Casablanca, Ulysses, and Sailing to Bordeaux
Annick and Pierre Saturney met in the Moroccan city of Casablanca. They soon married. She was born in Morocco, of parents from Brittany in France who had moved to North Africa to secure work. Pierre was a Frenchman serving military service in Morocco. In 1959, when the political dice rolled and showed unwelcome numbers for Morocco, the couple moved back to France. They soon lived in a hefty, stately château perched along Bordeaux’s Gironde estuary, and opened Château Tayac winery.
The winery produces a small quantity of white wine, using one hectare of white grapes (Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion, and Muscadelle), as well as their signature Prestige red wines. These are unusual for the right bank of Bordeaux because of instead of being primarily comprised of Merlot, they are typically 80 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 20 percent Merlot. Perhaps as a tribute to wine critic Robert Parker who spent hours in their winery (and who supposedly showed partiality to Merlot at that time) – Tayac also decided to produce Terrasses wines (90 percent Merlot and 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon) in years when Merlot is particularly good (2001, 2003, 2009).
We sipped glasses of white, rose, and red wines while Ulysses the winery dog curled on the floor behind us.
Annick pointed at a glass case with two bottles of their wine that traveled around the world in a sailboat – stopping in Italy, Spain, Greece, Venezuela, Brazil, and Martinique and all sorts of other locales.
Of three bottles that completed the journey, she and Pierre shared one during a dinner with the couple who made this sailing venture. They all found the wine ’100 times’ better than the same wine taken from their cellar. If anyone tells you wine does not travel well – remember this story.
Another time the couple handed a bottle to a friend who then drove twenty thousand miles. Afterwards, they tasted it and found the wine ‘perfect.’
It was time to drink. The 2002 Prestige had a deep, smooth, velvety taste of blackberries while the 2009 Terrasses was young, tannic, and ripe with the taste of cherries.
Today, the couple’s two sons Loic and Philippe make and market their wines. On a late December morning – rain battered and blustery – we interrupted the entire family while they ate lunch in a huge kitchen before a roaring log fire.
Their winery symbol is the Black Prince (also known as Edward of Woodstock after the English town where he was born in 1330). At the age of sixteen, Edward was victorious in battle against the French at Crécy, and at age twenty-six won another victory at Poitiers. The exploits of the Black Prince symbolized English victory during the ’100 Years War’ between France and England. And yet – his native language was French, and allegiances then were unpredictable. What was certain was that the wine commerce between France and England was robust at that time. No surprise. Politics can be grand, philosophical, and confused, whereas good wine always facilitates the merging of different people and viewpoints.