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Harvest Season And Moseying Around Médoc

October 10, 2017

Flashback:

Remember I wrote about this rebel?

Apparently he is still in rebel mode, according to the Times (thanks for sharing Gill Blayney).

Present.

To see my latest Forbes pieces click here. They include a piece about artist Cleon Peterson as well as a meeting with a wine producer in the Médoc who turned his war-scarred memories into art for the world.

Upcoming stories during the next month will include another interview in the Médoc as well as in Saint-Émilion, another Rothschild project opening in the Alps, more Abruzzo intrigue and the review of a forthcoming new wine book.

Harvest.

As those of you on FB know, our Etalon Rouge harvest is in, and the grapes taste zippy and fresh. Photos are below.

Though reduced in quantity because of nasty hail this spring, we’re hoping for some stellar wine. We also have a FB page you can search for and join (search Etalon Rouge).

We are building a new winery on Rue Saint Simon where a few of us live.

If you would like to purchase any 2015 do let me know. It’s the best yet—100% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Our vines in the commune of Fours

The freshly harvested 2017 grapes are being fermented, as well as aged, in brand new French oak barrels to improve the overall quality. Fortunately our new consulting enologist Christian Prudhomme has consulted for Opus One in California, Mouton Rothschild, Cheval Blanc, and Y’quem in Bordeaux. He’s quite the amazing enologist.

Requisite French vineyard scene – tractor and deux chevaux car (courtesy of Les)

This year our relatively minor quantity of white Sauvignon Blanc was hand harvested, while the red was machine harvested. In the future we may hand harvest red, but also want to aim at become biodynamic.

As you know the vineyard used to belong to comedian Gerard Depardieu and afterward artist Thierry Bisch. So, if, after tasting, you feel like telling jokes or getting creative, that’s the provenance of the vineyard!

Visualize the future bottle

Clarissa and winemaker Stéphane Heurlier from Château La Bretonnière (we borrowed his harvester)

 

We are borrowing space at Chateau de la Salle until our own facilities are constructed

Rambling in Saint-Estephe.

Friend and author Gilles Berdin invited me to visit a few châteaux in the Médoc region of Bordeaux this past Wednesday. I drove two minutes from where I live to the ferry boat, then rode over the estuary waters for 20 sun-soaked glorious minutes to the ‘left bank’ of Bordeaux, which includes the Médoc region. Saint Estephe is a sub-region of the Médoc that includes glorious full bodied red wines.

Gilles has written several excellent books about winemakers that share the same format. He and the vigneron sit down to share a bottle and chat. He records their words of wisdom and insight about wine and life. He visits several times, each time sharing a different, special bottle. Some of his books are translated into English, and all are excellent.

On the ferry, a person emerged from a car ahead and looked at me.

“Tom, ca va?” he asked.

It was Nicolas Vergez from the winery Châteaux Cassagne Boutet. We talked of life, work, and the poor harvest this year.

Having lost 90 percent of his grapes to the spring frost, Nicolas had finished his harvest and was driving to his family’s cabin on the Atlantic shore to go surfing for a few days. When we returned to our vehicles, he sauntered over carrying two bottles of Le Puits Merlot 2014 wine as a gift.

Merci Nicolas.

Authentic Surfing Vigneron Nicolas Vergez

After the ferry docked at Lamarque, I then drove for 20 minutes to meet Gilles. During the hours that followed, we met two winemakers who are now titans in their field. Giles has written books about both.

Both men struggled to achieve success; one came from no wealth, while the other was basically a quasi war refugee repatriated to France from Algeria as a young boy. These men are generous, visionary and have great pride in sharing with others.

I published one piece for Forbes about one of these men earlier today, and will publish the other in the coming days/weeks ahead.

At Château d’Arsac, the first winery owner, Philippe Raoux, gave us a tour before seating us for lunch and wine.

Philippe Raoux before his Château d’Arcy and beautiful grounds

Apparently the mathematics of winemaking

Part of the winemaker’s series – stunning Sauvignon Blanc

Philippe’s souvenir from his day in Oran, Algeria – then a wine producing powerhouse

Before we left, Philippe presented me with a gift box of 4 special bottles from his winery, made by four separate female winemakers from four different continents.

Each year he invites one renowned winemaker to come tend a plot of his grapes and then make wine in any way they desire. Their input is included in the annual Winemakers’ Collection series.

Four continents, four female winemakers

We next motored onto Château Haut-Marbuzet. The owner and legendary figure Henri Duboscq turned out to be a lively and bright soul who believes that making wine and making love share much in common. He was not hesitant, during our lively and fun interview, to explain how analysis and passion are separate—after all, he asked, ‘you don’t spend too much time analyzing lovemaking, do you?’

Looking out at Château Haut-Marbuzet

Monsieur Duboscq appreciates that his life may not truly have been under his guided control, but under greater forces which he submitted to, and which changed his life—quite for the better. He also believes that vines choose the individuals to tend them, not the other way around.

“Ah!” he exclaimed. “You live in Blaye! You do not have to catch a plane home. Then you can take some wine! Do you like wine to drink now, or to age?”

I hesitated.

“Then you must have both!” he said before sending his assistant off to bring back a half-dozen bottles of 2013 and 2014.

I had left Blaye on the 10.00 am ferry, returned on the 6.30 pm ferry, been given two wonderful interviews, a healthy lunch with wine, and acquired, unexpectedly, a dozen wonderful bottles of wine.

Now that was quite a Wednesday 🙂

The MacCarthy’s once owned the Marbuzet vines. Yes, Irish winemakers!

Again, another piece will be on Forbes about charismatic Henri Duboscq within weeks.

Again, thanks for tuning in!

 

 

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