The 15th Tour de France des Appellations at Domaine de Chevalier event in Pessac Leognan is the moment when the world of fine wine lets its hair down, with top Burgundy, Champagne and vintage Port uncorked, many in jeroboams and magnums.


Olivier Bernard, ever the party host, pictured here at Bordeaux 2014 en primeur week.

The 15th Tour de France des Appellations at Domaine de Chevalier event in Pessac-Leognan is the moment when the world of fine wine lets its hair down at Vinexpo 2015.

Whereas black tie has been the dress code for the last two evenings, no tie of any kind is required. Instead, this is an annual knees-up celebration where old friends reunite, laugh, gossip and drink truly memorable and magnificent wine.

As ever, Olivier Bernard is the convivial host, while Olivier Leflaive, in his trademark ‘chapeau’ takes the role of side-kick and stand-up comedian. After their welcoming pre-amble both introduce a roll-call of the world-class winemakers who had brought a bevy of special bottles to make this un-missable party swing into the ‘wee small hours’.

It would be invidious to list all of them and besides, it would take too long. So here is a brief selection of some of the family producers and wines on show. First of all, Olivier Bernard had generously provided the glorious 1995 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc in magnum. And the 85 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge (from Jeroboam) wasn’t too bad either.

From Burgundy, Erwan Faiveley generously served his Domaine’s 2008 Bienvenu-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru en Methusalem and an equally stunning 2007 Grand Cru Latricieres-Chambertin en Jeroboam. Not to be outdone, Olivier Leflaive gave his sublime Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos St Marc 2010 – also from Jeroboam.

Pol Roger’s Hubert de Billy was clearly in party mood and happily shared vintages of Pol Roger (2004 and 2008) and Cuvee de Winston Churchill 2008. Olivier Zind Humbrecht is another larger than life character who dug deep. The Alsacien brought his Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos Saint Urbain Grand Cru 2011 and his Pinot Gris Rangen de Thann, Clos St Urbain Grand Crus SGN. Both were beyond words.

The same could be said of the 2001 Chateau de Beaucastel Rouge and Chateau de Fuisse’s Pouilly Fuisse Vieilles Vignes 1998 (from Jeroboam). And from the Loire, Alphonse Mellot had brought a glorious Sancerre Rouge – his En Champs 2012.

And though this was primarily an all-French affair, Dirk Niepoort was the honourable Portuguese interloper.

And he certainly didn’t let the side down. Not least because he’d hand-picked some remarkable large format wines including his 2008 Batuta and Charme Reds, both in gargantuan 18L bottles. But that was by no means all. He’d also opened two 14L bottles of Niepoort Colheita 1987 and a similar sized bottle of Niepoort Garrafeira 1931, both of which slipped down with considerable ease. All things considered, it was yet again quite a night and quite a party.