Welcoming a group of four English wine investment professionals to Bordeaux at the commencement of the 2014 Primeur Campaign is a good story to tell. For a couple of the Vin-X team, this was the first time they have had the opportunity to attend the trade tastings at the launch of a new Bordeaux vintage, and we started our week as we mean it to go on!
Having welcomed them to Bordeaux airport at 9:30am, we commenced our campaign 45 minutes later at Château Smith Haut Lafitte. Instead of a morning coffee, they tasted 35 Crus Classés white & red from Pessac-Léognan. Obviously, for the uninitiated this is a really new experience. The wines are not completed, they are at the beginning of the ageing process; sometimes the new barrel is “too present”, sometimes the tannins are not completely melted, sometimes the acidity is not really balanced and sometimes the white shirts are not ready for the Primeur treatment!
But I have to admit the Vin-X EP Team rose to the challenge seriously, professionally and with consciousness. At the end of this first tasting we were finally in agreement on our Top 3:
Pessac Red : Domaine de Chevalier – Château Pape-Clément – Château Smith Haut Lafitte
(special mention for Château Haut-Bergey)
Pessac White: Domaine de Chevalier – Château Pape-Clément – Château Malartic-Lagravière
(special mention for Château Smith Haut Lafitte)
Then, leaving this beautiful estate behind, we headed to Château La Mission Haut-Brion for a private tasting. The impact of this extraordinary estate impressed the team enormously and comments along the lines “of being on a different planet!” were voiced. Which is a bit the case, in a way! Owned by Prince Robert of Luxemburg, everything about la Mission and its sister estate, First Growth Chateau Haut Brion, oozes its heritage, quality and class. We were hosted at an exclusive private tasting and, I think, we too felt like Princes in the moment.
On to the tasting itself, we sampled the complete 2014 production of the châteaux – from Quintus to Haut-Brion, reds and whites. And, we were all shocked by the difference of quality in comparison to the first tasting and the tremendous worldwide known wines. Because we have to value them, we would all agree to say that Château La Mission Haut-Brion red and Château Haut-Brion white were the wines of the day. Their complexity, their balance, their length, their aromas, their finesse and elegance, their purity are the exact representation of this fantastic terroir of Pessac. These wines were just outstanding. I must say I was not surprised, and such a quality is always nice to try!
We finished the day at Château Pape-Clément, because I thought it would be important to show the team what a “Bordeaux mogul” can do with his money and his will. It’s impressive and it impressed!
No doubt the team was fully appreciative of the first day’s itinerary; the opportunity to taste those wines, visit extraordinary chateaux and to participate in the formation of the early reputation of this new vintage: they are a part of it now. And it counts. Yes, we are lucky, and we know it.