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Back in Bordeaux

December 3, 2014

After catching flights from Islamabad to Paris and onto Bordeaux – I’m with friends in the city of Blaye and enjoying free time after four years spent working in Asia.

Novmber sky above the Gironde estuary

November sky above the Gironde estuary in Blaye, Bordeaux

The good news is that conditions appear to have been optimal for the 2014 vintage. That’s a relief. After stellar vintages in 2009 and 2010, the years 2011, 2012, and 2013 were unremarkable by comparison.

This may have been one reason why the mood was particularly festive and bubbly at a party which friends Les and Clarissa invited me to on Saturday night at the home of friends Alain and Dominique Bredin – physicians and members of a local wine tasting group.

Within minutes I met some of Right Bank Bordeaux’s most colorful winemakers.

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Isabelle – back home with good family wine

Isabelle Chetty shared the story of how she abandoned France when fifteen years old, took a job as a butcher in New York, then traveled the world working on cruise liners before spending time in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands (St. Thomas is my birthplace, so we chatted about the isle we share in common). Eventually, she returned to Bordeaux where she and her brother now own and manage Château Mercier (Appellation Côtes de Bourg) with 23 hectares (57 acres) of south and west-facing slopes that include clay and gravel soils.

IMG_0327Isabelle shared generous helpings of her 2010 Cuvée Prestige, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec. I later learned how the wine goes well with Pyrénées cheese (coincidentally, I purchased the same Pyrénées at an open air market in Blaye that morning, where the vendor wearing a red beret insisted on pouring us glasses of red wine to drink while we tasted his cheese).

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Corinne proudly shared her 2007 vintage

Corinne Chevrier-Loriaud shared some of her 2007 vintage Château Bel-Air La Royére (Blaye – Côtes de Bordeaux) a hearty blend with an intriguing composition of 70 percent Merlot and 30 percent Malbec. Great promise with this winery.

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When he was not busy charming his audience, I greeted Yann Bouscasse. We first met last July. Previously the owner of the third largest container shipping company in the world, Yann and his wife Florence decided to move to Bordeaux – where they now own Château Cantinot. I had the fortune to buy futures in 2009 Cantinot years ago, and the cellared vintage is now balanced and a joy to drink.

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Yann regaling Isabelle with stories

What else is new? The $9.7 billion Tours Bordeaux high-speed rail project – begun in 2012 – will be completed by the end of 2015. It will shave more than an hour off train travel times from Paris to Bordeaux, reducing a typical three-hour twenty-minute ride to less than two hours.  This is the world’s largest rail concession contract, meaning that the consortium that designs and builds the rail line will also operate and maintain it for fifty years. The project is massive, and the road between the City of Bordeaux and Blaye shows the buzz of construction and earthwork projects. Soon, Parisians will visit the southern wine world of Bordeaux for a day. No doubt many Bordelais will appreciate choosing to live outside the city. Regardless, the rail line provides evidence of how Bordeaux’s economy is revving up.

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Les and Clarissa enjoying life…

 

 

 

 

12 Comments leave one →
  1. December 5, 2014 3:36 PM

    Bienvenue en France. Sounds like you’re having a great time 🙂

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    • December 22, 2014 11:02 PM

      Merci Chrissie….! Oh, the good times are rolling in Bordeaux. Cancellation at the language school in Villefranche, so I’ve been accepted and will be there in Janvier. Looking forward to it, and hopefully we can rendezvous to taste some of your riviera wine. Now – time to start working on this Schengen visa 🙂
      Joyeux Noel !

      Like

      • December 23, 2014 3:30 PM

        Oh what fab news, Tom! I’m in Australia for January, hoping you’ll still be around in Feb? I’m sure there’s a wine event or two we can meet at! Merry Christmas too! See you in 2015 🙂

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        • January 5, 2015 9:47 PM

          Enjoy Australia Chrissie! I am perched in Villefranche above a view of the splendid riviera where you live – so life is good. So far have only hit the rose, but on your recommendation will explore the Bellet soon….while practicing Francais. Happy 2015 to you!

          Like

  2. December 4, 2014 4:28 AM

    Sounds glorious!

    Back to Bordeaux? You’ve lived there before?

    Planning to stay there awhile now?

    Like

    • December 22, 2014 11:04 PM

      Jim!
      Joyeux Noel to you too. Yes, here in Bordeaux, then Nice. Working on the language and another book. Looking forward to meeting you over this way….

      Like

  3. Alex Putman permalink
    December 3, 2014 5:35 AM

    Sounds wonderful and stimulating. I’m so glad to hear the red beret cheese vendor is still going to market. He was my favourite!

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    • December 3, 2014 6:58 PM

      Great. Chilly weather is perfect for vin chaud – or hot spiced wine. These folks know how to live.

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      • Alex Putman permalink
        December 3, 2014 7:00 PM

        I have a lovely vin chaud mug from a street vendor in Dresden. Might have to get it out and make use of it! Roasted chestnuts the other night so will have to do that again too.

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  4. Anonymous permalink
    December 3, 2014 5:14 AM

    Love your posts – like taking a short vacation to another place, another lifestyle. Ta!

    Like

    • December 3, 2014 7:00 PM

      Thanks. Long walks in the cool countryside air here are perfect for clearing the mind, even after a few bottles of du vin the night before.

      Like

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