The Commanderie du Bontemps (Medoc, Graves, Sauternes and Barsac) celebrated the Fete de Saint Vincent on 18th January with a lunch in the centre of Bordeaux, the first time in fifty-six years.
The lunch was proceeded by Mass at the Cathedral of St Andre with a procession of the Commanderie from the Town Hall carrying the stautue of St Vincent and a barrel of wine (not sure if this came from the Medoc, Graves, Barsac or Sauternes?).
I was nominated by Chateau Haut Bailly, Grand Cru Classe of Graves for its wonderful red wine, to be intronised and to receive the title of ‘Commadeur d’Honneur’. This involved standing up in front of the six hundred people present (mostly teams of people who worked for different chateaux from owners to tractor drivers), listening to my life’s achievements, tasting a glass of wine and making a positive comment (not difficult as it was 2001 Cantemerle – “beaucoup de fraicheur et tanins soyeux”), being enrobed and accepting a gold pin to wear with honour!
Each table was hosted by a different chateau who brought their wines from their own property. Haut Bailly brought the 1999 vintage. The idea is then to exchange your bottles with your neighbours to end up with an interesting array to try. Here is our selection magnificently managed by Caroline Perromat, in charge of Wine Tourism at Chateau Haut Bailly and who works closely with Veronique Sanders who runs the Cru Classe chateau (both present at the lunch).
2006 Chateau Carbonnieux Grand Cru Classe Pessac Leognan Blanc – intense flavours of citrus fruits with complex rich palate but with taste bud popping freshness
2003 Chateau Paloumey, Cru Bourgeois Medoc – smokey, light and fresh
2004 Chateau Luchey Halde – sweet oaky nose, bit rustic
*1999 Chateau Haut Bailly, Grand Cru Classe Pessac Leognan – creamy and minty freshness, silky, delicate and very elegant
2004 Marquis de Terme, Margaux – thin and light, bit acidic
2003 Chateau d’Issan – fresh considering the vintage with light fruit and soft tannins, pleasant but lighweight
2001 Chateau Giscours – fresh cherry still on this powerful wine the tannins of which are melting and softening. Together and smooth.
2001 Brainaire Ducru – normally one of my favorite chateaux and favorite vintages, bit disappointed by this light wine that was a seemed a little thin
*1999 Chateau Leoville Barton – absolutely delicious creamy wine with its black cherry fruit and sweet smooth tannins locked together to give an exquisite wine. Classic claret at its elegant best.
1998 Chateau Le Tertre – Perfumed sweetness but also undergrowth notes. Light wine but still enjoyable. Apparently Michel Rolland helped with this vintage.
2002 Chateau Lagrange – found quite an odd nows but lovely sweetness on the palate
2001 Chateau Lynch Bages
Smokey notes with smooth black fruit and a coffee finish. Medium weight
2004 Chateau Montrose
Blockbuster wine, very deep black in colour with still the purple hue of youth. Intense spicy nose of cinnamon and black pepper. Tannins still very firm. Lot of potential to come.
1998 Chateau Clerc Milon
Little over the hill. Nice coffee notes but lot fruit has gone.
2003 Chateau Mouton Rothschild
Grilled, toasty notes (torrefaction) and blackcurranty. Attractive touch of white pepper on the nose. On the palate sweet and thick and smooth.
1996 Pichon Baron
Little over the hill. Still pleasant graphite quality and smooth tannins. Bit thinned out.
2005 Chateau de Myrat
Afraid did not taste this wine from my friend Slanie. Sorry Slanie, perhaps next time.