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Socially Unbuttoning Bordeaux

May 21, 2019

This Vino Voices website/weblog is being redesigned by a professional (finally!)

It will soon be more compact and include a visual menu of previous posts.

Stay tuned.

Also, the Etalon Rouge wine website is also being redesigned, and is temporarily offline.

My recent Forbes pieces are here.

Forthcoming Forbes posts will include the story of a natural-wine loving Swedish entrepreneur who just launched a range of luxury electric boats, as well as notes about a vertical tasting of Ausone and Smith Haut Lafitte wines in Switzerland. There will be an article about the mutual influence of the French and Chinese in the wine world, and a list of five wineries (and their best wines) that are worth watching right now—including selections from the islands of Sicily and Majorca, as well as from the French Languedoc.

Château Soutard in Saint-Émilion, lit up during the annual ‘jurade’ dinner

When spring erupts in southwest France, so do social events. This post covers a few of the usual wine and food events here.

View of vines in the commune of Cars, Bordeaux

La Roche Chalais – where zero degrees longitude intersects the Dordogne River

ONE: Open Doors in Bourg.

This is an annual event in the nearby region (and town) of Bourg where wineries open their doors for two days to visitors. This year it was was renamed ‘Tous ô Chais’ (all cellars) instead of ‘Portes Ouverts’ (open doors).

The premise remains the same.

First, pick up a map listing participating wineries. Next, call friends to join you in visiting several wine châteaux for long tastings in a gorgeous rolling countryside.

Five of us spent an afternoon exploring, and met some local characters shown below.

Not surprisingly in France, the first winery we visited was closed for lunch. However, at the second winery (Château Lamothe) the owners let us unpack our own picnic at this massive indoor table, where we opened a bottle of wine and enjoyed an impromptu off the beaten track lunch of baguettes, cheeses, saucisson, tomatoes and chocolate. Parfait.

Exploration partners (from left): South Africans Martin and Jodi, and Chicagoans Melissa and Jody

Château Lamothe, whose owners graciously offered their banquet table for our picnic lunch

Owner Louis Meneuvrier (and son) of Croix-Davids

Château Sauman

Jean-Yves Béchet at biodynamic Château Fougas

Guard dog at Château Sauman

Château Sauman

Madame Lamothe with a 2018 barrel sample

The below list includes a selection of good quality wines scored for value using my proprietary Vino Value algorithm. In general, wine values in this region are excellent

Vino Value™ Scoring of Selected Wines – Open Doors Bourg 2019
Winery Wine 100 Point Score Equivalent Range Retail Price – Euros Retail Price – US dollars Value Score
Château Lamothe 2016 Grand Réserve 92+ 8.10 € $9.07 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Lamothe 2015 Grand Réserve 92+ 8.30 € $9.30 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Fougas 2016 Organic 92+ 8.00 € $8.96 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Fougas 2016 Forces de Vies 92+ 19.00 € $21.28 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château La Croix-Davids 2016 La Croix-Davids 92+ 9.00 € $10.08 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Sauman 2018 Rosé 92+ 5.00 € $5.60 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Sauman 2017 MM Émotion 92+ 9.00 € $10.08 Excellent Value ♫♫

TWO: Dinners Asscociated With Primeurs Wine Tastings and VinExpo 2019 Trade Fair

The April ‘primeurs’ wine tastings and this year’s earlier than usual renowned VinoExpo trade fair in Bordeaux city also coincided with dinners throughout the region. Many were formal, with excellent wines and food. I was fortunate enough to attend a Lynch-Bages sponsored dinner in Bordeaux city, as well as the renowned ‘Jurade’ dinner (this year at Château Soutard) in Saint-Émilion. Château Angélus also hosted a rather amazing dinner/spectacle titled ‘Dinner Under The Stars.’

This dinner in Bordeaux city was hosted by wineries that included Lynch-Bages

Legendary wine producer J. M. Cazes at dinner with Blaye wine producer Les Kellen

Jurade dinner at Château Soutard in Saint-Émilion

New Bordeaux Mayor Nicolas Florian (left) with Monsieur De Boüard of Cht Angélus at Jurade dinner

Below is a quick video provided by Château Angélus in Saint-Émilion of their April ‘Dinner Under The Stars’ during ‘primeurs’ wine tasting week. This was was quite the exceptional event—where magnums of wine from past three decades were served.

 

THREE: Impromptu Social Events

Warmer weather brings everyone out and together. This year has included exceptionally longs spells of sunny days in February, March, April and May.

In our town of Blaye, new South African neighbors recently held a bubbles and cake gathering, to which our French winemaking friend brought several classic old vintages. This is part of the local culture. Wine, cheese, dinners, desserts and social events seep into many aspects of life here in the spring (as well, honestly, during all other seasons).

Friend Monsieur Marchand brought a few beauties to sample …

Neighbor Celia accepts a quick glass of Languedoc wine from Minervois while passing by

There was also that memorable recent hippie dinner in Blaye.

South African, Russian, French and semi-Italian hippies gather for summer love (and wine)

Neighbor Emilie insists on a selfie (photo courtesy E. Boudrais)

This brief post was just a visual whirlwind to demonstrate social spring highlights around Bordeaux.

Remember—this site will soon be redesigned.

Regardless, upcoming posts cover Majorca, Sicily and Tuscany—and will provide more details about their dynamically changing food and wine cultures.

Again, thanks for visiting this site.

La Palma skyline—Majorca island of Spain

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