“Taste the Greats of Bordeaux Tour with Ralph Sands”
I’ve just returned from yet another amazing tour of some of the greatest estates in the storied history of Bordeaux with 18 customers, something I have been privileged to do so many times now and sometimes I still have to pinch myself!
After a full week of breakfast every morning, great lunches and dinners at a different Chateau everyday and many great wines I definitely came home a few extra pounds heavier but with a lifetime of memories, so it was all worth it. My customers got a firsthand experience of being in the wine business; it rained all week but it did not dampen our sprits! Here are the highlights; I hope you can join me on my next tour.
Sunday June 12th- All 18 customers arrive on the same plane from Paris. Check in at Hotel Relais Margaux before are welcome dinner at Ch. Cantemerle where Director Philippe Dambrine poured us two famous vintages that mirror each other, 2009 and the stunning 1982!
Monday June 13th- We start with a visit to the King of wines, 1st growth Ch. Latour and tasted the 2008 Forts de Latour and 2004 Ch. Latour. The next visit was right next door to visit the Lion’s and all the 2015 wines from Jean Huber Delong at Ch. Leoville Las Cases. Ch. du Tertre in Margaux was our lunch visit and we tasted the 2015 as well as the sister Chateau Ch. Giscours which is a top selling wine in the 2015 vintage as well as their powerful 2010’s. 2006 du Tertre and 2001 Giscours were delicious at lunch in the Orangerie. Dinner was with two great winemakers at Ch. Pichon Baron; Jean Rene Matignon who has been at the helm at the Baron since 1985 and Pierre Montegut the winemaker at Ch. Suduiraut since 2004. The before dinner tasting of the Baron wines were 2015,2011,2010,2009 and 2008, with dinner we enjoyed 2005,2003, 1981 out of magnum, 1994 Quinta do Noval and the rich and exotic 2005 Ch. Suduiraut. What a night!
Tuesday June 14th- Was our Super 2nd growth day with stops to taste the 2015’s at Ch. Langoa, Leoville Barton and Ch. Montrose before lunch at Ch. Cos d’Estournel. 2013 Cos d’Estournel Blanc was stunning, 2002 Cos was just evolving and 1989 Cos was just fantastic! Dinner at Ducru Beacaillou was cooked by the owner himself, Mr. Bruno Borie! A massive Sheppard’s Pie loaded with 5 different meats and vegetables warmed our tummies while Bruno’s sixes (2006, 1996 and 1986) washed it all down. Before dinner we tasted the incredible 2015 which very well may be the wine of the vintage.
Wednesday June 15th- This was our powerful Pauillac day starting with a visit at the great Lynch Bages. An amazing tour of the new cellar, Baron Phillipe’s private museum as well as the new label museum awaited us at First growth Ch. Mouton Rothschild. We then tasted the superb 2015’s from Ch. d’Armailhac, Ch. Clerc Milon and Mouton. Lunch was at Ch. Clerc Milon where we enjoyed the small production de Rothschild Champagne as an aperitif, the Mouton Blanc, Aile d’Argent, 2005 Ch. Clerc Milon and 1995 Ch. Mouton Rothschild. We finished the afternoon with a quick visit at Ch. Lafite Rothschild and tasted the elegant 2007. Dinner with Alfred Tesseron at Ch. Pontet Canet is always a special experience. He graciously poured 2003 Dom Perignon, 2006, 2003, 1990 and 2009 Ch. Pontet Canet and finished with 50 year old Tesseron Cognac.
Thursday June 16th – We started with Ch. Palmer where winemaker Thomas Duroux poured us 2015 Ch. Palmer (another candidate for wine of the vintage) and by far the tastiest 2nd wine in Bordeaux, Alter Ego de Palmer and 2007 Ch. Palmer. Mary at Ch. Margaux showed us the new cellar and poured us 2007 Ch. Margaux and 2010 Pavillion Blanc. Lunch was in the warehouse at the largest negociant for classified wines in Bordeaux, Joanne. It was a lavish affair starting with a blind tasting of 5 wines, followed by a glass of Roederer Champagne, and lunch wines 2009 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, 2012 Pontet Canet, 2009 Canon La Gaffielier, 2000 Pontet Canet and 2011 Ch. Doisy-Vedrines. Dinner started with a tour of Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte and cocktails with Daniel and Florence Cathiard where we tasted 2010 Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc and 2009 Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge. Dinner was in the tower of the Chateau with 2012 Les Haut de Smith Blanc and 2012 and 2005 Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge.
Friday June 17th – This was our “Sweet Sticky Day” and a good morning glass of 2010 Ch. d’Yquem was a fine start! Ch. Doisy-Vedrines was our next stop; undeniably Sauternes-Barsac finest value and tasted the elegant 2013 and the rich-full-blown 2009. Lunch was at the #1 selling Sauternes Ch. Guiraud where we tasted the dry white Ch. G, 2009 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge and the absolutely phenomenal 2011 Ch. Guiraud! Dinner was at the lovely American owned Ch. Haut Bailly. The owner Mr. Robert Wilmers had just arrived and charmed all of us between delicious sips 2011, 2008 and 2003 Ch. Haut Bailly.
Saturday June 18th – Sunny weather finally greeted us on the right bank where we visited Ch. Clinet in Pomerol and tasted 2013 and 2012. Our lunch visit was at the highest plot of land in St-Emilion and the fantastic terrior of Ch. Troplong Mondot. The 2015 showed huge amounts of exotic, sexy Merlot fruit with flavors of black cherry, chalk and lively acidity. Lunch was at their small but exquisite 1 Star Michelin restaurant “Les Belles Perdrix”. I have sent many customers there and they have all gave me rave reviews so I was very excited to see it for myself. Our hosts Myriam and Xavier were as spectacular as the wines and the food, it was a great pleasure to meet them while sampling the great 2015, 2011, 2009, 2006 and a stunning 1998 with the cheese. A trip to downtown Bordeaux for our final night was also a spectacular way to end the tour. Bernard Magrez and his daughter Cecile were our hosts and we had a private tour of the Magrez Museum that featured a collection of Baccarat Crystal and the exact stand that was featured at the 1867 World’s Fair. Our farewell dinner was across the street at the Magrez fine restaurant, Le Grand Maison and the wines of Ch. Pape Clement. 2007 Pape Clement Blanc and Rouge along with 2010 Ch. Haut Peyraguey finished off this magical week in Bordeaux.
Thank you to all the wonderful people that made it all happen!
Cheers to you! Ralph Sands