Thursday, 27 October 2011

Bordeaux Visit - Day One

I was lucky enough to be invited to Bordeaux the other week by Maisons Marques et Domaines to stay at Pichon Lalande. Our small but perfectly formed team was made up of Mark Bingley, our host and Fine Wine director at MMD Ltd, Joe (Wine buyer for the WSET), Frank (Sommelier at The Ledbury restaurant), Scott (Bar Manager at The Wolseley), Christian (Chef at the Wolseley) and myself (Private Client Sales at Bancroft Wines)

It was a rather early start at Gatwick but after a quick coffee over breakfast in the terminal we were well acquainted and looking forward to two days visiting the MMD Châteaux, getting the latest on the 2011 vintage and enjoying the culinary delights that Bordeaux has to offer!
Our first stop was Château Loudenne in the Médoc, which for many years was owned by the Gilbey family, a well known wine and spirit merchant in London and producer of the gin of the same name.
Loudenne’s vineyards are in an ideal position overlooking the river. With 60 hectares of gravelly ridges that slope gently towards the Gironde estuary, the situation is perfect for grape growing. The vineyards extend virtually to the water’s edge where the only private harbour in the Médoc exists. 48 hectares are planted with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. A further 12 hectares have Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. The soils are predominantly clay-limestone and Garonne gravel. The unique situation is matched by a pretty château painted a distinctive ‘Suffolk’ pink colour.

The château is open to visitors all year round with several rooms, all individually decorated in their own style.  Whilst our delicious lunch was prepared we tasted the following wines, including the Flagship red, Hippocampus, meaning Seahorse.
Château Loudenne Blanc 2009
A rare find in the Médoc, this white is intense on the nose. The palate is lively, well balanced and very supple due to the vinification and ageing on the lees in French oak barrels.

Pink de Loudenne 2009
Pink de Loudenne is a delicate and fine Rosé wine made from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Very appealing raspberry aromas follow onto a fresh palate with a soft red berry fruit and a dry crisp finish.
Château Loudenne 2005
This wine has an expressive, toasted nose with a slight vanilla note. Rich blackcurrants on the palate are balanced with a pleasant freshness.
Château Loudenne 2007
A beautiful deep colour. An intensive and complex nose of red fruits, with toasted and vanilla notes. A beautiful wine with an elegant mouth feel.
Château Loudenne 2008
Powerful on the nose.  Dense black fruits, chocolate and a toasted character on the palate with ripe tannins present on the finish.
Château Loudenne 2009
Intense ripe blueberry fruit on the nose. Plummy and supple on the palate with silky smooth tannins and a long juicy finish.
Hippocampus de Loudenne 2005
The nose is intense, complex and harmonious. Elegant notes of vanilla and toasted aromas with developing raspberries, blackcurrants and liquorice on the palate. Powerful and persistent on the finish with a well balance structure for long term development.

We had a ‘light lunch’ which makes my usual light lunch seem like a simple canapé. The afternoon was spent wandering around the vineyards in the beautiful sunshine before heading back south to Pauillac, our home for the night, Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande.

Mme. Sylvie Cazes was our host for the evening and we had the Château all to ourselves with a beautiful view over Château Talbot, where the horses were out ploughing the vineyards.

As one might expect at a Château owned by Roederer, there was not a shortage of Champagne, so our pre-dinner drinks began with some fine bubbly and culminated with the stunning 1985 Pichon-Lalande.
Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV
Beautifully perfumed with a fine, fresh mousse. Apple and pears on the palate with toast and almonds with a mature richness as a result of blending 105 of reserve wines. Buy now.
Louis Roederer Rosé 2004
One of M
ark’s favourite wines. Silky and perfumed fruit with a rich creamy character that goes on and on. A delicious aperitif!
Château Bernadotte 2006
Medium-bodied, intense blackcurrants with cedar and liquorice. Fine approachable tannins and smooth finish.
Réserve de la Comtesse 2005
Elegant, perfumed with floral and blackberry aromas. Full bodied with beautifully silky tannins and a minerally complexity to the blackberry fruit and cedary undertones.
Château Pichon Lalande 2003
Very concentrated and tight structure. Violets and dense dark fruits on the nose, powerful yet elegant with a long intense finish, which suggests much to come when this opens up in 5+ years.
Château Pichon Lalande 1985
An intense mature nose of over ripe strawberries, cherries and blackcurrants. Supple and elegant on the palate with blackcurrant fruits that melt through the cedar and tobacco. Delicious!

After a long day, with much indulgence, the comfort of the Château was a perfect end to day one of our trip.

Written by Alex Robertson

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