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Sauternes, Graves, Champagne Masterclasses and 900 guests at Decanter Great French Fine Wine Encounter

Nearly 900 wine lovers came through the doors of London’s Landmark Hotel for Decanter’s Great French Fine Wine Encounter on Saturday.

Guests had the choice of 65 stands from every great wine region of France: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Loire, Provence, Languedoc, Rhone, Alsace, and Corsica.

Particularly well-attended was the Riedel stand, where guests were invited to test the renowned glass manufacturer’s different styles, while Oz Clarke (pictured right) was mobbed as he signed a selection of his books.

As well as the two main tasting rooms, there were three packed masterclasses, starting with Three Great Terroirs: Veronique Saunders of Haut Bailly, Thomas Duroux of Chateau Palmer, and Alexandre Thienpont of Vieux Chateau Certan (all pictured bottom) presenting a selection of vintages.

Thienpont revealed a forgotten fact about the legendary 2005 vintage: it was almost a disaster. ‘It is maybe the best wine we ever made but it came close to catastrophe before the vintage was saved by rain in September.’

Tom Stevenson presented 10 vintage Champagnes, from Veuve Clicquot Vintage 2002 back to Pol Roger 1999 Blanc de Blancs Brut, Bollinger RD 1997 and the Blanc de Blancs de Palmer 1995.

The last wine proved to be the audience’s favourite, and caused a gasp when Stevenson revealed it cost €15 in magnum – a fraction of the price of some of the ‘celebrity’ cuvees tasted.

Later in the afternoon six vintages of Sauternes, from Chateaux Coutet, Climens, Suduiraut and Guiraud, were presented by their respective owners.

Berenice Lurton of Climens said she felt Sauternes and Barsac were often overlooked at the expense of the general obsession with red Bordeaux.

She felt its ageing capacity wasn’t fully recognised, to which end the producers presented four venerable vintages: Guiraud 1996, Coutet 1989, Climens 1974 and Suduiraut 1970.

Don’t miss other Decanter events, including the New World Fine Wine Encounter in May, and the Wines of Veneto tasting day

Written by decanter.com staff

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