24 Feb 2008

Pomerol Knights, Welsh Tea Cake

'...writing in his tome Grands Vins Clive Coates M.W. discusses the possible role of the Knights Templars in the evolution of Gazin... the location of which was once a stop-off for pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostella...'
I WENT ALONG to Decanter’s ‘Pomerol Séduction’ masterclass yesterday. This covered nine vintages (’81-’05) from all over Aquitaine’s smallest and perhaps most evocative appellation. The most impressive tasting Château: Clinet, from the region's heart, represented by a 14P/C ’05. This had an unexpected flavour spectrum of chocolate, bacon, Bara Brith Welsh tea cake (raisins, currants, candied peel) and butterscotch.
The audience sniggered when it was mentioned that Château Mazeyres, from the west of Pomerol, is in the hands of Société Générale(!) The ’03 was crisp, with drying grass, earth and a small pour of single cream: a heat-wave survivor. Young Château, Clos de Clocher had a confected banana nose in its '02 mingled with cassis dipped celery and an unbalanced, grippy palate. The most expensive wine present (according to Wine Searcher), Château la Conseillante ’00. This had what only could be described as a stable door nose, the intensity of which grew over time. It was described as being almost St. Émilion in style. Château Rouget’s ’99 was a tough character, smelling of indelible marker pen and silicone glue. ’98 Château Beauregard evoked Munster, but had the most ‘classic’, complex structure.
According to its co-owner (and the best speaker) Nicolas de Bailliencourt, the ’95 rendition of Château Gazin (which sold 4.5HA to Pétrus to appease French inheritance law) would work brilliantly with Hare stuffed with Foie Gras and Truffles. That would certainly distract from the tenacious tannins; maybe I should check... Incidentally he gave a tip: sniffing from the rim of the glass gives much more definition.
Marie-Louse Schyler of Château Petit-Villages was the only lady present, despite this being an area which “makes feminine wine”. She presented an older wine with atypically, a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon within. Black tea, leather and earthy truffle gently lifted from her pleasantly drinking ’81 – not a vintage for displaying or investing in, but imbibing and enjoying according to Michael Broadbent M.W. Christian Seely, Managing director of AXA Millésimesis is now helping assure quality there
Observations: Global warming is feared, with changes to varieties planted a possible response. Bordeaux is almost impossibly large to control biodynamically. If imposed, certain vintages would be lost altogether by this 'variously interpreted' approach. Hardly a desirable scenario for a region where many Châteaux are owned by financial firms. Parallels were drawn between Pomerol and Burgundy. This is after all a land of small producers: 800HA in the hands of over 150 owners. Rouget also own a Burgundy producer. The status quo of an absence of an official classification was said to encourage cooperation, as demonstrated by the collective presenting. Overall the team of nine demonstrated bonhomie, occasional self-deprecation, qualities perhaps unexpected from a normally austere region.
Half a dozen Wild Colchester oysters followed at Wright Brothers, Borough Market, which serves pristine shellfish. So fresh were my oysters, one still featured a tiny wriggling worm. I watched it die on its journey over ice towards shallot vinegar. -So I took seven lives!