Experience Bordeaux Wines of Medoc & St-Emilion with SmoothRed
By Jacqueline Jeynes
Experience Bordeaux Wines of Medoc & St-Emilion. This 3-night tour included two full days touring vineyards and Grand Cru winemakers in the Medoc and St-Emilion areas of Bordeaux. You would expect a visit to 6 vineyards to be boring and although the basic process of growing vines and making wine is the same, we were fascinated by the touches that made each one unique.
Chateau Lafon-Rochet, Tesseron
A large estate selling wine as ‘futures’, this is a super-modern building with temperature of individual vats and air-conditioning all controlled by computer. A brilliant large-screen display monitors every element of the process for each tank.
We tasted some direct from a barrel, so not matured, then two more bottled but still young. Tannins stronger than they will be after more years in the bottle, but you get a feel for how they will taste in the future.
Chateau Maucaillou has chosen to use stainless steel vats with 30% turnover of new oak barrels each year. They have an excellent museum on site, very smooth samples of their rich, red Grand Cru wines to try, and a stunning Chateau that provides accommodation and tuition as an Ecole du Vin. An attractive option for the future, I think.
A stunning chateau, this is a film-maker’s dream location. It has a more traditional approach with original large concrete vats, each section related to a specific plot and grape variety on the estate. Three different wines to sample and by now you can tell the difference between younger and more mature, mellower wines.
Chateau du Tailhas, Pomerol
Day 2 starts with our trip to the St-Emilion region, with Chateau du Tailhas – Pomerol is unique in this area as it is very flat with a light, sandy soil. They grow mainly cabernet sauvignon grape variety, the vines always grafted onto American root stock as this is resistant to disease in the soil. Very impressive cellars and steel tanks, with wonderful smooth reds for us to sample. This is an internationally renowned producer with some very prestigious
Right in the center of St-Emilion village, this was the most unusual winemaker visited on this trip, the owner experimenting with different methods of fermenting including terracotta storage jars. A visit to the cellar is an adventure! Old, low-ceiling tunnels wind under the house for 3 Km, the final section for the private collection of wines, some more than 100 years old. It felt very odd to emerge inside the kitchen of the main house at the end of the tunnel.
Tasting this time involves a walk through the old town, very steep narrow paths, to a wine shop. Three more reds to try then on to our delicious lunch at L’Envers du Décor, the best restaurant in St-Emilion.
Our final visit was to a small family-run estate owned by the family since the 18th century. They have now added two further small estates nearby but with such poor weather in 2017, these chateaux have lost between 60%-100% of their crop – not an immediate effect as it is around 18 months before it is sold, but 2019 will be very difficult for them. They sell bottled wine to individual customers rather than as futures to larger wine merchants.
We gained some valuable insights into the basic wine-making techniques, how each Chateau differentiates their wines, and the critical importance of the terroir. Even after a short visit like this, we can see how important the vintage is and the negative impact on smaller vineyards when nature destroys their harvest.
I am travel writer with Silver Travel Advisor, regular feature writer on their site aimed at 50+ age group, currently 80,000 regular subscribers. Reviews include visits to hotels, restaurants, theatres, and vineyards for wine-tastings as well as events such as Gin Festival, the first UK Prosecco Festival, regular local wine-tastings and even the longest Zip Wire in Wales!
I am a member of Non-Fiction Authors Association as I have been writing business, social history and art history books for almost 20 years, and won Writer of the Year 2015 award. Only recently joined twitter so building up links related to wine, art, travel, and invitations to visit destinations around the world for reviews aimed at mature travelers.
(I have been married to Leslie for 36 years, we have 8 children between us, 24 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren. Clearly, I have been around for a while!)
Dr. Jacqueline Jeynes [Ph.D., MBA, B.Ed(Hons), BA(Hons)]