2010 Bordeaux

Exclusive coverage of the 2010 UGC En Primeurs Tasting! Notes and anecdotes from the front.

Cos d’Estournel: I Don’t Think We’re in Kansas Anymore

Cos d’Estournel: I Don’t Think We’re in Kansas Anymore

Post by Alex Shaw | April 4th, 2011

During En Primeurs, Bordeaux is extremely busy (picture restaurants with people spilling out the doors and cars bumper to bumper on the roads), and appointments are an absolute must.  In fact, as many as a thousand or more visit requests may have to be denied by a prominent chateau, as Cos d’Estournel director Jean-Guillaume Prats told us on Monday.  Luckily, we made the cut.

The Lap of Luxury

Entering the Cos d’Estournel tasting room, which is like no other in Bordeaux, you might think you were entering the lobby of a swank midtown Manhattan hotel.  Dark stone floors and walls, red carpets, high tables for tasting, complete with back lighting, and soft music filling the spacious hall. The wines—Goulee, Pagodes de Estournel and Cos d’Estournel—were big and impressively structured, certainly well received by the JJ Buckley team, but we were probably most overwhelmed by the tasting room.  For lack of a better word, it is just….cool. (more…)

Taking it from the Top: Day 1 starts at Lafite

Taking it from the Top: Day 1 Starts at Lafite

Post by Chuck Hayward | April 5th, 2011

On Monday Team JJB dove head first into in EP 2010. Racing up and down the D2, the main drag which runs the length of the Left Bank, gravel flew as our caravan tore in and out of parking lots. Like a Brooks Brothers-clad A-Team, we jumped out of vans, sprinted across impeccably manicured lawns, took steps two at a time in our suits and ties to make our appointments.

With a radically different itinerary from last year, our first intensive look at the vintage was through the prism of the Premier Grand Crus, the

Latour vista

First Growths of the upper Medoc. The “Big Five”, as they are often referred to, generally attract the most attention each year and it’s not often one gets the chance to taste these wines, either from the barrel or from the bottle. So smoothing hair and straightening jackets, we entered the quiet salon at our first stop, Chateau Lafite. Then we dashed over the hill and south to Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, followed by Chateau Latour, and on to Chateau Margaux. Visits to Cos d’Estournel, Palmer, and Leoville-Las Cases were also on the packed Day One itinerary, as well as a tasting of 2007 and 2008 Bordeaux at the warehouse of a top negoce. Before the sun hit the horizon, it was already a full day.

As might be expected, conversation among the team revolved around the favorites of the four Big Chateaux visited that day (Haut Brion would come on Tuesday). Our conversation turned to (more…)

Under Pressure

Under Pressure

Post by Jeff Loo | April 6th, 2011

When I heard that we would be visiting Jeffrey Davies this week to taste through a slew of 2010 Right Bank wines, I was thrilled at the opportunity to reconnect.  Two years ago, just before I left for France to work the 2009 harvest at La Confession, I met him in San Francisco. After dinner he told me I would have fun and learn a lot and then offered me a taste of 1928 d’Yquem.  What an introduction!

Jeffrey Davies (r) tasting with the JJB crew

Fast forward to April 2011. Jeff welcomed the whole JJB team to his Signature Selections office on a cold and rainy day, rather dreary really. We proceeded to taste through 65 wines from St. Emilion, Pomerol, Cotes de Castillon, Fronsac and other satellite arenas from the Right Bank, and during the course of the tasting, we noticed some of the wines were ones we had tasted the day prior with superstar consultant Stephen Derenoncourt.  The interesting thing was that they were completely different.  We had been hearing about barometric pressure and how it affects winetasting.  To be honest, I thought it was complete bunk.  (more…)

After Hours of Bordeaux, There’s Nothing Like Champagne

After Hours of Bordeaux, There’s Nothing Like Champagne

Post by Alex Shaw | April 5th, 2011

The Driveway to Chateau Prieure-Lichine Seemed So Long

The team split up for our second night in Bordeaux—a few folks stayed back at the hotel to get work done, one group went to Chateau Kirwan for dinner, while we set out for Chateau Prieure-Lichine in Margaux for the evening.  Following an afternoon of tasting 75+ wines, with no lunch, on about 3.5 hours of sleep, we were understandably dragging.  Settling into the living room, the evening was led by Prieure-Lichine’s Commercial Director Lise Latrille, who immediately started us off with the new vintage of Prieure-Lichine.

The Table Is Set—With Bollinger

While the wine was wonderful and elegant in a way that the great cabernets from Margaux are, we were fading and in no shape to truly appreciate it. I could see people fidgeting in an attempt to stay focused and knew this was going to be a long evening.  And then came the Bollinger!  When your palate is fried from hours and hours of tasting barrel samples of tannic reds, there is simply nothing in the world that can compare to a glass of champagne.  It’s hard to overstate this. Lunches often start with a glass of bubbly (as mornings are filled with tasting multiple wines), and marathon tastings are often interrupted by a glass of champagne, which reinvigorates the palate and helps assess the wines that follow more accurately.  Lest we forget the sheer joy of Champagne…  It’s medicine for the palate and brings joy to the soul. (more…)

We’re Grateful That Gracia Marches to His Own Beat

We’re Grateful That Gracia Marches to His Own Beat

Post by Cory Gowan | April 5th, 2011

If there’s any correlation to the craze of California cult wines in Bordeaux, it’s in the garagiste winemakers inside the town St. Emilion. An ancient UNESCO world heritage site constructed of stone, the city is full of cafés and bistros fighting for tourists, wine shops, shops open on a Sunday for that matter, as well as the two-Michelin-starred restaurant inside the Hostellerie de Plaisance hotel owned by Gerard Perse (Pavie, Monbousquet, Bellevue-Mondotte), St. Emilion is a mecca for the well-to-do tourist and wine traveler.

The JJB Crew invades St. Emilion

Straight from the grand cellars of Chateau Pavie, we rolled into town and walked down the narrow cobblestone streets. Though it’s almost the last place you’d expect to find a top Bordeaux winery, this is where we met with Michel Gracia, who makes the top-scoring garagiste wine Gracia.  He was a sculptor before he made the first vintage of in 1997. Unlike most of the vignerons we visit in Bordeaux, Gracia doesn’t speak a lick of English and doesn’t bring a translator with him for American visitors. In fact, he insisted we speak Spanish. No matter, as his upbeat nature and welcoming smile were all we needed. (Oh… and the wine!)

Indeed, this truly was a garage winemaking facility. We made our way into his tiny winery/barrel room combo insulated with shiny silver foam tacked onto the walls and with low ceilings. Ducking our heads as we passed into the next room where vinification takes place in tanks, we realized it would have been impossible to move the equipment into this space. How did he do it, we asked? He told us he simply cut a large hole in the wall of the house next door and then cemented it back up. Voila! (more…)

The Super Second That Came In First

The Super Second That Came In First

Post by Alex Shaw | April 4th, 2011

Coming Home to Ducru Beaucaillou

Ducru Beaucaillou, the Second Growth in Saint Julien, hosted the entire JJ Buckley assemblage for the first dinner in Bordeaux.  Driving up to Ducru, a grand chateau with sprawling vineyards running down towards the Gironde, was the picture perfect commencement to our evenings in Bordeaux. It was also a sort of “coming home,” as dinner at Ducru had been a highlight for many of us last year.  As we walked up to meet Bruno Borie in our suits and ties, the warm, inviting owner of Ducru greeted us dressed in jeans and Chuck Taylors. I knew then it would be an informal and lively dinner, the type relished by old friends with a shared love of wine.

Touring the Barrel Rooms

As with most events in Bordeaux, we began with a tour of the barrel rooms. After a stroll through the caves holding the chateau’s library of Ducru vintages dating to the mid-1800s, we were treated to a tasting of the new vintage of Ducru’s portfolio, led by Stephen Lemaitre, the chateau’s ambassador. Each of the wines (Croix de Beaucaillou, Lalande Borie and Fourcas Borie) leading up to Ducru was more impressive than the last.  The quality was clearly equal to, or better than, 2009, as the wines were richly textured with tremendous structure and vibrant acidity.  (more…)

JJ Buckley Takes On 2010 En Primeurs

JJ Buckley Takes On 2010 En Primeurs

Post by Chuck Hayward | April 4th, 2011

The JJB Team Infiltrates Pavie

With the entire JJ Buckley team finally assembled in Bordeaux, we’ve begun our first forays into discerning the potential of the 2010 harvest. We came to Bordeaux to make our own assessments, but without blindfolds and earplugs…  it’s hard to look at the new vintage without being affected by early coverage from the front. Whether it is journalists who got the first peek at the harvest or the negociants and the winemakers themselves, opinions are already floating around. Early reports have focused on three aspects of the vintage: the elegant profile and high-toned nature of the fruit, the amount of tannin in the wines and the alcohol levels.

Yet if there is one word that can describe our tastings so far, it would be “surprising.” It’s only been one day and the JJ Buckley team has recorded a little less than 100 wines in our notebooks. While that might not be much in the bigger scheme of things, there are definitely a few conclusions that can be drawn, and I feel confident that these observations will hold true as we taste more. (more…)

Bordeaux 2010: You’ve Got Questions, We’ll Get Answers!

Join Us For Bordeaux En Primeurs!

You’ve got Questions…We’ll get Answers.

Each year, our team of wine specialists spends a week in Bordeaux at En Primeurs, meeting with winemakers, Chateau owners and negociants on both banks. We taste literally hundreds of wines during the course of the week, make our tasting notes, and choose what we’ll offer on futures that year.

Our Bordeaux customers have always enjoyed our coverage of the events and our perspective and buying recommendations for the vintage at hand. But this year, in addition to our usual blog and Twitter posts, Facebook updates, and annual Bordeaux Vintage Report, we’ve decided to do something a little bit different…

Video journalist, blogger, and winemaker Hardy Wallace (yeah !!!) will be embedded with our team, capturing all the action on location at the UGC events and posting updates to our social media channels.

But the fun doesn’t doesn’t end there! This year, we want you to be a part of our adventure. Ask us anything you’d like to know about the 2010 Bordeaux vintage, or any other Bordeaux-related question for that matter. We’ll film the response on location and post it back to you here!

Maybe you’d like to ask Jean-Guillaume Prats a question about his 2010 Cos d’Estournel, or Alfred Tesseron a question about his Pontet-Canet. Or perhaps you’d like to know more about exciting Bordeaux up-and-comers—ask Jeffrey Davies, one of our top negociant suppliers who always has his finger on the pulse of Bordeaux.

Scroll down for our week-long schedule of activities, then post those burning questions to the comments area below. We can’t promise we’ll be able to answer each and every question, but we’ll do our best. (more…)

Next Stop: Bordeaux

Next Stop: Bordeaux!

Post by Shaun Bishop | April 1st, 2011

I’m writing this from the tiny town of Vougeot in Burgundy, France where my team and I have been visiting top domaines and tasting all week. At

The Team at Tertre Roteboeuf in 2009

the same time, another JJ Buckley team has arrived into Bordeaux and is heading to dinner at Chateau Lagrange – I know it sounds ‘rough’, but I promise you, it really is a lot of hard work (and a long time to be gone from your wife and kids!)

Tomorrow morning, we take the train to Bordeaux to meet up with the rest of the JJB team. The exciting news is that this year, we want YOU to be part of the adventure and encourage you to ask us anything you’d like to know about the 2010 vintage in Bordeaux (or any other Bordeaux related questions for that matter). (more…)