A WEEKEND IN BORDEAUX II: THE WINE
Updated: Nov 4, 2018
Sunday morning, involved a quick trip to the Carrefour city, we bought some perfect baguettes crunchy on the outside yet soft and warm in the middle. We made sandwiches of our spoils, smoked salmon for my companion and jambon de Bayonne for me, each accompanied by Boursin garlic cheese, a local cheese made from raw milk whose name escapes me, rocket, black pepper & olive oil. After breakfast we headed to the tourist office to meet our tour guide for a visit to the heart of wine, St Emilion. It was a short drive half an hour or so during which time we were given a brief history of the town from the Romans to present day and explained the 5 tier classification system for the prestigious St Emilion wines from grand cru through to premiere grand cru classée A.
On approaching St Emilion we passed through Pomerol, a region whose wines rank amongst the best in the world year in year out. What struck me about these vineyards is how small they are in comparison to your typical vineyard, wine production here is all about quality, not quantity. Once we arrived at St Emilion we were given a short tour of the well preserved romanic village followed by a look around the now privately owned monolithic cathedral. The cathedral, was far from flamboyant, all paintwork on the inside had been washed away and the only windows were functional letting light in, no fancy stained glass. After the tour we had some free time to stroll through the cobbled streets, we sat on a bench admired the beauty of the village whilst having our delectable sandwiches and savoring dessert, a warm sugar crepe from a local créperie. Aside from wine, the village is known as the birthplace of the original almond macaroon, there remains but one lady who still grounds her own almond flour. Unfortunately I had to make a decision between sampling an original macaroon or walking to the château. Maybe next time.
We moved on to Château Bernateau for a tour of their grounds, an insight into the decisions made while producing an organic St Emilion grand cru and of course a tasting. tried three wines, a 2014 from Château Tour Peyronneau, 2009 Château Bernateau the year they turned organic and a 2004 Château Bernateau. The young wine I would not go back for. It was nice but the tannins were young and very present, it was too fresh for my liking with notes of unpicked summer berries, and slightly above average acidity. Personally I prefer something a bit more aged and oaky. The 2009 was the favourite of the majority, the aging allowed you to appreciate the bouquet of the bottle, the more woody and rounded notes, whilst the sharpness of the young tannins had mellowed. It’s incredible how a bit of time can perfect a wine.
Once we left St Emilion it was straight back to Bordeaux for a trip to the Christmas market, some vin chauds (the white was definitely nicer than the red) and back home for a nap. The last supper was somewhere a bit more hip, Mamma Shelter. A swanky spot with incredible decor and an impressive bar. The menu was not too vast but each dish was as tempting as the next, we opted for the Bone marrow with caramalised onions & toast and Tuna carpaccio with avocado vinaigrette to start. Both dishes were magnificently wonderful, the symphony of flavours and textures contrasted and complemented each other – divine. The delicately fatty and hot marrow atop crispy toast akin to bruschetta is a pairing to be celebrated like a golden wedding anniversary, the sweetness and acidity of the onions cut through the fat leaving your mouth in awe that such simple and typically throw away ingredients can be so divine. The tuna was seared to perfection, the avocado giving that friendly creaminess to the mouth whilst the lime and radish cleansed the pallette for the next mouthful. My dinner partner had a steak with bordelaise sauce whilst I had succulent lamb with creamy parsnip mash and rich gravy, it was always going to be difficult for the mains to outdo the starters, perhaps on this occasion too difficult. For wine we had a 2004 Château Pindefleurs, St Emilion grand cru, very impressive medium acidity with hints of blackcurrant, a good accompaniment for the rich mains. Unfortunately the manager would not allow us to take what was left of the bottle home so we were forced to finish the remaining third of the bottle faster than we would have have liked, shame to rush such a nice wine.
The flight back was in the early afternoon, which left just about enough time to head to la Maison du vin in the center of town for one last glass. We opted for a 2004 Pomerol for under €7 a glass, perhaps the best €7 spent in a lifetime. It was a deep scarlet with discernibly earthy notes of truffle that went perfectly well with my plate of chocolates. The same was said of the cheese plate accompaniment, but I cannot imagine how that pairing could be anywhere near as good. Hands down best wine of the trip.