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Stephen Brook’s Bordeaux 2009 Blog: Day 1

Good morning from a cool damp Bordeaux, where the primeur season is off to an early start.

On Saturday evening, Catherine Péré-Vergé, a businesswoman from northern France, celebrated her 25 years of ownership of Château Montviel in Pomerol, as well as other properties in Pomerol, notably Le Gay and La Violette.

After a tasting of older vintages, we enjoyed a fine dinner, cooked by the chef of a restaurant she happens to own near Biarritz.

Her speech recalled highlights of her many vintages, including the day in 1992 when the harvest was sorted on her kitchen table.

Most growers, she happily insisted, were liars when talking about their vineyards: ‘Oh yes, we have very old vines, we never need to replant….All nonsense.’

She told her son Henri, seated opposite me, to apply himself when he took over: ‘Work with energy and enthusiasm, and you can say goodbye to long holidays.’

Henri murmured: ‘She’s always talking about retiring, but you can bet she’ll still be here next year.’

Michel Rolland, her long-term consultant, recalled a spat with French wine critic Michel Betanne about the vinification of her latest micro-property, La Violette, and Betanne replied with some grace and admitted that despite his reservations, the wine had turned out very well.

At my table sat Simon Tam, a charming jack of all trades based in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Macau. He confirmed the rich Chinese were waiting with bulging pockets to enter the primeur market for the first time.

Andreas Larsson, the Swedish Meilleur Sommelier du Monde, told me he wasn’t much interested in trying to assess brand-new vintages. Like me, he’s rather go to a good party.

Today had lunched at Gruaud-Larose, where as well as the host château’s wines, he had drunk Krug and white Hermitage from Chave. Verbally I responded, ‘How nice for you’.

In my head, I thought: ‘How come I wasn’t invited?’

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