a day…what a trip…
The Sunday morning is always something of a struggle and no difference this year. The endless waffle of preceding days being over taken buy the realization of returning to a more normal world. Everyone plays their part and makes these such fun – generous bottles and happy menus but as noted at the top Mr Magnum has to have a special mention alongside the splendid Fiscali…Burgundy 2023 – bring it on…