First tastes of the first growths

It would have been hugely disappointing if today hadn’t provided fireworks. The 2009 vintage in Bordeaux is being billed as one of the best ever, and we had hourly appointments at some of the world’s most sought-after estates.

Not everything was as (I) had expected. In 2003 the hot summer gave a certain uniformity to many of the wines, and I wondered whether the long days of ripening in 2009 may have given a Californian lushness and sheen this time. That concern has been driven out immediately. Rather, the perfect weather allowed terroir to shine, with winemakers deciding when to pick and at what ripeness.

We tasted three first growths in succession – Chateaux Margaux, Mouton-Rothschild and Lafite, and each expressed their own characters uncannily accurately. Margaux was feminine and elegant, Mouton broad, spicy and exotic, while Lafite gave weight and power. Of our party of three, each preferred one of them over the others.

There’s more to follow, but the day’s exertions and struggling with the French broadband dongle to get this online demands a cold beer.

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