It’s morning in Paris. Once again I’m headed to Bordeaux to taste the brand new 2014 vintage with Wally’s President Christian Navarro. Christian has been making this trip since 1991. This will be my ninth year having started tasting en Primeur in 2007. It’s always a thrilling prospect to be among the first to taste the new vintage and 2014 has had some major buzz with early word that this is the best vintage since 2010 and may stand among the best vintages of the past few decades. A week from now we will know for ourselves.
A scheduling snafu has us staring down a four-hour layover at Charles de Gaulle, an airport with a serious dearth of options for killing four hours. Christian and I commiserate over our situation. A four-hour layover…you could drive to Bordeaux in five! This gets us thinking and a few minutes later we decide, to hell with it, let’s rent a car. We can be there roughly around the time our connecting flight would leave and we can have lunch in the Loire and a great story to tell.
Off we go speeding down the E5 in a Citroen Picasso, headed for Orleans. The Paris suburbs give way to open countryside and a few hours later we are flying by highway exits bearing the names of the famous Loire chateaux: Cheverny, Chaumont, Amboise, Chambord. Using far too much of my data roaming package, I pull up the details of a Michelin One Star restaurant that looks like a good bet for lunch. La Maison d’A Cote sits in the center of the small town of Montlivault, a place neither of us would likely ever have visited had it not been for that fateful layover.
Lunch is fantastic, Chef Cristophe Hay’s cuisine is inventive and modern but thoroughly takes advantage of the beautiful produce from the region known as “the garden of France.” A little local Pouilly Fume and Chinon really hit the spot with our three-course prix fixe. Back in the car we continue south and a few hours later we arrive in the center of Bordeaux.
We check in to the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux, the recently restored five-star hotel directly across from the Bordeaux Opera House. Dinner tonight is a low-key Sunday supper at the home of Basile Tesseron, proprietor of Chateau Lafon Rochet. Basile welcomes us with a glass of homemade Lillet Blanc. We have a great night discussing the vintage and dine on some of the best Duck Confit I have ever had. The 2000 Lafon Rochet is showing beautifully tonight, broad shouldered and full of ripe fruit just getting into its plateau of maturity.
After a whirlwind day it’s off to bed, our schedule starts tomorrow with some major names in the Left Bank including Mouton Rothschild, Pontet Canet and Margaux.
-Written by Geoff Pattison, Director of Imports