JOHN'S TRIP TO BORDEAUX 2010 and an insight into some of his inspiration
In 1970 I wrote a song called ‘Emily’s Song’ which was then released on the 1971 album ‘Every Good Boy Deserves Favour’. The song was written to celebrate the birth of our daughter Emily – and the moments that we were starting, and would continue, to share together.
What you won’t know is that I also bought a case of Chateau Lynch-Bages 1970, the idea being that we would open a bottle at special moments in her life. Lynch-Bages is a Grand Cru Classe wine from the Pauillac region of Bordeaux, and was then, and has remained, one of our most favourite wines. What is so wonderful about this Chateau is that it is still a family estate and is currently run by Jean-Charles Cazes.
Anyway, in celebration of Emily’s birthday we decided to take a trip to Bordeaux last weekend, and Emily managed to arrange tours and tastings with three Chateaux that make wines that she loves. We first visited Chateau Gruard Larose (also a Grand Cru Classe) in the St Julien region, where the lovely Maisa showed us around the stunning buildings and talked us through their wine-making process, and the great care that they take in producing some fantastic wines. The best part (after, of course, tasting the wine) was walking up to the top of the Tower to look over the vineyards reaching in all directions. The Tower was apparently built by the Chevalier de Gruaud in the mid-1770s – and as the story goes he was a well known eccentric who built the tower to not only observe his workers, but also he would also raise a British, German or other national flag over the estate after each harvest in order to indicate who should buy the wine according to its style. Who knows if that’s true, but it’s a great story!
The next Chateau we visited was Suduiraut in the village of Preignac in Sauternes, and produces a stunning sweet wine. Our guide was Olivia – and it was inspiring to hear her speak about growing up in the region and her love of the wines. What is amazing is to think that these spectacular wines are created due to a fungus called ‘noble rot’, and to see pictures of the shrivelled grapes whilst tasting the delicious result is fascinating. Kirsten particularly fell in love with this wine and we left there with the realisation that sweet wine is not just for desert, and a list of recipes that we can’t wait to try with the wines that we bought.
However, the pinnacle of the trip was that Emily had managed to arrange with Jean-Charles Cazes for us to have a tour of Lynch-Bages, and a tasting of their wines, including the new 2009 vintage. We drove up to the Chateau with such excitement and anticipation – what if it wasn’t what we hoped for? But we need not have worried – the day was absolutely amazing. We were greeted by Julie who took us on a ‘private tour’ and made us feel so very special. We were shown both their modern wine-making processes, and their museum of barrels and equipment from the 19th and 20th Century, and the pride that they have in their wine is just wonderful. Seeing rooms with barrel upon barrel of wine quietly maturing is fascinating to wine lovers like us….
Then to the tasting… we were allowed to try some of their new Blanc de Lynch-Bages, which is a “new” white wine and then both the ‘second wine’ Echo, and their ‘first wine’ Chateau Lynch-Bages. We loved the white and the second wine, but it was the Lynch-Bages itself which blew us away… and memories of bottles drunk in the past flowed over us whilst we tasted the new 2009 vintage. It was a magical day, and we left clutching a new case to create future memories with….
And the end to the story? We returned to England and last night, on Emily’s birthday, we opened one of the bottles from 1970. With extreme care we decanted the wine – forty years results in a lot of sediment – and there was a moment of trepidation as we poured the glasses. Again, we need not have worried…. it was a beautiful rich colour with almost no amber at the edges, the taste was of leather, cedar, fruitcake and spices, and the finish just went on and on and on… absolutely delicious and the perfect end to a wonderful few days…