En Primeurs Week
Join us for a behind-the-scenes look at Primeurs Week, as wine professionals from all over the world flock to Bordeaux to discover the latest vintage. Over three days, and in six host châteaux, the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux is organising tasting sessions showcasing specific appellations.
Our first deep dive into the new vintage takes us to Château Balestard la Tonnelle, in Saint-Emilion. The sun is only just starting to cast its warmth over the grand driveway which leads up to the château. We spin around to take in the panoramic view over the vines, with the village of Saint-Emilion off in the background. The welcome is as smooth as it is efficient: badge scanned, glass and notepad in hand, into the tasting room we go!
Inside, the atmosphere is studious, almost solemn. The silence is broken only by the clinking of glasses, the sound of wine being rolled around attentive palates, and a few rare comments. The concentration is palpable… Jotting down those initial impressions on the nose and palate can help cement the wines in your memory. My discussions with the estates presenting their wines today gradually give me an idea of the 2021 vintage: “demanding and difficult”, “a classic Bordeaux vintage” or perhaps “a vintage for the great terroirs”.
A quick sip of water to freshen up the taste buds, since the tannins in these young wines are very prominent, and then it is time to push on to Pomerol.
Our arrival at Château Gazin is heralded by the chiming of the magnificent bell on the roof. A definite change of scene. With its white tiled floors and great wooden beams, the naturally cool atmosphere in the cellar sets the tone for the tasting. Eight châteaux are represented here, and I make the most of this calm and relaxed atmosphere to explore the unpolished edges of this intriguing new vintage, which is still taking shape.
Lunch is served at the château, providing a perfect opportunity to chat. The owners admit how thrilled they are to see so much hustle and bustle at the château after two long years without events. You can certainly feel the enthusiasm among those returning to the fray. Hugs, kisses, handshakes… More than anything, wine is about the pleasure of sharing! I strike up a conversation with some Dutch importers whose broad smiles have a slightly violet hue, the sign of a good day’s tasting. They tell me how happy they are to finally be back amid the vines of Bordeaux.
So ends my first day of Primeurs, relishing the pleasure of tasting alongside professionals from fifty-plus countries, basking in the jumble of languages, travelling in more ways than one.
The adventure continues, and in tomorrow’s report I’ll be exploring the terroirs of the Left Bank. To be continued…