The Things We Do For Wine - Bordeaux Day 5

by Chuck Hayward

The things we do for wine...

Post by Geoffrey Binder | Tuesday, March 30th

Today marked Team JJBuckley's first official UGC tasting of the trip.  Up until now, we've spent our time in private Chateau and negociant tastings and this would be our first foray into a traditional trade show, tasting shoulder to shoulder alongside our peers from around the world who had arrived at Chateau Batailley eager to get first impressions of PauillacSt. Estephe and St. Julien wines from the '09 vintage. While we did not expect to have the personally tailored, intimate experience we have been treated to thus far, those of us first-timers were somewhat unprepared for what we were about to encounter!

As we pulled up to the Chateau, the winds were blowing hard and cold. We had to park some distance away and the weather added to the sensation that we were on an arduous pilgrimage, making our way toward what would surely be the vinous Promised Land inside. As event signs were blowing down around us like paper dolls, we reached the doors, excited as much for shelter against the blistering winds as the tasting itself.

"Is this the line for Lafite?"

Inside we met a dazzlingly chaotic scene, and I almost imagined I had landed at Ellis Island at the turn of the century. Legions of tasters of all nationalities were huddled together, clamoring for their registration materials and entree into the tasting. With our papers finally in order, we entered the grand tasting hall where tables were set up to present the wines. Now let it be said that at professional tastings in the U.S., personal aromas (the kind that you spray on and cost a lot of money, I mean) are frowned upon as they necessarily interfere with the sensory process of evaluating wine. So I was somewhat surprised to encounter a veritable atomic mushroom cloud of perfume and cologne upon entry, but hey - when in Rome, right? Our merry band of pilgrims summoned our collective fortitude and entered the fracas.

Amid elbows and glassware akimbo, we made our way around the hall, seeking out wines that we wished to assess for a second and third time. In this let me say we were very fortunate, as we had tasted many of these incredible wines in relative solitude earlier in the trip. So our mission was less one of reflective contemplation and discovery than of confirmation of initial impressions of individual wines and an overall sense for how each region fared in the 2009 vintage. Over the course of the day and in the days ahead, we will repeat this process for the wines of Margaux and other AOCs to further cement our grasp of the regions and the vintage.

Regardless of the setting in which they are tasted, the 2009 wines are spectacular! I can hardly wait until I can bring them to my customers and I'll definitely be grabbing whatever I can for myself.  Á votre santé!